NBL favourites jostle for position - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NBL favourites jostle for position

By Adrian Warren 01/12/2002 04:40:07 PM Comments (0)

Heavyweight contenders Adelaide, West Sydney and Melbourne cranked up their challenges for the national basketball league championship despite each missing key personnel.

Last season's grand finalists Adelaide and West Sydney both started the season poorly, but the Razorbacks moved into sixth spot with a 116-105 home win over Cairns.

The Pigs improved their overall record to six victories and five defeats despite playing without two of their injured front court starters, Simon Dwight and Russell Hinder, who are bith expected to be out for up to three months.

Reigning premier Adelaide (5-7 win/loss record), which is currently without injured centre Paul Rogers, jumped two spots to seventh by winning both legs of its Queensland double, trumping Townsville (3-10) 106-101 last Wednesday and Brisbane (1-11) 96-91 on Saturday night.

Fifth-placed Melbourne (7-4) notched its fourth straight win and fifth in its last six games with a 100-85 home win over Canberra (7-4) despite missing Andrew Gaze.

At the summit, Sydney (9-2) regained the ladder leadership from Perth (9-3) following its 102-74 home win over the Wildcats on Wednesday and a 114-74 away flogging of Victoria (4-7) on Friday.

Perth rallied on Friday night in Canberra defeating the Cannons 99-98.

Wollongong (8-3) moved up to third, sparked by 14 final quarter points from forward Glen Saville, with a 94-84 home victory over Cairns (5-8).

Cairns was the big loser of the round dropping all three of its games, including a 86-71 loss to Brisbane which won for the first time in 11 games.

Adelaide coach Phil Smyth wasn't convinced the NBL champion had turned the corner and said it was still a fair way off the pace.

"We're happy to grab a couple of wins on the road this week, but we've still got a lot of work to do," Smyth said.

"We need to be more consistent. We've got Wollongong next week on the road and then Canberra. Those games will give us a much better indication."

West Sydney chief executive Robbie Cadee said the Pigs could find out in the next couple of days what chance there was of regaining fan favourite John Rillie, who was cut by Greek club AEK Athens this week.

Melbourne CEO Nigel Purchase said the Tigers hoped Gaze, who underwent surgery on a knee infection last night, would just miss next week's game against West Sydney and would be right for the Tigers' doomsday double trip the following week.

All the contenders must chase a Kings team which will shortly be bolstered by the arrival of forward David Stiff.

Sydney coach Brian Goorjian enjoyed a triumphant return to Victoria, the club which axed him, and his team dismissed the old "violet crumble" tag against it by responding to successive losses by restricting the Giants and Wildcats to under 40 percent shooting from the field.

Star import Chris Williams logged 25 points and 15 rebounds against Victoria and 20 and 12 against Perth.

Wildcats guard James Harvey clinched his team's win in Canberra from the free throw line while the Cannons' loss in Melbourne came after they were outscored 30-9 in a disastrous third quarter.

Forward Martin Cattalini sparked Adelaide's success in Townsville with a 30 point haul, while the 36ers overcame Brisbane despite 30 points from new Bullets import Kevin Freeman.

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