Hungry Jack's NBL
Sobey soars as Bullets fire all over Taipans
Not even the ejection of Vic Law could deny the Brisbane Bullets from continuing their emergence during the NBL Cup with Nathan Sobey unstoppable in their 115-95 demolition job on the Cairns Taipans on Sunday.
The two teams had already played out an overtime thriller this season and with Brisbane looking good beating Illawarra on Friday and Cairns desperate to respond to a loss to Perth, this loomed as a tantalising battle at Melbourne's John Cain Arena between the Queensland rivals.
And the Snakes came out a motivated outfit putting together a strong first quarter capped off when Nate Jawai hit the floor making a stand to score seven of his nine points of the game to help his team to a 28-25 quarter-time edge.
It was all Brisbane from there though. Sobey took over the contest and was simply unstoppable whether choosing to shoot the three ball, drive and attack the basket, and push the tempo to help bring his teammates into the game.
The end result was a domination from the Bullets over the last three quarters outscoring the Taipans 90 to 67 to win by 20 and claim six of the seven NBL Cup points on offer.
Not only did Brisbane pile on the points with 115 on the back of shooting 39/74 per cent from the field at 58 per cent, 15/33 at 45 per cent from beyond the arc, and 22/25 at 88 per cent from the stripe, but they dominated the glass with 45 rebounds to 28 from Cairns.
Sobey was the star with 30 points, three rebounds and three assists on 10/16 shooting but he had plenty of other standout contributors in support.
Anthony Drmic put up 20 points and seven rebounds while hitting 5/5 from downtown while fellow former 36er Harry Froling put up 15 points and 11 boards.
Vic Law still had 14 points before receiving a second technical foul to start the fourth quarter while Jason Cadee had another 11 points and six assists.
Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis continues to marvel at the level Sobey is playing at this season.
"He's been playing well and I think he has been good for us obviously all season. I think it's come as a result of a few things," Lemanis said.
"His comfort level with where he fits in this team has helped and it's always when players change teams that it's about how it works and they need to find a rhythm of where they fit.
"It's all about working through the whole process and I thought last year he had to overcome a lot, and that stopped him being the player that we are seeing now. He had a fantastic off-season but what he's done is he has also matured and relaxed, and taken on some of the leadership role.
"He has taken that on his shoulders and as a result is feeling more responsibility for the group and understanding how he can impact it in different ways.
"He is playing with a bit of calmness about him and there was no better example for me than when he is dribbling, gets in the paint and doesn’t like what he's got and continues to dribble it and then turns around and gets basically a walk up layup.
"Last year he's not doing that and I think that the sign of his maturation with us as a team and him as a player."
Offence wasn’t the issue for Cairns and Scott Machado still put up 26 points and six assists, and Cam Oliver 21 points and six rebounds with some highlight emphatic second half slams.
Kouat Noi had 11 points but the Snakes just couldn’t stop the Bullets or grab rebounds in the end.
Taipans coach Mike Kelly rightfully wasn’t happy with the defensive performance but won't stop trying to continue to fix it.
"We're not getting the improvement we want on defence. Anytime you give up 60 in the first half and 115 over four quarters there's a problem," Kelly said.
"What we are trying to do is a lot of things but the guys are aware that it's an issue. We've trained through it, we've watched video and we've talked about it. We have tried to get line-ups in that will defend the way we want to defend, but we didn’t get it done tonight."
Nathan Sobey and Vic Law were on song early for Brisbane combining for their team's first 11 points, but the Taipans were feeling good with Kouat Noi, Fabijan Krslovic and Scott Machado delivering their first 15 before Nate Jawai come out to score their next eight.
Jordan Ngatai and Jarrod Kenny closed the quarter with threes to give Cairns the 28-25 edge.
Sobey then shot Brisbane into the lead to start the second quarter with the Bullets going on a 10-2 run and they'd never look back from there.
Orlando Johnson caught fire with a big dunk and an and-one, Anthony Drmic dropped his second three of the quarter and then Harry Froling took himself to 13 points in the half as the Bullets took control and led by nine on the back of putting up 60.
Tyrell Harrison had a five-point cameo to start the second half for Brisbane before Sobey again fired away for seven more points, and then Law and Drmic knocked down triples to mean that despite a 12-point Cam Oliver quarter for Cairns, the Bullets lead grew to 13.
Not even a flurry from Machado or the ejection of Law could change the tide with Brisbane putting up another 29 fourth quarter points to end up winning by 20.
The Bullets are next in action at the NBL Cup on Wednesday against the New Zealand Breakers while the Taipans face the Adelaide 36ers on Thursday.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 7
NBL CUP WEEK 2
BRISBANE BULLETS 115 (Sobey 30, Drmic 20, Froling 17)
CAIRNS TAIPANS 95 (Machado 26, Oliver 21, Noi 11)
POINTS AWARDED – Brisbane Bullets 6, Cairns Taipans 1