Most of the recent basketball news in New Zealand has centered around Corey Webster’s magnificent 39 points haul against Melbourne United but plenty of other Tall Blacks have been making their mark in other parts of the world in the past seven days. Kenny was key for the Wildcats, Bailey helped the Pirates steal a win and Zaragoza have parted ways with their coach.
The seventh round of the Australian NBL began with the Perth Wildcats gaining an important 94-88 victory against the 36ers in Adelaide on Wednesday. Perth were behind in the fourth quarter but a couple of critical plays by Jarrod Kenny, including the tying basket with 2:52 to play, helped the Wildcats over the line.
Kenny (10pts) shot 2 from 2 threes and during the game commentator Shane Heal described Kenny as “An outstanding three point shooter.”
I’m not sure I agree with the term “great’ but he is much improved and there was further evidence of that on Sunday night when Kenny knocked down a sideline three, with just 15 seconds the game, against Cairns. His successful shot t restored Perth’s lead over the Taipans.as the men from the west secured the narrowest of victories, 91-90.
On Thursday it appeared that Dion Prewster wanted to single handedly carry the Sydney Kings to a victory over his visiting countrymen. The Wellingtonian, in recent weeks promoted to a starting berth in the absence of the injured Josh Childress, had 5 points a block and a steal in the first five minutes as the Kings gave the Breakers the hurry up in the first half.
The Breakers regained their composure in the second half completing an 86-74 win. Prewster was one of the better performing Kings players and finished with a commendable 8p/3r,2a/2st/1bl stat line.
The upset of the round, probably the season so far, came on Friday night when top of the table Melbourne United was humbled on its own court by the Townsville Crocodiles 82-78. The victory was made more remarkable given the Crocs were without the suspended Brian Conklin and injured Luke Schensher, their premier big men. Leon Henry only had 6 points and 3 rebounds but like all the Townsville players produced a spirited, team orientated performance.
On Saturday night Kirk Penney scored 15 points for the Illawarra Hawks but they went down 89-77 at Adelaide. Interestingly Penney and 36ers dynamic point guard Jerome Randle played together in 2014 for Turkish club Trabzonspor.
Duane Bailey, hopefully over his jet lag, played his second game for the Plymouth Raiders in the British Basketball League on Sunday. The Raiders (1-7) faced a rather tough trip to Worcester Wolves (7-2) and rather unexpectedly pinched an unlikely but extremely welcome 101-91 win.
Bailey was promoted to the starting five and responded with a 9pts (4/9FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists performance. Raiders coach Daryl Corletto was delighted with the efforts of his new signing.
“Duane is just a workhorse. He struggled the first two or three quarters offensively but I went to him early in the fourth quarter and told him a few things. He came out, hit two buckets, made a three. His number was called and he stood up – that’s what I know he can do.”
Isaac Fotu grabbed a game high 8 rebounds and added 5 points but his Zaragoza team fell 80-69 to Belgium club Spirou in the Eurocup. Zaragoza remains second of the six teams in Group C with a 4-2 record.
Zaragoza’s Liga Endesa (Spanish League) season form is in decline. Despite forcing the away game against Gran Canaria into overtime Zaragoza slipped to their sixth defeat in seven games going down 91-79. Zaragoza were outscored 17-5 in the overtime period – Fotu scored 14 points ((6/10FG) and also secured 4 rebounds.
The double dose of defeats was too much for the Zaragoza board as they sacked coach Joaquin Ruiz Lorente following Sunday’s defeat.
Australian international Brad Newley scored 16 points for Gran Canaria.
Limburg United have a bye in the Belgium League, centre Rob Loe hopefully able to put his feet up for a day or two!
OKC had a mixed week. In addition to defeating the Pelicans they also squeezed past the Dallas Mavericks 117-114 on Sunday to improve to 8-6 for the season. Earlier in the week they had suffered losses to the Knicks and the Grizzlies.
Kevin Durant returned to propel OKC to a comfortable 111-89 victory over the Jazz and improved the Thunder’s record to 9-6 yesterday. Steve Adams scored 7 points and added 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Now to US college basketball.
Freshman Jack Salt is, as expected, receiving limited opportunity in the University of Virginia rotation at the moment. The Cavaliers took part in the three day Charleston Classic over the weekend and Salt chimed in with 6 points and 4 rebounds in just 11 minutes against Bradley University on Thursday. The next day it was a similar dosage for Salt, another six points (3/3FG), and an equally comfortable 87-52 win this time against Long Beach State.
In the Championship game on Sunday Salt was given his first starting berth of the season. The former Westlake centre scored an early basket finishing the night with 4 points and a rebound as Virginia ground down George Mason University to win 83-66.
The University of Nebraska Huskers defeated Delaware State 75-60 on Thursday to improve their season to 3-1. Guard Tai Webster played over 30 minutes producing a solid 5p/4r/4a/2st performance.
On Sunday Webster recorded a season high 13 points as the Huskers comfortably disposed of Southeastern Louisianna 92-65.