Australian Hoops News - basketball

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Melbourne, AUSTRALIA (Aug 25) - Cairns Marlins clinched the first of the Continental Basketball Association's conference titles over the weekend, but this Saturday is the league's biggest day of the year as six more titles are decided.

Go see the North Conference game #2 wrap-up, as well as the Mens Finals Homepage and Womens Finals Homepage.

The national club competition, so long in the shadow of the professional NBL, is now solidly in the spotlight as it charges towards the national championship game on September 19.

In the mens South Conference, predictably Hobart Chargers will play Geelong Supercats in the decider. Hobart will win that with just too much consistant talent, but the national championship should be out of their reach due to long term injuries. Geelong do have the flash with conference MVP Clyde Jordan, averaging 26.5ppg, but Chargers have more substance.

Frankston Blues will beat Dandenong Rangers in the East Conference grand final on Saturday, and I expect will eventually play the North Conference champion Cairns Marlins in the national grand final. And that despite East Conference MVP Chuck Guittar playing well for Rangers.

You can't forget the Central Conference's South Adelaide Panthers and Noarlunga City Tigers, but I rate them at the same level as Hobart and not real national title threats this year.

Brisbane Brewers, well, they've made the national finals virtue of only the club's second trip to the North Conference grand final, decided last week. They have Ryan Stolberg and Ben Castle, both key players last year as Suncoast Clippers won the national title, as well as an in-form Andre Moore with NBA credentials.

But they, I believe, are another notch lower, at the Geelong level.

Mind you, that's star-gazing at the CBA's national play-offs a couple of weeks away - we still have the last of conference grand finals to enjoy this weekend.

Australian Hoops haven't covered the CBA womens competition much this year, but only because it's difficult to get news. But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot happening.

The North Conference's grand final series starts on Thursday night, and nightly reports will be updated right here at Australian Hoops.

Southerm Districts will beat Ipswich Eagles to win that conference title - their third in four years - and will win the CBA national title, thanks in part to the league's best centre, Trina Roberts.

Knox Raiders play Kilsyth Cobras in the South Conference decider led by All-Conference Jade Hyett, and will probably advance to play Southern Districts in the national grand final. But don't be surprised if Kilsyth pinch the South Conference title in this the most unpredictable of grand finals.

In the Central Conference, North Adelaide Rockets play Norwood Flames in a totally unkown encounter for me.

Every game night, there'll be a game featured and UPDATED NIGHTLY right here at Australian Hoops.

See the CBA Results pages for all up-coming finals.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA (Aug 25) - Australian Opals star and pin-up girl Trisha Fallon returns to the basketball court next week when she joins her fellow Australian teammates in a four game series against China, according to Basketball Australia.

Trisha will return to the team to play for the Maher Cup and to pay tribute to her Captain Robyn Maher.

Trisha, who is regarded as one of the best scoring forwards in the world, returns to take her place in the Opals after taking a year off to have a baby.

Opals coach Tom Maher does not expect Trisha's fitness levels to be an issue, "I think my expectation is that women who give birth should be better players because of the experience they have gone through".

Fallon commentated during the World Championships in May for Optus Vision and judging from her reaction of the Opals' success during the telecasts, she is looking forward to playing again.

This is the last time Australian fans will have the opportunity to see Trisha play in her own country for a while because straight after the China series she will be moving to Italy to play in their league. She expects, however to return to Australia for the 1999 WNBL season.

"It's very important for Trisha to play this series because of her European commitment straight on top of her recent absence - without this series it could be two years before she is able to play with the Opals again", said Opals coach Tom Maher.

The Maher Cup between the Opals and China tips off in Sydney on September 1.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA (Aug 21) - Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is in Australia launching junior basketball camps, and is full of praise for basketball downunder.

He likes Australia's Luc Lungley, of the Chicago Bulls, in particular.

"I like what Luke does for the Chicago Bulls. I like what he does for his team," he said, reports the ABC.

"He's not going to go out there and get you 20 points in 10, but he's going to go out there and do his job. He knows his role," Bryant said.

Could it be that Longley, who as a free-agent is able to sign with any team once the NBA loack-out is over, will join Bryant at the Lakers as back-up centre for Shaquille O'Neal?

The 20-year-old became the youngest person to play in an NBA match two years ago and is regarded as one of the new generation of top players.

