The NBL preseason Top End Challenge is underway in Darwin, with twelve games scheduled over three days. Wollongong and New Zealand are undefeated after two days and will play off in the final on Saturday night.

Melbourne and Adelaide were first to tip off on Day 2 and it was the Tigers getting the first win by either team at the tournament with a four point victory, 82-78.

Nathan Crosswell scored 21 points and added four assists for the Tigers while Daniel Johnson added 18 points and nine rebounds.  Matt O’Hea chimed in with 15 points while Luke Kendall had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Nathan Herbert led the 36ers with 21 points, shooting 8-of-15 from the field.  Tom Garlepp added 15, and three other Sixers scored in double-figures, but it still wasn’t enough.

The Wollongong Hawks have continued to impress at the Top End Challenge, downing Gold Coast to score a 107-90 win.

Cameron Tragardh had a tournament-high 40 points to lead the Hawks to victory, going an impressive 16-of-20 from the field.  Glen Saville added 20 and Tywain McKee 18. James Harvey and Anthony Petrie had 19 apiece and Adam Gibson 17 for Gold Coast.

Blaze coach Joey Wright was ejected from the game with a minute left in the first half after amassing two technical fouls, with the score 55-49 in favour of the Hawks.

In the third game of the day the Cairns Taipans held off a dogged challenge from the Perth Wildcats to score an 88-77.

Rich Melzer had a game high 24 points and six rebounds for the Taipans in an impressive performance.  Phill Jones contributed 11 points and Julien ‘Skip’ Mills and Ian Crosswhite had 10 apiece.

Perth had five players in double-figures with Shawn Redhage and import Kevin Lisch both scoring 15, Stephen Weigh 14 and Drew Williamson and Jesse Wagstaff 12 each.

In the nightcap the Breakers scored a strong 102-91 victory over the talented Townsville Crocodiles to advance to the final in the last match on Day Two.

Reigning league MVP Kirk Penney had a team-high 23 points for New Zealand while rising youngster Thomas Abercrombie had 18.  Rick Rickert and Corey Webster both added 16.

Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams had a game-high 27 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Crocs in a virtuoso performance.  Import Rolan Roberts chipped in with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Cameron Tovey scored 12.


Thursday 3 September:
Blaze 83 (1-0) def Taipans 78 (0-1)
Hawks 100 (1-0) def Tigers 94 (0-1)
Breakers 84 (1-0) def 36ers 75 (0-1)
Crocodiles 85 (1-0) def Wildcats 82 (0-1)

Friday 4 September:
Tigers 82 (1-1) def 36ers 78 (0-2)
Hawks 107 (2-0) def Blaze 90 (1-1)
Taipans 88 (1-1) def Wildcats 77 (0-2)
Breakers 102 (2-0) def Crocs 91 (1-1)

Four games are scheduled for Saturday 5 September as follows:

5:00pm - 36ers (0-2) v Taipans (1-1)

6:00pm – Wildcats (0-2) v Tigers (1-1)

7:00pm – Blaze (1-1) v Crocs (1-1)

8:00pm – Hawks (2-0) v Breakers (2-0) (Final)


Gold Coast and Cairns got things going on Friday afternoon in a wild ride that saw 16 lead changes but the Blaze left the court victors by five points, 83-78.

James Harvey, who earlier this week was named Most Valuable Player at the Stankovic Cup in China while on Boomers duty, had a game-high 22 points for the Blaze while Greg Vanderjagt added 16 points and nine rebounds. 

Dusty Rychart led Cairns in scoring with 17 points, while fellow new Taipan Phill Jones added 14.  Import Julien ‘Skip’ Mills had 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

In the second match of the day, the Wollongong Hawks came back from nine points down in the first quarter to topple the Melbourne Tigers 100-94.

New import Tywain McKee had a game-high 24 points in his Hawks debut, while Cameron Tragardh added 20 points. Nathan Crosswell led the Tigers with 17 points and seven assists while Luke Kendall had 14.

Next up was the Breakers taking on Adelaide and it was the New Zealand side led by Tall Black and reigning MVP Kirk Penney accounting for the 36ers by nine points, 84-75.

With just 8 fit players to choose from, Coach Andrej Lemanis gave all who suited up valuable game time, including new import Awvee Storey as the Breakers led at every break, and at one point by as many as 20 points.

Penney finished with 24 points and 6 rebounds while Rick Rickert had a double-double to start the season with 24 points and 11 boards.

The nightcap was a pearler, with Townsville’s Russell Hinder nailing a long bomb with 6 seconds remaining to lift the Crocs over the Wildcats, 85-82.

Corey 'Homicide' Williams led the scoring for the Crocs with 20 points, while Brad Williamson and Michael Cedar had 13 points apiece. Boomers swing man Stephen Weigh top-scored for the Wildcats with 19 points while Beijing Olympian Shawn Redhage added 14.

You can follow all matches via LIVE STATS.