Bullets outmuscle Cats in overtime thriller

    Bullets overcome Cats in overtime thriller-Greg DavisBRISBANE big guns Nathan Sobey and Aron Baynes combined to lead the Bullets to a long-awaited and nerve-jangling 97-93 overtime victory over the wayward Perth Wildcats at Nissan Arena on Tuesday night.Sobey (30 points, five rebounds and nine assists) and Baynes (12 points and 10 rebounds) were the cornerstones of the dramatic win that snapped a five-game losing streak and handed the Bullets just their fifth win of a tumultuous 2022-23 campaign.Perth went on a 12-0 run in last term as the sides finished up locked together at 87-all at the end of regulation time after Bullets centre Gorjok Gak blocked Bryce Cotton’s potential matchwinner in the dying seconds.Baynes was fouled out of the game in overtime but Sobey produced a timely left-handed layup with 65 seconds left on the clock.Perth’s Corey Webster missed the chance to send the game into double overtime with a last-second drive.Sobey then hit two free throws to put the game on ice.Perth had 15 turnovers and shot terribly from the charity stripe with 22 of 40 attempts while they hit just seven of 25 from three-point territory to fall to a 9-8 record despite Cotton’s 30 points and the late rally.The last time Brisbane won was on December 1 when they beat Perth in overtime. That clash was also Perth’s last loss.After a nightmarish month off the court, Sobey clearly had enough and took charge of the contest after halftime* The Bullets welcomed back the trio of Tanner Krebs, Gorjok Gak and Tyler Johnson from injury and Krebs looked like he had not skipped a beat. Krebs was in red-hot form before an ankle injury forced him onto the sidelines for the best part of a month. He certainly made up for lost time with a blistering first half when he had a game-high 13 points. His attack on the rim, outside shooting the defensive hustle made a difference to Brisbane.*New Zealand basketball great Pero Cameron has joined the Bullets as an assistant coach. Cameron is the only Tall Blacks player to be inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame after leading the national team to two Olympics and three World Cups. After his decorated playing career, Cameron has been part of the Tall Blacks coaching brains trust for 11 years and was appointed Head Coach in 2021. He has also been coaching at a number of Gold Coast schools as well as the NZNBL and state league.*Bryce Cotton is in the hunt for yet another MVP gong with his numbers all at career-best or near career-best levels. Everybody sees the spectacular plays from the superstar. But one play in the second quarter underlined why he is truly invaluable to Perth. The Wildcats needed a bucket and Cotton went into the paint and grabbed an offensive rebound against several taller opponents and earned two free throws. It wasn’t pretty but it was gritty.* Perth’s calling card for the longest time was their rebounding – especially their offensive rebounding. This summer, the Wildcats have gone off the boil on the boards with head coach John Rillie describing their rebounding in the December 1 loss to Brisbane as “pathetic’’. However, the Cats turned back the clock as they dragged in 11 offensive rebounds by halftime with their poor shooting giving them more than enough chances for a second shot.Jackies impress royalty by dismantling BreakersWith royalty in the house it was the JackJumpers who reigned supreme in Hobart on Boxing Day after withstanding a late comeback to defeat the plucky New Zealand Breakers for the first time this season with a 93-82 victory at MyState Bank Arena.In what was the Breakers first game in 18 days due to a Covid outbreak, the JackJumpers held a double-digit lead for almost the entire contest until a familiar JJs face stepped up when needed most to fend off the brave Breakers and their final quarter flurry.After leading by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, the JackJumpers and their boisterous home crowd was silenced midway through the final term when Breakers guard Barry Brown Junior hit a long ball to cut the margin to 77-70 with 6:61 left on the clock.But with the deafening sold out Hobart crowd- featuring Tasmania’s own Princess Mary of Denmark and her family as special guests- needing a hero, it was a familiar face who stepped up for the JackJumpers as Jack McVeigh exploded to get the Jackies home.With just two points to his name in the opening three periods, the Smiling Assassin hit a number of big shots in the game’s final minutes as he poured in 11 final term points to lead his side to a crucial 11-point win.Josh Magette (16 points, five rebounds, four assists, five steals) was also crucial in the dying stages with a big three and some clutch free throws while Milton