With just 48 hours off between rounds one and two, there was barely time to draw breath before the action resumed. ‘Winners & Losers’ is back to help you catch up on who killed it this past week, and who came off second best.
Illawarra started their season by going 0-2 in round one, before turning around and beating the snot out of both New Zealand and Sydney this week.
Still without Rhys Martin and Kevin Lisch, the Hawks put on back-to-back offensive showcases, thunping New Zealand 96-75 and Sydney 100-86.
To pull off consecutive offensive assaults of that calibre without two of your three best guards is nothing short of exceptional.
Kirk Penney didn’t just dip into the fountain of youth against the Breakers on Wednesday night, he dove right in and swam a little backstroke in it.
Penney had 36 points in 27 minutes against his old team as he and running mate AJ Ogilvy (23 points on 10-14 shooting) flattened the Breakers by 21 points.
The visibly pumped up Kiwi was feeling it from long range and interestingly shot a much better clip from deep (7-12) than he did from inside the arc (3-12).
— NBL (@NBL) October 14, 2015
While we’re here, credit to Oscar Forman who dropped 24 points and 10 rebounds on 9-13 shooting against the Kings on Saturday.
Four out of seven Downtown writers – including myself – picked Jordair Jett as the first import released in our season predictions piece.
For what it’s worth, Jett had my vote for ‘coolest first name’ and ‘coolest second name’.
However, it’s his game - not his name - that Jett is hoping to be known for. At the Kingdome on Thursday night the Crocs import took a big step in the right direction, lighting Sydney up for 22 points 6, assists and 6 rebounds in a ballsy first win of the season.
— NBL (@NBL) October 15, 2015
After Jett beat the Kings into the corner it was Corey Maynard who struck the finishing the blow when the lights shone brightest.
The former Taipan caught the ball on the left wing, and with nerves (and balls) of steel, iced the game to seal a Crocs upset.
It was a significant moment in Maynard’s young career, one which he credits partly to Australian basketball legend Luc Longley.
New Zealand Breakers
Sure, NZ went 0-2 this round, losing the game of the round to Perth and the belting of the round to Illawarra before that.
Somewhere between their pair of losses, however, the Breakers received news that Corey Webster would return home after getting cut by the New Orleans Pelicans. Suddenly, this week’s long term gain seemed to outweigh its short term pain.
While NZ naturally wished Webster the best in pursuing his childhood NBA dream, the addition of one of the league’s brightest young stars is exactly what the 1-3 Breakers need.
— Andrew Dewhurst (@DewyNZ) October 17, 2015
Sydney launched themselves into the winner’s column last week on the back of a 24 point belting of Cairns, but suffered a fall from grace this round, losing two games at home.
The Kings lost to Townsville on Thursday, the team most pundits tipped to finish last, before conceding an inexcusable and ultimately costly 100 points to Illawarra on Saturday.
A win/loss split was the King’s minimum weekly requirement for round 2, with 2-0 a well and truly realistic proposition.
Sydney will be looking to recapture some of that opening week magic, and hoping Josh Childress’ return isn’t too far away.
Lucas Walker jumped from Melbourne to Adelaide in the offseason, but had a forgettable return to his former home on Saturday when the 36ers took on United at Hisense Arena.
Last week Todd Blanchfield essentially wrote the book on how to play against your old team for the first time, but Walker’s copy remains unopened on his bed-side table.
Walker went scoreless in just 12 minutes despite being promoted to the starting lineup, submitting an empty stat sheet outside of the rebound column.
It was also tough week for Walker’s teammate Kenyon McNeail.
McNeail’s dunk contest-induced shoulder injury appears to be quite serious, and on Saturday Adelaide head coach Joey Wright revealed that he may have to look at replacing the injured guard.
McNeail’s injury conjures up memories of former Sydney and Townsville import Rolan Roberts, who’s Vince Carter-esque ‘elbow dunk’ at the 2005 dunk contest resulted in a busted shoulder and the premature end of his season.
Sometimes a guy will land in the losers column at no fault of his own, and there’ll be few purer examples of such misfortune than Everard Bartlett.
Despite his best efforts with New Zealand, Adelaide, Perth and New Zealand again, Bartlett has never quite been able to stick on an NBL roster.
Bartlett got his most recent chance in the form of a week-to-week fill-in contract with his hometown New Zealand Breakers, replacing Corey Webster while he pursued a spot in the NBA.
Bartlett has played significant minutes in the opening rounds (27 minutes per game) and put up by far the best numbers of his NBL career, averaging 14.5 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
— NBL (@NBL) October 14, 2015
While there’s been no official word from Breakers HQ, Webster’s return may very well spell the end of Bartlett’s four game run. If it does, I doubt I’m the only one who hopes, and suspects, that we haven’t seen the last of Bartlett just yet.