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21 Mar 2018 2:26
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Basketball

    Big matchups loom in NBL after round 14

    Melbourne have gone top of the NBL after round 14 but some massive imminent matchups loom for teams below them on the ladder.

    Adelaide and Melbourne are running hot, Perth are hanging in there and New Zealand Breakers and Illawarra are facing some season-defining NBL matchups.

    When the dust settled after round 14, Melbourne had gone outright top.

    A little lower down, Adelaide and Illawarra were heading for a very significant mini-series in the next round.

    An 82-80 away win over Perth on Friday swelled Melbourne's victory streak to seven and ended a run of six successive losses against that side.

    The Wildcats looked set for another defeat on Sunday in Brisbane, when they trailed by 21 points in the second quarter.

    But a late basket from guard Bryce Cotton completed an 81-80 comeback win and ensured they finished the weekend second.

    Adelaide made it five wins in a row, following up a 100-90 home victory over Cairns with a 104-101 away conquest of Sydney.

    Fifth-placed Illawarra stayed in the finals hunt with a 90-79 home win over the slumping NZ Breakers, who have lost six of their past nine and are clinging to third.

    The Breakers could slip to fourth if they lose at home to Melbourne next Friday and Adelaide win at least one of their two games against the Hawks.

    Adelaide host Illawarra next Friday and the two teams clash again in Wollongong two days later.

    If the 36ers win both games, they will make it just about impossible for Illawarra to pass them on the ladder for the remainder of the season.

    "It's going to be tough to make the playoffs, we've got New Zealand and Adelaide three more times each," Hawks coach Rob Beveridge said.

    "But at least we know destiny could be in our hands."

    After starting the season 9-1, the Breakers are no certainties to make the top four, with three games to come against both the Hawks and Melbourne.

    "We can't afford to drop any games now," Breakers coach Paul Henare said.

    Barring a stunning form reversal, Melbourne won't face any such problems.

    Sparked by 21 points, 10 boards and five assists from Tai Wesley, United prevailed against Perth.

    They continue winning despite the absence of injured frontcourt stalwarts David Andersen and Majok Majok,

    "I think we've managed loads pretty well recently," United coach Dean Vickerman said.

    Adelaide coach Joey Wright pointed to getting back players from injury as one of the catalysts for his side's form surge.

    "We're playing some good ball at the right time, we're definitely in striking distance of the three teams ahead of us," Wright said.

    Sydney captain Kevin Lisch made his return to action after a calf injury, almost three months ago.

    However, the Kings lost following a 30-point barrage from Mitch Creek, who hit 11 of 12 from the field after not taking a shot two nights earlier against Cairns.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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