If there was a blueprint on how to win the NBL championship, there would be one fairly common theme – make sure Casey Prather is on the roster.
Prather has played three seasons in the NBL and won three championships – 2016, 2017, 2018 – and made a thunderous statement to the league last night that, yes, the ruler’s back.
After spending last season in Europe where he was hampered by injury, Prather squashed any doubts about his health in Melbourne United’s 111-70 win over the Illawarra Hawks in Ballarat on Friday night.
The 2017 All-NBL First Team member amassed 31 points, five rebounds and four steals, shooting 12-of-20 from the field. Prather also provided the Ballarat crowd with spades of entertainment, throwing down some hellacious slam dunks.
— Melbourne United (@MelbUnitedHQ) September 13, 2019
Shawn Long also flexed his muscle for Melbourne, recording a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Melo Trimble and Mitch McCarron both added 12 points, while Ballarat local Sam Short posted 11 points in front of his home crowd.
NBL Next Star and projected first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft LaMelo Ball made his debut against league opposition and put together a solid night’s work. Ball posted a team-high 14 points and showed some initiative on the defensive end with three steals.
Other top scorers for the Hawks included AJ Ogilvy with 12 points, Aaron Brooks with 11 and Tim Coenraad with 11 off the bench.
Click here for the full stats from the Melbourne Illawarra game.
1 savage dunk.
Welcome back to the NBL, @cprather24 ?
— NBL (@NBL) September 13, 2019
The Cairns Taipans also had a strong showing on Friday night, taking down their local rivals Brisbane Bullets 96-66. Cairns used a 28-10 final quarter to lock down the win.
In what was an all around team performance from the Taipans, youngster George Blagojevic and import Cameron Oliver led the way, with both leading Cairns in scoring with 13 points. DJ Newbill scored 12 points and Nate Jawai added 10 points off the bench.
Impressive rookie Kouat Noi fell short of a double-double, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds.
The Bullets had just one player reach double-digit scoring in EJ Singler with 10 points.
Click here for the full stats from the Cairns Brisbane game.
Spot Cam Oliver in warm-up mode ? pic.twitter.com/KaZ766OBFq
— Cairns Taipans (@CairnsTaipans) September 13, 2019