The Roar
The Roar


NBL clubs bank on getting immediate impact

The Perth Wildcats will look to bounce back against the Denver Nuggets. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)
2nd January, 2017

Casper Ware and Josh Boone have made an immediate impact on arrival at Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats, Brisbane Bullets and New Zealand Breakers will be hoping their new signings do something similar.

As I wrote about recently, injuries to star players threaten to be the major reason that Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand could miss the NBL playoffs this season.

The Bullets have lost key big men Anthony Petrie and Cameron Bairstow to season-ending knee injuries while the Wildcats continue to be without captain Damian Martin and the Breakers minus championship-winning stars Tom Abercrombie and Corey Webster.

All three sit outside the top four only ahead of the struggling Cairns Taipans who are in last place. While low on injuries, the Snakes’ roster has two imports in Fuquan Edwin and Nnanna Egwu offering precious little which is making it tough to win games.

The Cairns Taipans are expected to be one of the teams to suffer from the NBL's changes.

But Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand have made moves to bring in new personnel that they will be hoping can have the same sort of impact Ware and Boone are having at Melbourne United.

Melbourne struggled early in the season with Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield injured before point guard Cedric Jackson and coach Dean Demopoulos failed to see eye to eye, and it was the player shown the door.

Melbourne’s season then threatened to fall apart again when four-time Olympian David Andersen went down with a knee injury. On top of that, underwhelming import big Devin Williams also got hurt.


United had already made the move at point guard replacing Jackson with Ware. Now another former NBA player Boone has arrived to fill in as a big. The results are Melbourne looking to be genuine championship contenders.

Ware is having a remarkable impact on the league and already in his nine games he has proven a match-winner on multiple occasions while averaging 23.0 points and 5.0 assists. His match-winning feats continued last Thursday when he hit the game-winner against the Taipans.

Boone has played the last three games, averaging 7.3 points and 8.0 rebounds, and providing the kind of inside presence that Williams never could.

With Ware and Boone combined with Goulding, Blanchfield, Ramone Moore, David Barlow, Majok Majok and Tai Wesley, that’s a team clicking and could win the title with or without Andersen back.

The Wildcats, Bullets and Breakers will be looking to their new arrivals to revive life back into their championship hopes.

Perth scored a crucial New Year’s Eve road win over the Illawarra Hawks in the first game after axing import guard Jaron Johnson for the second time. But Jesse Wagstaff, Dexter Kernich-Drew and Jameel McKay were among the players to stand up.

While Martin is still several weeks from a return with his knee injury, the Wildcats will be hoping new import Bryce Cotton is right to go this Saturday night in Sydney against the Kings.


The combo guard has every bit the reputation that Ware and Jerome Randle arrived with. If he can deliver anything close the Wildcats very well could still make it a 31st straight finals appearance.

The Breakers are a vastly different looking outfit currently without Abercrombie and Webster who have been major factors in their success over the past six seasons. But in their absence, New Zealand has signed another impressive athlete, swingman Paul Carter.

He made a solid debut in last Friday’s road loss to Sydney and has the confidence to want the ball with the game on the line. He was willing to make a play to try and give the Breakers the win on debut before a bewildering travelling call robbed him of the chance.

If Carter can provide some of that scoring ability to both shoot and get to the rim, then the Breakers still have enough weapons to make the finals provided import point guard David Stockton’s knee injury isn’t too bad with Ben Woodside still a chance to return.

A Breakers line-up come finals time featuring the returned Abercrombie and possibly Webster along with Carter, Stockton, Woodside, Kirk Penney, Mika Vukona, Alex Pledger, Akil Mitchell and Rob Loe reads championship calibre on paper.

Alex Pledger and Shawn Redhage compete for the basketball

The Bullets have been dealt a cruel blow with the injuries to big men Petrie and Bairstow. But with Tom Jervis, Mitch Young and Daniel Kickert with Reuben Te Rangi playing in the four spot, coach Andrej Lemanis looks likely to back in those in the front court.


It’s in the back court Brisbane is looking for more punch with Isaih Tueta playing in the New Year’s Eve win over Cairns with the Bullets set to sign a third import, Jeremy Kendle potentially in time for Monday night’s clash at home to Perth.

Kendle has been battling a calf injury but provided he gets the all clear, could add punch to the Bullets following MVP seasons the past two years in the qbL with the Toowoomba Mountaineers and the SEABL with the Bendigo Braves.

“We’ll continue to make decisions in the best interests of the team,” Lemanis said after his team’s win over the Taipans.

“Obviously Jeremy Kendle was here for the game and he would be our third import anyway, but we’ll have to get an assessment on his calf.

“If it’s not up to scratch then we have the opportunity to make some decisions on what is best for the team in terms of moving forwards over this last quarter of the season.”

If Kendle, Cotton and Carter can have anything near the impact that Ware and Boone have had at Melbourne, then it’s still going to be one hell of a race to the NBL finals.

Round 13 NBL results

Cairns Taipans 78 lost to Melbourne United 79


Sydney Kings 85 beat New Zealand Breakers 80

Illawarra Hawks 87 lost to Perth Wildcats 95
Brisbane Bullets 93 beat Cairns Taipans 76

Melbourne United 104 beat Adelaide 36ers 73