Bryant said he is comfortable with references to him as potentially the new Michael Jordan.

Cairns, AUSTRALIA (Aug 21) - Andre Moore led the Brisbane Brewers in scoring for the third time in four games, but still the Cairns Marlins secured the first of the Continental Basketball Association's conference titles.

Marlins won 90-85 to clinch the North Conference's best-of-three grand final series 2-0, thanks to George Butler (pictured) with 27 points.

Moore, the former NBA player with the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks and an NBL All-Star in Australia with the Brisbane Bullets, has been criticised throughout this season for a lack of presence on court.

But come play-off time, Moore has shown more with powerful displays to get the Brewers to their first conference grand final in seven years.

However, the Marlins' Butler, out of Georgetown University, stole the limelight in the match with the game-high score. It was the Marlins' second consecutive conference title, and fourth in six years.

Moore scored 20 points for the visiting Brewers, with team mate Ryan Stolberg also scoring 20 points.

Cairns now host a National quarter final in a fortnight - they are a perfect 5-0 at home in national play-off games.

Brisbane, meanwhile, must travel away to open the national finals, hoping not to repeat their 1994 record loss to West Sydney in the club's only previous national final appearance.

Go to the mens CBA Finals Homepage.

Newcastle, AUSTRALIA (Aug 21) - Talks have been held with the board of the Western Suburbs Leagues Club, in a last ditch bid to save the National Basketball League's Newcastle Falcons basketball club which has debts of around $2 million, reports the ABC.

The Administrator of the Falcons, John Starr, discussed a rescue package with Wests and Basketball Australia's Bob Turner.

Wests' general manager Phillip Gardiner says the club will not commit itself to any deal unless there is some compromise from the NBL on the money it is owed by the Falcons.

Meanwhile, the NBL has denied claims by Wests that it has been a stumbling block during negotiations to save the Falcons.

NBL chief executive John Rimarz says the league has already accepted some of the club's debts will be written off, and has not been trying to push the Falcons out of the competition.

Bob Turner, a former player and coach with Newcastle, may be elevated to owner, if his recent ambitions are relaised with the Falcons. Turner had previously made a bid for the second Sydney NBL franchise, which ultimately went to the West Sydney Razorbacks.

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA (Aug 17) - National Basketball League clubs Melbourne Giants and South East Melbourne Magic will merge, reports the ABC.

The clubs have combined to form the Melbourne "Titan", which will play in black and teal colors.

Magic coach Brian Goorjian will head the new team and is expected to select the final player list early this week.

Both clubs deny the merger was financially driven, or forced on them by the National Basketball League.

Goorjian says he is excited about Titan's future.

"It's a good challenge, I'm excited about the challenge and there's going to have to be some tough decisions made and things that hurts a little bit," he said.

"But in the long run, as was in [the case of] '92, I think it's going to be better for basketball in this country, it's going to be better for the people."

Cairns, AUSTRALIA (Aug 16) - Amid the hoopla of NBA, Georgetown and Villanova dominating the CBA's North Conference semi final series, the nets were scorched by home-grown hero Tim Duggan.

The dimunitive 182cm guard, who last year captained the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team, poured in a game-high 34 points to secure the series 2-1 for his Cairns Marlins.

The 21-year-old Duggan out-shone his higher profile team mate George Butler, out of Georgetown University, and Gold Coast opponent Dwayne McClain, holder of an NCAA championship with Villanova University and time with the NBA's Indiana Pacers.

McClain was decisive in game 2 of the series the previous night (see game 2 report), but was well held today by the Cairns defense - rated the best in the nation. Doug Peacock was Gold Coast's best with 23 points.

Marlins led 51-44 at half time, thanks to 13-first half points from Butler, but closed out the game with Duggan leading the way. Cairns have never lost the third game of a best-of-three series.

Cairns now host Brisbane Brewers in the CBA's North Conference grand final series in a fortnight, the winner securing the conference title as well as home court advantage in the national quarter finals. Cairns have never lost a conference grand final series - Brisbane have never won one (they lost in 1991).

The last time Cairns and Brisbane clashed in play-off action was back in 1994 when the Marlins swept the series 2-0, and went on to take the conference title and eventually play in the CBA national grand final.

Marlins coach Rod Popp has led his team to three conference titles in the last five seasons, as well as two National Championship games.

