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R7 Review: Crocs send shocks while Webster scores new high

The giant-killing Townsville Crocodiles were at it again this week, sending shockwaves through the NBL as they claimed one of the biggest upsets in years. Meanwhile, two Wildcats made themselves known with starring roles in both Perth’s wins, Corey Webster schooled fellow scoring sensation Chris Goulding as United slipped to its third consecutive loss since starting 9-0, and some slick last-second execution gave Perth the win against Cairns in a week where Australia said goodbye to Al Harrington. Perth Wildcats 94 def Adelaide 36ers 88, Titanium Security Arena NBL teams beware! The Perth juggernaut has arrived. Casey Prather (20 points) and Nathan Jawai (14 points) gave basketball fans a taste of what they can do on Wednesday as Perth fended off a third-quarter Jerome Randle assault. Down 10 points early in the term, Adelaide went on a 17-6 run to take a lead, which they maintained into the final quarter. But some good play down the stretch from Jawai helped anchor Perth's run to the finish line in a defence-oriented 19-12 final quarter. After blowing by Ebi Ere for the game's first points, Prather found his groove by cutting well in the halfcourt and running in the open court in a 12-point second quarter. The game was a tale of two halves with 111 combined points by halftime and just 71 over the remainder of the way, as Perth revelled in the slowed pace. Randle scored a game-high 21, while Adam Gibson (15 points six rebounds, four assists) and Lucas Walker (11 points, eight rebounds) served the Sixers well. BOX SCORE New Zealand Breakers 86 def Sydney Kings 74, Qantas Credit Union Arena Al Harrington's farewell did not play out the way the 35-year-old would have wanted, as New Zealand willed themselves to victory. In a night where offence was hard to come by, the visiting Breakers outrebounded Sydney 51-28 and scored a massive 21-2 second chance points. Breakers centre Alex Pledger gave the New Zealanders a sight for sore eyes with a throwback 14-point (6-8 FG), nine-rebound (five offensive) performance, as he and floor general Cedric Jackson (14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) led the charge. Jackson left the floor at the 7:38 mark of the final quarter with a bruised knee after an awkward moment driving to the rack, and shooting guard Corey Webster took over. Webster and Everard Bartlett lit up the final terms with nine points each as New Zealand executed their way out of trouble, with a 24-10 run to close the game. Harrington scored a game-high 18 points in his final game in Australia, while Jason Cadee had 17 and three assists. BOX SCORE Townsville Crocodiles 82 def Melbourne United 78, Hisense Arena 'David v Goliath' would not even begin to describe the task ahead of Townsville at Hisense Arena on Friday night. Without their starting frontcourt including top scorer and rebounder Brian Conklin, Townsville faced a Melbourne side whose no-mercy approach was expected to blast the Crocs off the court following their first loss of the season. But for the first three quarters that approach was nowhere to be seen as United was content to blast away from the perimeter. Townsville needed every bit of their 18-point lead to stave off a United side that flicked the switch in a 27-13 quarter. Such was the rate of Melbourne's comeback, had the game extended another two minutes, the result would likely have been a coin flip. Crocs point guard Mitch Norton (team-high 15 points) ran the show to perfection in his 100th NBL game, while Nick Kay (14 points, nine boards) was the man in the paint. Chris Goulding top-scored with 22 points. BOX SCORE Adelaide 36ers 89 def Illawarra Hawks 77, Titanium Security Arena Just like the Breakers two days prior, Adelaide took a measured approach against the dangerous Illawarra Hawks on Saturday. Opening with a 33-point first quarter, the Sixers dialled things back for the remainder of the game, focusing more on defence. The scoreboard pressure they built in the first quarter allowed the home side to play with confidence as Anthony Petrie and Daniel Johnson owned the paint over the first half. The typically high-octane Sixers did not mind playing ugly either, winning the third term 15-8. Through leadership and game management, Adam Gibson offered more than his seven points and three assists would suggest. For everything Illawarra threw at them, Adelaide had an answer as Jerome Randle (20 points, six assists) kept the scoreboard ticking and Daniel Johnson responded to Wednesday's 10-point, three-rebound game with 15 and 16. Kevin Lisch (19 points) and AJ Ogilvy (17 points, six rebounds) led the Hawks. BOX SCORE New Zealand Breakers 80 def Melbourne United 69, Vector Arena Corey Webster torched counterpart Chris Goulding and Melbourne United on Sunday evening with a career-high 39 points. In a dour affair, Webster (13-25 FG, 7-9 three-pointers) was the only hot man on the floor, chipping in for all-but half of his side's total. Webster's career-high and NBL season-high drew high praise from United coach Dean Demopoulos, who likened Webster to reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry, such is his ability to put the ball in the bucket. After a 23-22 first quarter, things went south fast on the scoring front as the home side made just four field goals and missed all five of their free throws. The game remained in the balance as both sides continued to struggle from the field in the third term, while Webster – who netted 14 points in the first term – did it again in the fourth to help his side run away with the win on a 29-17 final period. Goulding again top-scored for United with 19 points, but was 0-7 from range as United shot 3-19 from behind the line. BOX SCORE Perth Wildcats 91 def Cairns Taipans 90, Perth Arena A genius play-call from Wildcats headman Trevor Gleeson in the final three seconds helped import Casey Prather ice the game for Perth on Sunday afternoon. Inbounding from the hash mark following a timeout, Gleeson used Jermaine Beal above the perimeter as a decoy to attract attention from Taipans players, as Prather played a one-two with Matt Knight. With the majority of players above the three-point line, the Wildcats made use of the open keyway as Prather inbounded to his power forward, then burned Taipan Torrey Craig, diving to the rim for an uncontested lay-up. Prather missed the shot but got fouled by the trailing Craig. Making the first foul shot, Prather deliberately missed the second so Cairns could not get a shot off in the remaining 1.5 seconds. The tight clash at Perth Arena was an uncharacteristically up-and-down affair again dominated by Prather (game-high 26 points) and Jawai (20). Quicksilver Cairns guard Markel Starks tried to drag his team over the line with 13 of his team-high 19 points in the final quarter, but a lack of late-game execution cost the typically well-drilled Snakes. BOX SCORE A condensed Round 8 tips off with two desperate New South Wales sides going at one another at WIN Entertainment Centre, while Melbourne have their shot at redemption in Townsville on Thursday. Adelaide tries to close the gap as they do battle with Cairns in the north, while the two form sides of the competition, NZ and Perth, are booked for a Friday night showdown in the Wild West. The Hawks host Townsville to end the round on Saturday evening.
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