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NBL TotW20: Coaches to the fore closing reg season

THAT was one hell of a close to the NBL regular season, only Cairns, Tasmania, Sydney and Adelaide escaping Round 20 with a clean slate, while Melbourne, Illawarra and New Zealand contrasted great home wins with very interesting road defeats. Our Team of the Week was a tough call, last week's winner Perth this round going 0-2! 

Illawarra's home win over second-placed regular season finisher Perth was another terrific team performance as orchestrated by interim coach Justin Tatum. What a job he has done with these Hawks.

Tasmania similarly icing the Wildcats was another formidable effort by Scott Roth's focused crew, but Perth was down league MVP Bryce Cotton, which is substantial.

Mahmoud Abdelfattah had his Sydney Kings playing with a desperation and commitment so often lacking as they shredded a pathetic South East Melbourne by a season-high 55 points.

The Phoenix were seriously undermanned but their strategies and lack of discipline were beyond embarrassing. Their season could not end soon enough. 

Adelaide taking out New Zealand was a great finish for interim coach Scott Ninnis who was missing Trey Kell. But the Breakers, already minus All Star Five First "Team" forward Anthony Lamb, additionally had to deal with losing Finn Delany pre-game, then William McDowell-White in-game.  

Those performances, along with Melbourne's Coach of the Year Dean Vickerman showing there is still a place to indulge in the magic of the game by starting warrior Brad Newley on his 39th birthday and running the first play for him, was genuinely delightful.

So too Mody Maor finding a way to send Brisbane packing out of the playoff picture.

But if being named our Round 19 Team of the Week as Perth was, jinxed the Wildcats in Round 20, it had the opposite effect on the Taipans. Our Round 19 Team of the Weak As Pi$$ played a stunning final game at home against league leader Melbourne.

Whatever issues coach Adam Forde had with Tahjere McCall and possibly with his import offsider Patrick Miller, were shelved for the duration of this clash as Cairns, despite being down injured Bul Kuol and Jonah Antonio, slapped United around from go-to-whoa.

Having twice beaten Melbourne by 18, Cairns weathered a last quarter rally to complete a sweep of the championship favourite, this time by 16. It stood out as the round's best performance and again showed just how disappointing and under-achieving Season 2023-24 has been for the Orange.

They leave the season as our final Team of the Week after a convincing victory over an opponent which already had to know what was coming.

And while for many our final Team of the Weak as Pi$$ should be South East Melbourne by the length of the straight, it actually isn't.

For Brisbane to be on the cusp of playing in the finals and instead turn in a lack-lustre road effort to go down in flames to an undermanned New Zealand was sad to watch.

When effort is lacking or priorities are not collective, a Weak as Pi$$ performance is imminent. Bullets fans deserved better, Justin Schueller working hard to draw them so close to the post-season. Pity they didn't want it enough.  

Round 20 Cairns Taipans
Round 19 Perth Wildcats
Round 18 Tasmania JackJumpers
Round 17 Illawarra Hawks
Round 16 Perth Wildcats
Round 15 Brisbane Bullets
Round 14 Adelaide 36ers
Round 13 Sydney Kings
Round 12 New Zealand Breakers
Round 11 New Zealand Breakers
Round 10 Illawarra Hawks
Round  9 Perth Wildcats
Round  8 Adelaide 36ers
Round  7 Melbourne United
Round  6 Perth Wildcats
Round  5 Brisbane Bullets
Round  4 South East Melbourne Phoenix
Round  3 Melbourne United
Round  2 Tasmania JackJumpers
Round  1 Sydney Kings

Round 20 Brisbane Bullets
Round 19 Cairns Taipans
Round 18 Brisbane Bullets
Round 17 Cairns Taipans
Round 16 South East Melbourne Phoenix
Round 15 Tasmania JackJumpers
Round 14 Sydney Kings
Round 13 South East Melbourne Phoenix
Round 12 Brisbane Bullets
Round 11 South East Melbourne Phoenix
Round 10 Sydney Kings
Round  9 Adelaide 36ers
Round  8 Brisbane Bullets
Round  7 New Zealand Breakers
Round  6 Adelaide 36ers
Round  5 No Nominees
Round  4 Perth Wildcats
Round  3 Illawarra Hawks
Round  2 No Nominees
Round  1 No Nominees

Feb 20

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