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Brisbane Bullets v Adelaide 36ers Game Preview

Brisbane Bullets v Adelaide 36ers When: 7pm (AEDT), Sunday 16 October Where: Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre Broadcast: NBL TV; Fox Sports; Sky Sport NZ History returns While basketball fans around Australia trumpeted the return of the powerful Brisbane Bullets in the off-season – back after a hiatus – for those involved it felt very different. “It’s been an interesting ride with the return of the Bullets, and everyone talks about the Bullets are back. That’s true, and we do have a history, but in the last seven years we don’t have a history,” coach Andrej Lemanis said. “There’s a lot of rebuilding that’s gone on and a lot of things that aren’t where they need to be just yet because we’re starting from zero.” However, when the Bullets were facing a double-figure deficit against Perth in their home opener, Lemanis realised there are some things even seven years on the sidelines can’t erase. “When you see the fans interacting with the game that’s where you see we do have a history,” he said. “They’re into basketball, they get into it and they understand they can have an influence again, that’s really pleasing to see that. “They understand they’re here to participate and not just spectate.” A near capacity crowd at Boondall roared its approval as Jermaine Beal led an inspired third-quarter comeback that propelled the Bullets to a 2-0 opening round and top spot on the NBL ladder. Joey returns On Sunday night, the Adelaide 36ers visit the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, looking to bounce back from Friday’s disappointing home display against Melbourne. One man who knows that venue very well is Adelaide coach and former Bullets championship boss Joey Wright, but if returning to Southbank will be an emotional experience he’s not letting on. “It doesn’t matter if we don’t win. I want to win wherever we go, the only benefit is I get to see some friends that I probably haven’t seen for a long time,” he said. If his 36ers are to win they’ll need to play a high IQ game. No team has controlled tempo better to start the season than Brisbane, who are content to have veterans like Beal, Adam Gibson, Daniel Kickert and Co making plays down the stretch of close games. Changing gears The Bullets are allowing opponents the second-fewest field-goal attempts per game and the fewest charity shots in the league, while themselves taking by far the fewest three-point attempts and ranking only behind the high-speed Hawks for free-throw attempts. Adelaide were exceptional with their tempo control as they cruised to victory in Melbourne, but in the return clash they seemed rudderless in that area without injured skipper Mitch Creek, losing the possession game by 10 as United played on their terms. “O-boards killed us, we really wanted to control the tempo with these guys, you saw what we did last week controlling the tempo and put them on the back foot, but they controlled tempo in our own gym which was really disappointing,” Wright said. “Two things that aren’t a great recipe for success are giving up a large amount of offensive rebounds and 19 turnovers. “I thought our turnovers were extremely poor and just a lack of execution.” The 36ers finally clicked into gear in the final term and raced back to within five points late. Nathan Sobey was the sparkplug with 15 points and three assists, but Wright said it was the effort level his bench guard brought that really lifted the team. “He did a great job getting deflections, getting in the passing lanes, rebounding, I thought he was just fantastic all over the place in the second half,” he said. Stopping Jerome Adelaide will require more of the same with Creek sidelined (for up to 8 weeks), just as they’ll need the likes of Daniel Johnson, Eric Jacobsen, Matt Hodgson and Majok Deng more locked in on the defensive glass and their starting five not coughing up a combined 16 turnovers as they did Friday. If the 36ers can control the possession game it allows the brilliance of Jerome Randle, who is averaging 21 points at a blistering 58 per cent, to shine in transition before the defence is set. Most expect Randle will be a handful for Gibson and reserve Shaun Bruce – along with Brisbane’s big men defending ball-screens – but according to Gibson those same people are underestimating his running mate. “Shaun is great. I think people forget he started half the games for Cairns last year when they’re import was injured,” he said. “He’s a great solid player, he knows what we want as a team, he gets down and plays D, he’s a great organiser. “He’s someone who makes reads and is very easy to play with in the backcourt.”
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