Doyle (14 points, four assists, five steals) also played a key role as his fine form continued.Meanwhile unsung centre Fabijan Krslovic (14 points, five rebounds) played a monster role in setting up the win with all of his points coming in the first half as he sparked the JJs early.Five players scored in double figures for the brave Breakers, with Izayah Le’ Afa (21 points, four rebounds, five assists) leading the way along with Brown Junior (16 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Jarell Brantley (16 points, four rebounds).The important win- the JJs first in four attempts over the Breakers this season- was built on the back of an 11-2 first quarter run spearheaded by Krslovic who channelled his inner Steph Curry with back to back threes in a sizzling six second stretch to bring the Hobart crowd to its feet.Magette backed up his centre’s work with a three of his own moments later to give the JJs a 10-point quarter time lead they would sustain throughout until the Breakers brief final quarter run.The JJs (9-8) will now look to make it three on the trot on Friday when they travel to Sydney on Friday to take on the ladder-leading Kings in a Grand Final rematch.Tucker inspires United to win over Taipans– Dylan Bolch It’s Tucker Time.Melbourne United’s superstar import Rayjon Tucker caught fire against the Taipans, dropping a game-high 27 points to lead his side to an 84-81 victory.Not only was he a massive threat offensively, but he was a key contributor across the court, recording eight rebounds while pouncing on a loose ball to slam home a dunk with less than 90 seconds to go, reinforcing United’s lead. Tucker spearheaded United to victory in the club’s first Open Air match in two years, a big occasion for the club in what was labelled a “statement game” by gun guard Chris Goulding ahead of the contest.United established a handy buffer within minutes, getting out to a ten-point lead courtesy of some Goulding magic as he knocked down three three-pointers in the space of a minute.The pair of Isaac Humphries and Marcus Lee have already established themselves as one of the league’s best rim-protecting duos and were again a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end for United.Humphries finished with five rebounds, three steals and two blocks while Lee had eight points, ten rebounds and three blocks. They were able to limit the impact of Cairns big man Keanu Pinder as well, who has arguably been the best big man throughout the season.Melbourne United’s system-based team defence as a whole was prominent, as they curbed Cairns’ chaotic potency on the offensive end.The Taipans looked to threaten on a number of occasions, but United were able to hold them out and continued to hit tricky shots when the Taipans closed the deficit.However, the Taipans, despite lacking their usual polish, found a way to stay in the contest and keep United on their toes until the final buzzer.American Taipan Tahjere McCall provided one of the highlights of the match with a buzzer-beater despite heavy defensive coverage right on the stroke of halftime, reducing the margin to eight points.He had the opportunity to tie the contest as well, narrowly missing the three-pointer to send the contest into overtime.He was critical for the Taipans and almost put the side on his back, while DJ Hogg (20 points), Shannon Scott (12 points) and Pinder (16 points) also hit double digits in points.Hogg’s composure under pressure was on show, as he hit some clutch shots in the final term, almost pinching victory for his side.CG43 COOKING WITH GASDean Vickerman set the United skipper a challenge a handful of games ago – that he wanted his veteran to put up 10+ three-pointers per match.It has unlocked a fire within for Chris Goulding, who shot 4/9 from deep in a thrilling performance to finish with 19 points and four assists.The United talisman captivated the crowd early, drilling three triples in the first term alone.He’s one of the competition’s best shooters in history and doesn’t seem like he is slowing down either, leading the league in three-pointers yet again this season (69).Goulding looms as a key component to United’s finals charge in the back end of the season.WAARDENBURG RETURNSThe Cairns Taipans forward returned to the starting line-up after missing the past week due to a concussion suffered against the Brisbane Bullets.The New Zealander put seven points on the board early and added another dimension to Cairns’ exciting brand of play.His minutes on the court meant that Cairns became more versatile on both the offensive and defensive ends.He was limited however and finished the night with seven points and three rebounds.HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWNA seat at John Cain Arena was the hottest ticket