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The 20 Most Unforgettable Moments of NBL20

By Liam Santamaria.

  

One thing’s for sure: we will never forget NBL20.

 

For all sorts of reasons, some more celebrated than others, the 2019-20 NBL season was a roller-coaster ride of memorable moments and high drama.

 

From electrifying Next Stars and the birth of a new club to a neck-and-neck finals race and an unusual championship series, NBL20 was jam-packed with excitement, spectacle and intrigue.

 

It was a season of record-breaking crowds and all-time great performances as well as loss, heartbreak and controversy.

 

NBL20 had it all.

So, to help memorialise arguably the most extraordinary season in league history, here are twenty of the most unforgettable moments from NBL20.

 

October 3, 2019: Phoenix over United on opening night       

 

It was the most highly-anticipated season-opener in recent memory and the Phoenix grabbed the moment with both hands, knocking off their crosstown rivals in the inaugural ‘Throwdown’. Mitch Creek was huge with 28 points, including the game-sealing three-ball inside the final minute.

The win helped vault the Phoenix to a record-breaking start, becoming the first new franchise in league history to begin their existence with three straight wins.

 

BONUS: October 9, 2019: Abercrombie on Jackson Jr.

 

While not technically part of the 2019-20 NBL season, this one’s a bit of a personal favourite and deserves a mention. I mean, c’mon… Abercrombie put Jaren Jackson Jr. in the rim!

 

October 18, 2019: Taipans beat Perth in Perth

 

This was the night the 2019-20 Taipans arrived. With Machado, Newbill and Oliver running riot, the giant killers got their first win of the season in spectacular fashion.

 

October 20, 2019: Cotton waves off United

 

It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to bounce back though, as the MVP bid the Melbourne United fans farewell.

 

October 24, 2019: Hampton vs Ball

 

Most. Watched. Game. In. NBL. History.

 

November 25 & 30, 2019: Back-to-back LaMelo Ball triple-doubles

 

The kid had back-to-back triple doubles! It was pretty incredible at the time and is just as impressive in retrospect.


Ball’s second effort in Auckland was nice but it was his performance in the overtime win over Cairns that we’ll all remember.

 

 

December 15, 2019: Roberson shoots down Cairns

 

Speaking of unforgettable individual efforts, the shooting display John Roberson put on to topple the Snakes in mid-December was out of this world.


Down six with a little over ten seconds remaining, Roberson drilled back-to-back triples to force OT and then poured in 15 points in the extra period. Unbelievable.

 

December 21, 2019: Magnay Mania

 

This was the season young Brisbane star Will Magnay exploded into prominence and the game that kick-started ‘Magnay Mania’ was this one, right before Christmas.


Making his first career start, the 21-year-old put 23 and 14 on Andrew Bogut and the Kings. From there he never looked back.

 

 

December 22 & 27, 2019: Back-to-back Scotty Hopson game-winners

 

When the Breakers clicked into gear in the second half of NBL20 they became an almost-unstoppable force, winning 11 of their final 14 games.


Leading the way was, of course, Hopson, whose back-to-back game-winners in late December were all kinds of clutch.

 

December 28, 2019: Grand Final Preview

 

Cotton’s 39-point performance against the Kings in Round 13 was a Grand Final preview in more ways than one. The MVP was unstoppable, Sydney’s home fans were left stunned and the Wildcats came out on top.

 

 

December 31, 2019: Hawks beat Kings

 

Victories were few and far between for the Hawks throughout NBL20 but their triumph over Sydney on New Year’s Eve was a shining light.

Any time the bottom team beats the top one it’s a memorable result and that’s especially true when it’s little brother down the highway getting the upper hand.

 

 

January 25, 2020: Plumlee arrives

 

Would the Wildcats have won the title with Dario Hunt? Maybe. Probably not.

Instead they swung the axe and the move paid considerable dividends.


Miles Plumlee landed in Perth in early January but it was on this night that he truly arrived on the NBL scene, dominating the Breakers with a rim-rattling display.

 

 

January 26, 2020: Casper kills his former team…. Again!

 

After putting 34, 27 and 28 on Melbourne United in their three previous meetings, Casper Ware put the hurt on his former team again in Round 18, draining eight triples on his way to a game-high 26 points.


Ware’s determination to haunt his old squad throughout the regular season was very fun to watch.

 

 

January 29 – February 2, 2020: Indigenous Round

 

Round 18 was the NBL’s first ever Indigenous Round as everyone involved in the competition celebrated Indigenous culture across Australia and New Zealand.

An historic moment and a big step forward for our league.

 

 

February 16, 2020: Finals determined on final day

 

The battle for fourth spot was a thrilling subplot that dominated the final few weeks of the regular season.


At different times it appeared either the Breakers or Bullets were headed towards postseason action but, in the end, it was Melbourne who snuck their way in. Thank goodness they did too, because that series against Sydney was a classic.

 

 

February 28, 2020: Cotton puts 42 on Cairns

 

Man on a mission.

 

February 29, 2020: Crazy Kings comeback

 

The Kings were down 16 midway through the fourth quarter of the opening game of their semi-final series against Melbourne. And they won!


It was one of the greatest comebacks in NBL history, with Sydney outscoring United 24-2 down the stretch in front of a raucous home crowd.

 

 

March 2, 2020: Melbourne spank Sydney

 

Two nights later, Melbourne got their revenge – and then some! – completely annihilating the Kings by an incredible 45 points.

 

 

March 13, 2020: All quiet in the Jungle

 

With the troubling spread of COVID-19 gaining momentum, the NBL, Kings and Wildcats responded by closing the doors to the championship series.

The result was a bizarre scene of a Grand Final game being played at RAC Arena with only family, close friends and cardboard cut-outs in attendance. Remarkably, the standard of play remained world-class and, after a game we’ll never forget, the Kings tied things up at one win apiece.

 

 

March 15, 2020: Cotton & Kay torch Kings

 

Perth’s dynamic duo combined for 61 points in their team’s bounce-back win, becoming only the second pair of team-mates in league history to score 30 points each in a Grand Final game.

 

 

March 19, 2020: Wildcats named Champions

 

As I said, we will never, ever forget NBL20. It was an extraordinary season in so many ways, including how it finished up.

 

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