The NBL 2019-20 season ended last week, leaving basketball fans all over the world feeling with plenty of wonderful memories. While the series ended abruptly, there were a number of unforgettable and memorable moments throughout the course of its action-packed 6 months. Here, we look at some of the most memorable moments of NBL20.
Phoenix beat United on opening night
It was the most eagerly-awaited season-opener in a long time as Melbourne United took on S.E. Melbourne Phoenix. United was considered to have an edge as they had the home-court advantage. However, it was the Phoenix who grabbed the momentum within no time. It was a tense and hardly-contested game with various ebbs and flows. Eventually, Phoenix downed their crosstown rivals by 3 points. Mitch Creek was the superstar of the night, scoring 28 sensational points including the three-ball inside that clinched the game in the final minute.
LaMelo Ball scores back-to-back triple-doubles
LaMelo Ball was one of the biggest young stars to watch out for before the start of the 2019-20 NBL season. The 18-year-old sensation represented the Illawarra Hawks this season and was their star point guard position. Ball lived up to his reputation as he gave his team something to cheer about in an otherwise nightmarish season. His most memorable achievement in the season was recording back-to-back triple-doubles. Ball first became the youngest player in NBL history to record a triple-double with his 32 points against the Illawarra Hawks. He followed it up with a second straight triple-double against New Zealand Breakers while scoring 25 points. He thus became the first player to achieve this feat in 14 years.
When Hawks beat the Kings
Illawarra Hawks had one of the worst seasons ever as they ended at the bottom of the points table with just 5 wins in 28 games. However, even in this depressing season, they managed to shine on one night as they took down table-topers Sydney Kings on New Year’s Eve. In a scintillating performance, the Hawks punched above their weight and took the Kings by surprise by registering an 85-80 win. It was a team effort, with captain Todd Blanchfield and Josh Boone leading the way. That surprising win was one of the biggest upsets of the 2019-20 season.
NBL’s first-ever inaugural Indigenous Round
In a first-of-its kind move, the NBL decided to launch a unique Indigenous Round. Last season, a successful Indigenous game was played and this year, they took it further by making Round 18 recognize and acknowledge Indigenous culture and basketball across both Australia and New Zealand. All the games in this round included a Welcome to Country, along with other integrations. Each team wore unique uniforms designed by local Indigenous artists and it made for a heartwarming spectacle.
Perth Wildcats defend their crown
Defending champions Perth Wildcats were declared the league’s new champions after the Sydney Kings pulled out of the finals series. Perth was leading 2-1 in the Grand Final series and was all set to play Sydney in the fourth final game. However, the season was halted in an unprecedented fashion as Sydney decided to pull out of the last match because of the threat posed by the coronavirus. It was on odd end to the season but the right one indeed. It was Perth’s 10th title and fifth in the last seven years. Their leading star Bryce Cotton rightfully earned the NBL Finals MVP award.