in Melbourne on Friday night, as United fans packed out the arena for the third time this season.The sellout crowd created an incredible atmosphere, which gave the home side a significant edge in the crunch clash with the Taipans.Melbourne United fans flocked to John Cain Arena by the masses for the club’s final home match of the calendar year, in what has become a match to circle on the NBL calendar.United will be on the road for the next seven matches as John Cain Arena is required for the Australian Open and will not return to their home court until the final match of the regular season on February 5.JackJumpers put Hawks to the sword– Jarrod Lawler, The MercuryIt took them a quarter to warm up but it was well worth the wait as the JackJumpers snapped their two-game losing streak with a monster 87-60 win over a depleted and plucky Illawarra Hawks at MyState Bank Arena on Thursday night.After a pair of tough losses to Cairns and Adelaide- two games in which they coughed up final quarter leads- the JackJumpers were back to their ruthless best for the final three periods in Thursday’s matchup as they overcame a slow start to suffocate the undermanned visitors with a morale-boosting 27-point win.Entering Thursday night’s contest with just two wins from their first 16 games- and missing star import duo Tyler Harvey and Michael Frazier due to illness-the Hawks came out with nothing to lose against the Jackies and it paid dividends early as they sucker punched the home side to take a six-point quarter time lead thanks to a strong start from Hawks centre Sam Froling.The visitors’ success was short-lived however as Scott Roth’s men soon found their mojo on both ends of the floor as they held the Hawks to just 39 points over the remaining three quarters while pouring in 72 of their own to register a huge victory.After trailing 21-15 at quarter time, Milton Doyle and Jack McVeigh caught fire in the second term to lead the JJs on a 16-3 run to help set up a 44-35 half time lead they would soon extend with another huge run.After the Hawks cut the lead to 48-42 early in the third term, the Jackies responded with a 16-0 barrage as they lead ballooned to 64-42 as Tasmania cruised to victory in the final term.The crucial win ended a JackJumper record of three consecutive home losses, with Thursday’s clash the club’s first victory at MyState Bank Arena in exactly two months when they smashed the Wildcats by 31 points on October 22.Five players scored in double figures for the JJs in the win, with McVeigh (15 points), Doyle (14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals), and Rashard Kelly (14 points, five rebounds) leading the way in a well balanced attack.Josh Magette (12 points, six rebounds, four assist, five steals) also played a brilliant all around game while Isaac White (11 points) continued to provide a great spark off the bench.For the Hawks, Froling (19 points, eight rebounds, seven turnovers) tried his heart out for a depleted side missing its two leading scorers in Harvey and Frazier.At 9-8, the Jackies will look to carry over their winning form into their Boxing Day clash with New Zealand, a side they’re yet to beat in three meetings so far this season.QUARTER BY QUARTER BREAKDOWNWhile Will Magnay was rockin’ the rim early in a one man show it was the only spectacle that Hobart crowd had to cheer early about as the home side went ice cold from the field as the plucky visitors jumped out to an early lead.After Magnay scored the opening six points of the game and backed it up with a huge block on the other end, it was all downhill for the Jackies who struggled to hit shots as the Hawks went on a 17-4 run to hold a 21-15 quarter time advantage on the back of a big term from Froling.The JJs shot just 31 per cent in the term while in contrast the visitors went at 45 per cent as Froling controlled the paint with nine points and five rebounds in a dominant opening term.From there Doyle and McVeigh got red-hot as the Silent Assassin and the Smiling Assassin paired up for 17 of the JJs 29 second quarter points as they outscored the Hawks (14) on their own to help the JackJumpers turn a six-point deficit into a 44-35 half time lead.It was much of the same in the critical third quarter as Tassie got contributions from multiple players in a 16-0 run in the middle of the period to hold a comfortable 21-point lead at the final charge.The mid third quarter barrage came at a critical time for the JJs who were holding just a slim 48-42 lead that would soon blow out to 22 points on the back of the 16 unanswered points.Riding a wave of momentum the JackJumpers continued on their merry way in the final term as they stormed home for their ninth win of the season.

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