36ers prepared to rise for Phoenix showdown
Adelaide 36ers will be looking to reverse the trend when South East Melbourne Phoenix return to Brett Maher Court on Friday night.
The Phoenix took home a 102-85 win last month and will come to Adelaide full of confidence despite falling to arch rival Melbourne United 92-83 in last week’s Throwdown.
Bouncing back from a tough night last round against Tasmania, the 36ers have a point to prove not only to themselves and the fans, but the rest of the league.
South East Melbourne come to Adelaide with a familiar face in their roster, seven-time 36ers club MVP Daniel Johnson playing for the Phoenix as an injury replacement player for Gorjak Gak.
Alan Williams made his NBL24 debut in the Phoenix’s win in Adelaide last month and has come back in and shown why he said he is a league MVP candidate.
The 203cm centre has been a force inside, averaging 17.2 points and 10 rebounds per night in the past six games, but foul trouble has been a concern.
Williams has fouled out both times South East Melbourne has lost and Adelaide must attack the Phoenix starting centre early to gain an advantage.
Along with the former NBA big man, South East Melbourne captain Mitch Creek will always be up for the fight, but it was import guards Gary Browne and Will Cummings which were the thorns in Adelaide’s side last time.
Browne and Cummings combined for 37 points and 13 assists in South East Melbourne's win on October 19, captain Mitch McCarron and Sunday Dech loom large as the pair to stop the Phoenix import duo.
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Craig Moller has made his return to the NBL this season after a rocky journey overseas.
The former Melbourne United and Sydney Kings forward had missed over 12 months of basketball due to a knee injury suffered in Germany, and he believes he’s beginning to gauge his feel for the game once again.
“I don’t use my injury as an excuse but I’m 10 games back into it now. I knew there would be some challenges and some ups and downs, even throughout training sometimes I still feel I’ve got more to give and so much improvement,” Moller said last round.
“Sometimes playing that wing position with such talented other guys, you can get a little bit passive and that’s my nature sometimes.
“I can understand I’m playing with Mitch Creek – let’s get him the ball. I’m playing with Alan Williams – let’s get him the ball. I myself have to take the responsibility to be more aggressive.”
PG: Browne / Ayre
SG: Cummings / Kenyon / Foxwell
SF: Moller / Te Rangi
PF: Creek / Vague
C: Williams / Johnson
THE FINAL WORD
Adelaide must protect the ball and win the inside battle against a Phoenix side who will be desperate to bounce back from a Throwdown defeat.
Execution is key for a 36ers team who has yet to post 100 points in a game so far during the NBL24 season.
Scoring not only helps putting scoreboard pressure on the opposition, it also helps Adelaide’s transition defence with their rivals taking the ball out of the hoop consistently.
Williams will be a key target inside, but the 36ers must defend the perimeter, especially Browne and Cummings, while Creek and Johnson will no doubt be out to impress.
Adelaide just need to find a way to win and must get the crowd involved early in an attempt to gain the momentum back in the campaign.