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Three-Points We Learned: NBL Blitz Session #3

   New Zealand Breakers 80 def by Perth Wildcats 86  The long-distance rivalry continues Given that these two sides have shared the past six NBL championships, it’s no surprise that this encounter was the most competitive we’ve seen at this year’s NBL Blitz. The competition’s powerhouse teams treated the Townsville crowd to a pure contest between two teams that hate losing, especially to each other. Despite an ankle injury to Casey Prather, Perth had the bodies to literally wrestle the points over a less experienced Breakers outfit.   No imports, no worries With so much focus on the recruitment of imports over this NBL off-season, the internationals had little influence on this match. Cedric Jackson watched on from the sideline and his teammate Charles Jackson fouled out in the 3rd quarter. Perth’s newest import Casey Prather subbed out early with an ankle complaint after less than four minutes on the timber. 2014/15 Wildcats’ MVP Jermaine Beal also saw limited action with concerns over his fitness. Both outfits had to rely on their domestic talent to get the job done and the intensity between the sides was largely unaffected.   Substitutions are vital Plain and simple, the Breakers ran out of players. When Duane Bailey fouled out with 6:30 left in the game, New Zealand were left with just 5 available players and despite not throwing in the towel, the Wildcats applied too much pressure in a physical encounter that produced 49 foul calls and a combined 62 free-throws.     Townsville Crocodiles 67 def by Cairns Taipans 82  This is the most competitive NBL Blitz Ever! The 2015 NBL Blitz has produced the closest first six games in pre-season history. The greatest half time margin in any of the game so far has been just seven points. In 24 quarters played over the six matches, only once has a team outscored another by double figures (Adelaide 31 vs. Sydney 16 in 3rd).   Taipans bench is the key to success Having players of the caliber of Mark Worthington, Cameron Tragardh, and Torrey Craig coming off the bench provides Cairns with a significant advantage. With the quality of this year’s League, it’s difficult to make a conclusive call, but the Taipans look to have the best back-ups in the competition. They virtually don’t lose anything with their second five on the timber. In two Blitz games, the starters have contributed 79 points, their bench 71, a balanced contribution.   Conklin is still the King of Townsville While he looked a little unsteady and lacked his usual touch around the bucket, Conklin proved once again that he is vital to the Crocodiles success. Despite fouling out midway through the fourth quarter, Conklin led the team in points (18) and rebounds (8), showing his presence is crucial, particularly with the inexperienced Crocs line-up. Despite another spirited performance, Townsville’s mission to defend the Loggins-Bruton Cup is now over.  
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