Sunday, September 14, 2008

Podcast, NBL Preview and Cairns Get 1st Win

If you haven't listen to the 1st Episode of "The OT" with JR and DJ Rod, check it out here.

Last night the NBL season tipped off in Cairns. The Taipans came away with a 98-92 victory over the South Dragons.

My good ole mate Martin Cattilini connected on three late threes to keep the Dragons at bay. His team high 21 points was well supported by Dave Thomas's 13 points and 8 boards.

The Dragons get a chance on Wednesday night to taste victory when they host the Perth Wildcats.

My weekly article (read below) can be found in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

In case you missed it, the NBL will be kicking off its 31st season today. Neighbouring franchise the CairnsTaipans celebrate their 10th year in the league by tipping off against a rejuvenated South Dragons on Opening Night.

There will be only two games in the first round of NBL action so I thought this would be as good a time as any to run through my predictions for the season.

Everyone is talking up the Melbourne Tigers. No doubt they will be tough considering the off-season shopping spree went on which saw former MVP Sam MacKinnon, last year’s MVP runner up Ebi Ere and the lethal Rod Grizzard join an already solid roster. However coach Al Westover will have a tough task keeping all his troops happy.

I have to give credit where it is due and they deserve to start favourites. Any other team with aspirations of winning a championship this year will have a task ahead of them in beating this crew.

Next I am going to group the Perth Wildcats and South Dragons together.

Perth have been a top four team the last two years but their owner Jack Bendat upped the ante and asked for nothing less than a championship from his team. The Wildcats have added some extra oomph to their lineup in the form of journeyman Ben Knight, Kings import Isaiah Victor and point guard Darnell Hinson.

The Dragons gain instant respect thanks to the hiring of Brian Goorjian as coach. He has won where ever he has gone and it will be no different with this team.

Olympian Mark Worthington and former Bullet Adam Gibson are some key signings for this squad. Throw them into a team of competitors like Cortez Groves and Boomer Joe Ingles who grossly underachieved last season and Goorjian will have them in the top four.

Both the New Zealand Breakers and Gold Coast Blaze will be carrying a certain amount of expectation this year.

The Breakers recruited Olympian CJ Bruton to shore up their point guard spot, while Dillon Boucher returns home to add spark off the bench.

If Bruton can weave his magic and turn the Breakers into title contenders, he will go down as one of the best point guards this country has produced.

The Blaze have also added a “big time” point guard to their roster. Shane Heal will run the show for Brendan Joyce’s squad this season.

Pairing up in the backcourt with Heal will be scoring machine James Harvey and with plenty of beef up front (Ben Melmeth, Pero Cameron and Casey Frank) “big things” will be expected from the Blaze in their second year.

As for Adelaide, Sydney and Wollongong they have all tinkered with their rosters and will be looking to improve on last year’s disappointment of missing the play offs.

Adelaide have a lot of new faces on board, namely Jacob Holmes, Aaron Bruce and Luke Schenscher, and how this group will work together will be a real unknown until about mid-way through the season. The toll injury takes on this team could tell the tale of their season.

With the league being reduced to ten teams this year, just being one of the six teams that will make the playoffs will be a tough ask. It could shape up to be one of the closest seasons ever contested in the history of the league.

I look forward to seeing how the first half of the season pans out.
Oh and by the way, the Crocs will be there at the end.

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