Unfortunately for Popp, he lost both those nationally televised games, including last year. No other coach has lost two CBA national grand finals, which is a record he would dearly like to forget this year by at last going all the way.

All 1998 CBA finals results and up-coming matches are available at the Australian Hoops CBA Mens Finals Homepage and the CBA Womens Finals Homepage.

And don't forget, every game night throughout August and September, Australian Hoops will feature a selected finals match - with updated reports THAT NIGHT!

Cairns, AUSTRALIA (Aug 15) - Dwayne McClain, the hero for Villanova University in their last NCAA national title before he played with the NBA's Indiana Pacers, is a hero again - this time for the CBA's Gold Coast Warriors in Australia, as they forced a third and deciding game against the seemingly invincible Cairns Marlins.

"Villanova played an almost perfect game to dethrone supposedly invincible Georgetown for the NCAA title," read Sports Illustrated after Dwayne McClain had left Georgetown (and now New York Knicks) centre Patrick Ewing flat-footed. Georgetworn were the defending champions.

History may be repeating itself, after McClain led Gold Coast with 30 points in an upset 80-77 win over the Marlins in Cairns tonight, handing the defending conference champions their first loss at home in over 18 months. The CBA's North Conference semi final series is now tied 1-1, with game 3 in Cairns tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon.

Ironically, the leading scorer with 29 points for the Marlins was George Butler - who was playing at Georgetown University just a couple of years ago, where he was named All-Big East Tournament.

Warriors trailed by 3 points at half time 38-41 in a defensively dominated struggle.

Cairns had won game 1 of the series 97-95 the night before - see full match report.

The Cairns Marlins, conference champions in 1993, 1994 and 1997, boast the best regular-season record in the country with a 27-1 win loss record this season, to enter the play-offs as favourites for both the North Conference and CBA National titles.

Their previous loss at home was to the Suncoast Clippers early last year. The Clippers went on to win the CBA national title.

Go to the CBA Finals homepage for the full mens scores.

The full match report from game 3 in Cairns will be updated right here at Australian Hoops as soon as the full-time whistle goes on Sunday afternoon.

In the other North Conference mens semi final series, Brisbane Brewers upset home side Townsville Heat 107-101 tonight to sweep that series 2-0, and await the winner of the Cairns-Gold Coast match-up.

Ryan Stolberg, who was an integral member of last year's Suncoast Clippers national championship team, led Brewers with 30 points.

In the North Conference womens finals, Southern Districts Spartans and Ipswich Eagles will clash in play-off action for the first time, after both swept their series 2-0 tonight.

Go to the CBA Finals homepage for the full womens scores.

Alabama, USA (Aug 15) - It's a story not normally covered by Australian Hoops, but any news involving the legendary "Pistol Pete" Mavarich touches the whole basketball world - Jaeson Maravich, the 18-year-old son of the late basketball great, has decided to play for Alabama as a "walk-on".

"Jaeson will be one of our invited walk-ons," said Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried, who was not able to offer the younger Mavarich a basketball scholarship.

"I know the Maravich family through a mutual friend, and Jaeson and his mom, Jackie, got in touch with me and expressed an interest. They came to visit and liked Alabama very much. Jaeson is a great kid and a very good student, and we will give him a chance," Gottfried told Associated Press.

The 6-foot-5 Maravich averaged 17 points and six rebounds as a senior at St. Paul's High School in Covington, La., two seasons ago.

Hoping to hone his skills and get a Division I scholarship, he transferred to New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire last year but a back injury forced him to miss the entire season.

His father averaged 44.3 points per game during his career at Louisiana State and holds a number of scoring records -- including the most points, 69, scored in a single game against Alabama at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

He was named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players for its first 50 years. The elder Maravich died in 1988 of heart failure when Jaeson was 8.

Cairns, AUSTRALIA (Aug 14) - Cairns Marlins beat Gold Coast Warriors in the opening game of the CBA's North Conference semi final series in Cairns tonight, for the first step toward their fourth conference title in six years.

Marlins outlasted the visiting Warriors 97-95, after leading 55-51 at half time, to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

They were led by George Butler - the MVP of last year's conference grand final series - with 29 points, 21 of which came in the first half.

Gold Coast got 22 points from Dwayne McClain, formerly with the NBA's Indiana Pacers and a stand-out from Villanova University.

