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NBL, WNBL Round 1, Sunday

THE margins blew out a little wider last night in the NBL, and Townsville laid the foundation for a WNBL championship run by beating contender Melbourne in its own building.

Taking on Utah Jazz, then flying back to Australia took its toll on the Sydney Kings as Adelaide eventually ran them off their feet in another high-quality NBL outing.

Then it looked as if Bryce Cotton was presenting his MVP bona fides as Perth jumped out of the gate against the Brisbane Bullets.

The Bullets hung in there for as 10-point road loss, but considering it was 8th versus first in the champions' building, that was a solid performance from the Brisbane crew.

Earlier in Melbourne, Townsville dealt with adversity to signal its WNBL intentions with a meritorious road win over the Boomers, who still have Louella Tomlinson to slot into their lineup.



Cairns Taipans at New Zealand Breakers


NATHAN Jawai was making a huge impact as Cairns battled Illawarra on Friday so his teammates did very well to escape the Hawks without him. Hopefully his injury won't be too debilitating but it does keep him out of this battle between the great cross-Tasman rivals, a rivalry borne of two recent Grand Final Series, both won by New Zealand. Mitch McCarron also is dubious after going down late in the game and at best, might be proppy. Cairns has a solid record in NZ and will be on a high after Alex Loughton found a way to lead it to a win regardless, although the Breakers at home present a very different type of challenge. Edgar Sosa and DJ Newbill are the new import faces but returning are regulars such as Thomas Abercrombie, Mika Vukona, Alex Pledger and Kirk Penney, with Shea Ili and Finn Delany projected for great years after their FIBA Asia Cup showings for the Tall Blacks. Breakers to start with a win.

OUT V NZ: Nathan Jawai seconds before injuring his leg on Friday. Pic courtesy Gordon Greaves


Adelaide Lightning at Canberra Capitals, Sydney Uni Flames at Perth Lynx


FINALS spectators last season, both Adelaide and Canberra opened with big wins on Friday and with almost identical scorelines (91-80, 93-80 respectively), although Lightning beating the defending champs might have been marginally more impressive. Both Adelaide and the Capitals had young players making big impressions, such as Nicole Seekamp, Lauren Nicholson and Vanessa Panousis for Lightning, Abbey Wehrung and Ezi Magbegor in particular for Canberra. Then again, the veterans showed up too, Nat Novosel with a near triple-double in her long-awaited Lightning debut, Nat Hurst with 14 assists in her Caps return. It adds up to a classic showdown in the capital, but one Adelaide is capable of pinching.


THE Flames suffered a rude awakening in Adelaide and now are aware there's a bulls-eye on them from every rival team. Perth is no exception. Sami Whitcomb will have a mesmerising matchup with Alex Wilson, as will the combo guards Courtney Williams and Katie-Rae Ebzery. It will be upto players such as Kayla Standish, Alice Kunek and Olivia Thompson to get the job done against Asia Taylor and Jennifer Hamson, with containing Belinda Snell likely falling to Kunek and possibly Alex Ciabattoni. This is huge for both teams, the Lynx obviously anxious to open with a win at home, Sydney desperate to avoid a 0-2 season-start. I'm tipping the championship qualities to kick in to get the Flames firing.


NBL: ADELAIDE 36ERS 105 (Moore 22, Johnson 16, Creek 15, Shorter 14, Deng 12, Drmic, Sobey 11; Johnson 8 rebs; Shorter 8 assts) d SYDNEY KINGS 96 (Newley 24, Cadee, Lisch16, Ellis 13, Leslie 12; Ellis 7 rebs; Lisch 5 assts) at the Kingdome, Qudos Bank Arena.

NEW 36ers import Ramone Moore delivered an NBL career-high 22 points in only his second game with the club as Adelaide's bench outscored Sydney's 47-24 to underpin a solid road win. Matt Hodgson had two undisciplined fouls in the first 3:11 and only collected two more to be of little value, though Majok Deng stepped up and worked his butt off for the Sixers. Brad Newley led Sydney through the first half as it went to the interval 4 up, Kevin Lisch also battling gamely, Nathan Sobey another 36er struggling to make an impact. But Deng, Anthony Drmic and Moore kept the 36ers' offence ticking until Daniel Johnson and Mitch Creek kicked in, the 59-46 second-half perhaps reflecting Sydney's tiring legs. Jason Cadee banged in four successive 3-pointers to bring the Kings to life late, before Shannon Shorter turned off the lights.

PERTH WILDCATS 96 (Cotton 24, Wagstaff 18, Tokoto 16, Walker 14; Martin 8 rebs; Martin 5 assts) d BRISBANE BULLETS 86 (Trice 23, Kickert 18, Buford 17; Holt, Trice, Buford 5 rebs; Gibson 7 assts) at The Jungle, Perth Arena.

WILDCATS captain Damian Martin left no doubt what the defending champs are chasing this season when he opened this game in front of 13,400 at The Jungle with a three. That's the goal too, three championships in a row and when Bruce Cotton started dominating early, it looked very gettable. Lucas Walker was working hard as Perth pulled away to lead by as many as 19, aided and abetted by a monster 3-pointer from Greg Hire to close the third period, his shot from the opposition 3-point line. Travis Trice was terrific all night but came home really strongly, at one stage turning it into the Trice-V-Bryce show. But Jesse Wagstaff produced a big last quarter with a pair of threes followed by a drive. Despite Brisbane's desperate efforts, the Bullets could only drag it back to 10, Perrin Buford with some impressive athleticism but Perth far too deep. 

WNBL: TOWNSVILLE FIRE 63 (George 17, Murray 9, Cocks, Mincy 8; George 21 rebs; Mincy 4 assts) d MELBOURNE BOOMERS 54 (Cambage 15, O'Hea 10; O'Hea 14 rebs; Cole 4 assts) at State Basketball Centre.

IF someone told you Suzy Batkovic would score 5 points on 1-of-11 shooting and grab 3 rebounds, but Townsville would beat championship rival Melbourne in Melbourne by near-enough double figures, you'd probably have thought they were crazy. Actually though, it was the officials yesterday at the SBC - who had Batkovic on 3 fouls with 7:03 left in the second quarter, the first and third of them absolute nonsense - who were a little whistle crazy. With Liz Cambage huge inside, the Boomers pulled six clear before an amazing 24-10 third period by the Fire in which players such as Cayla George (17 points, 21 rebounds), Darcee Garbin, Micaela Cocks, Mia Murray rallied, using their smarts and nous. With Batkovic back for the last quarter, Melbourne didn't know how to find its way forward anymore, the Boomers still a work-in-progress,Townsville complete.

Oct 8

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