This season is a new beginning for the Bullets with a new majority ownership group headed by former NBA Player Kevin Martin; being announced in early October as well as a brand new home at the Queensland State Netball Centre. Martin will be looking to build on the success of last season that saw the Bullets return to the playoffs for the first time since their resurrection in 2016. Now headed by a former NBA star in Kevin Martin and in a higher capacity home ground, the Bullets are looking like the NBL’s dark horse this year.
Coach Lemanis should be happy with his squad this year and after winning the pre-season NBL Blitz Brisbane it has been all positive signs. The addition of key guard Nathan Sobey from the Adelaide 36ers will help open up the floor for sharp-shooters Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee. The return of MVP Candidate Lamar Patterson makes Brisbane a force to reckoned with each and every night. He’s joined in the front court by centre Matt Hodgson and Reuben Te Rangi, who played some massive games off the bench last year for Brisbane. Despite minimal minutes last season, Will Magnay showed what he can do when given the opportunity in the QBL and has turned heads all around Australia, averaging 3.3 blocks per game, often against fellow NBL players.
Games to watch:
Sydney at Brisbane, Friday November 8, 7:30 pm – Brisbane faces off against Sydney Kings, who have just added Casper Ware to their roster. Expect heavy pick and roll action with Hodgson and Magnay doing battle against Andrew Bogut.
Cairns at Brisbane, Saturday February 15, 5:30 PM – Brisbane’s last regular season game is against their nemesis from the north to decide once and for all who are the Kings of Queensland basketball.
The Snakes have undergone some big changes this year, with many of their big names retiring or signing to different teams. Alex Loughton and Mitch Young have retired after years of dedication to the Taipans and Melo Trimble, Cairns’ scoring leader last year, signed with Melbourne United. However, it appears head coach Mike Kelly has a couple of tricks up his sleeve, and Taipans were looking in good form during the NBL Blitz.
Fan-Favourites Nate Jawai, and DJ Newbill were recently announced as co-captains, leading a team of young, fresh players eager to prove themselves. George Blagojevic has been brought up from the Marlins this season; the fast moving forward looking to make an impact on the national stage. The Taipans have also brought on Scott Machado, who saw action last year with the LA Lakers. Machado is an unselfish player, always passing first if it means scoring a basket and could possibly give the Taipan’s playmaking a boost. Cameron Oliver is Cairns’ other new import, a super athletic forward who is not scared of any defender. Tai Wynyard has also signed on to Cairns as a development player, hoping to stage a comeback in the NBL. Some may remember Wynyard from New Zealand’s 2017 FIBA U19 campaign, where he led his team in points.
Games to watch:
Cairns at Melbourne, Thursday December 26, 7:30 pm – Put the kids to bed early, re-heat some leftovers and settle down to some Boxing Day basketball. Cairns face former teammate Melo Trimble with Melbourne United in what will be a thrilling showdown.
South East Melbourne at Cairns, Sunday January 26, 3 pm – The Phoenix fly up to Cairns to challenge the Snakes on their home turf for an Australia day showdown.
Townsville Fire have big plans for this season. After a disappointing end to last year, the Fire are eager to show the league that they shouldn’t be underestimated. Micaela Cocks is back as skipper for Townsville, returning to the WNBL for her ninth year. The Fire have also signed on former WNBL Coach of the Year Shannon Seebohm to replace Claudia Brassard.
Micaela isn’t the only returning Townsville player, versatile forward Darcee Garbin and offensive guard Tess Madgen both re-signed with the Fire, and Kate Gaze having recovered from an ACL Injury that forced her out of last WNBL Season is returning to the Fire. Sadly, the legendary Suzy Batkovic has officially retired from the WNBL, her absence on the court will be very noticeable to Townsville fans. However, fans should be pleased to know that the Fire have brought in some big guns to help them. Bridget Charleton joins the side this year, the 6’1 guard was the 21st pick in the 2019 WNBA draft and can provide plenty of value beyond scoring. Julie Vanloo was also added to the roster, the Belgium point guard has spent her career in Europe, picking up accolades in Italy, Latvia and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, Townsville’s young trump card Zitina Aokusa is out for 12 months resulting from an anterior cruciate ligament tear at training, it’s safe to say her return is anxiously awaited.
Games to watch:
Townsville Fire at UC Capitals, Sunday October 20, 2 pm – Townsville face the reigning champs at their home for the first of three games they play against each other this year.
Adelaide Lightning at Townsville Fire, Friday January 3, 7 pm – Last year, the Fire were only one win away from tying with Adelaide and making it to the playoffs. This year, Lightning g have brought on a new star in WNBA All-Rookie Team member Brianna Turner.