In the other North Conference mens semi final series, Brisbane Brewers upset home team Townsville Heat 105-103 in game #1, thanks to 30 points from Ryan Stolberg. Chris Hall poured in 29 for the Heat.

In the womens North Conference semi final series, Ipswich Eagles are hoping to move to the conference grand final for the first time in four years after upsetting defending champions Townsville Sunbirds in Townsville tonight.

Ipswich beat Townsville 86-72 led by Jenny Gardiner's 20 points.

In Brisbane, Southern Districts Spartans demolished Gold Coast Warriors 114-60 led by Trina Roberts and Julie Korst with 20 points apiece.

Spartans are now 1-0 up in the series and on track to eliminating the Warriors at the semi final stage for the fourth consecutive year.

Featured CBA play-off games will be updated on Australian Hoops EVERY GAME NIGHT throughout August and September.

See the latest available Mens Finals and Womens Finals scores.

Washington, USA (Aug 14) - Amid the current turmoil of the NBA, a new professional basketball league, with ambitions of going global, this week outlined plans to start play next year in eight U.S. cities.

The International Basketball League intends to begin in November 1999 with franchises in Albuquerque, N.M.; Baltimore; Cincinnati; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; Richmond, Va.; San Diego; and Tampa, Fla, reports Associated Press.

The league hopes to expand to 20 cities worldwide during the next five years. Mojor basketball countries would probably be on the agenda, with Australia a possibility. A 64-game schedule is planned.

In a structure similar to that of Major League Soccer and the womens profesional American Basketball League, players will be employed by the league rather than individual teams, allowing different markets to compete on equal footing.

Tickets will be about US$12 to US$15, with player salaries in the low six figures - prices within easy reach of most people. The NBA has been criticised by being too expensive and too highly paid.

The announcement in Baltimore, where the league is to be headquartered by year's end, comes amid an NBA player lockout that could last months.

The NBA said this week that season-ticket payments will be refunded with interest if games are cancelled.

"We don't really look at the International Basketball League as serious competition," NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said. "We feel that anything that brings more attention to the game of basketball is a good thing. We wish them luck."

The league will be open to any player over 18, with the presumption that those unable to meet NCAA standards or NBA-level talent would join.

"The International Basketball League is simply a new men's professional basketball league," Cipriani said. "We aren't trying to be a minor league."

Virginia, USA (Aug 14) - Queensland's Craig McAndrew left Virginia University at just the right time - their home court is falling down.

University Hall, where the Virginia Cavaliers play home basketball games, is closed temporarily as a precaution after some of the wires supporting the building's domed roof were found broken.

At least 31 wires were found broken in one place and one wire was broken at another location, reports Associated Press.

"It will be an inconvenience, but will not affect our ability to field competitive teams," said athletic director Terry Holland.

The 33-year-old University Hall houses the 8,500-seat basketball arena, locker rooms, and coaches' and other support offices.

McAndrew, from Mossman in North Queensland, returned to Australia this year after enjoying limited court time over three seasons at Virginia.

He was a member of the Australian Team which took the silver medal at the last World Junior Championships, and played with Perth Wildcats in the McDonald's Open four years ago which included a match against the then NBA-champion Houston Rockets.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Aug 14) - The Womens National Basketball League team Brisbane Blazers has folded.

The financially embattled team has been dropped from the women's national league competition this season after a Brisbane-based consortium withdrew its support.

An earlier deal to sell the club to South African interests also failed.

Reasons given for the demise included low game attendance, lack of sponsorship, and inability to attract key players.

What does that tell you about the state of profesional women basketball in Australia, where really only two clubs - Sydney and Adelaide - can be termed financially stable? Nobody wants it!

The Blazers were the only WNBL team in the state of Queensland, and were a team not enough people wanted - hence the stated reasons for the demise.

Queensland will now be better served by a strong presence on the national club competition (and amateur) CBA, which will surely now be the case, with a team's worth of WNBL players distributed throughout the half a dozen clubs in Queensland's south east.

Associated funds will now be used in player development, and not in propping up a franchise nobody wants in a shrinking professional league.

Meanwhile, Adelaide Lightning's chances of retaining the WNBL title have been dealt a blow, reports the ABC.

Australian representative Carla Porter will play in Germany and miss the next Australian season.

In a further blow, point guard Jae Kingi is due to have a baby in October, and is not expected to play before the middle of the season.

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