Championship Week claims Aussies as NCAA tourney nears

Championship Week claims Aussies as NCAA tourney nears

It has been a mixed opening to Championship Week for our Aussie stars in NCAA college basketball, with several outstanding performances from our next crop of Boomers’ talent.

A brilliant 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting from Brock Motum came within two points of causing one of the upsets of the season, with his Washington State Cougars going down 64-62 to bitter rivals Washington University in their first round Pac-12 Conference Tournament.

In a largely forgettable season for the Cougars, form was on their side as they finished the Pac-12 regular season with wins over UCLA and USC, with Motum dropping 51 points in the two games.

This form carried over into the battle with their conference rivals as they overcame an 11-point half-time deficit to almost claim an upset win.

It was the same story for Anthony Drmic and Igor Hadziomerovic, and their Boise State Broncos, going down to San Diego State in the quarter finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Despite 20 points from the in-form Drmic, the Broncos missed out on a dream match-up with #1 seed New Mexico, going down 73-67.

New Mexico’s Aussie duo of Hugh Greenwood and Cameron Bairstow advanced to a meeting with San Diego State after a scrappy 59-46 win over Wyoming.

Bairstow continued this impressive form since being elevated to the starting line-up, putting up 14 points and 8 rebounds as the Lobos close in on the MWC regular season and tournament double.

Cody Ellis and his Saint Louis Billikens begin their Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament on Saturday as they face Charlotte, while Jordan Vandenberg’s North Carolina State advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarter finals after a convincing 80-63 win over the University of Virginia.

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Andrew Bogut’s return from the treatment table has seen the Golden State Warriors win four from six and maintain a firm grip on the sixth seeding in the NBA Western Conference.

The 213cm centre has been dominating the glass since his return, averaging 9.5 rebounds as the Warriors look to hold off the likes of Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers eager to avoid a first round playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Aussie-clad San Antonio Spurs.

You can catch Bogut in action LIVE on ESPN this Saturday, with the Warriors taking on the Chicago Bulls at 1:30pm AEDT.

Despite the loss of star Tony Parker to injury, the Spurs have maintained their stranglehold on the top-seeding in the west, with Patty Mills thriving in the extra court time he is receiving.

The Boomers star has averaged more than 15 minutes a game through March, putting up the impressive numbers of 9 points and 2.2 assists in helping the Spurs win four of their past six.

Teammate Aron Baynes has been receiving limited court time, but impressed in recent outings against Detroit.

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Daniel Kickert’s recent move from Ukraine League strugglers Dnipro to league-leading Budivelnyk is proving fruitful, with the free-scoring Aussie guard providing potent offense off the bench in his two games with the club.

He will be hoping to impress once more when his new team look to rack up their 27th win of the season against struggling DniproAzot on Saturday.

FC Barcelona Regal are holding on to third place ACB Spanish League, but it is smooth sailing in Euroleague action for the Spanish giants, with Aussie pairing Joe Ingles and Nathan Jawai looking set for a trip to the Euroleague quarter finals.

Jawai starred off the bench in the crushing 94-72 win over Olympiacos, posting 8 points and 8 rebounds in 18 minutes as Barca improved their record to 9-1 with just four games remaining in the top 16 stage.

They face Besiktas on Saturday morning (AEDT) before ACB league commitments against CAI Zaragoza on Monday morning (AEDT).

It was a tough weekend for fellow Aussies in ACB competition, with Brad Newley’s Gran Canaria going down 69-53 to CAI Zaragoza, while David Barlow’s UCAM Murcia lost a nail-biter to FIATC Joventut 80-79.

Both have the chance to bounce back as UCAM travel to take on strugglers Lagun Aro, while Gran Canaria face Cajasol.