Cairns, AUSTRALIA (Sep 5) - Cairns Marlins still have never lost a CBA National Final at home, as they dispatched the Dandenong Rangers 100-89 in the quarter finals in Cairns tonight.

After leading 47-31 at the half, Marlins held on for the 11 point win led by George Butler (pictured) with 27 points. They will now host their national semi final next Saturday night.

Cairns, the North Conference champions, are now 6-2 in national play-off games (6-0 at home) in club history to boast the best such record anywhere, anytime.

While coach Rod Popp would be happy with that record, his heart-breaking loss in the national championship game last year must still be playing on his mind, making this championship drive an even greater obsession.

Ironically for the team with the best record in the nation this year for the third time, Cairns are the only club to have lost two national grand finals (1994, 1997).

Against Dandenong tonight, Marlins again proved why they have one of the most daunting defences and home court support in Australia, holding the East Conference MVP Chuck Guitar to manageable levels with 24 points.

Click here to see the CBA Mens Finals Homepage.

All CBA mens and womens national quarter finals will be updated on Monday night, which you can see through the Results Page.

Ballarat, AUSTRALIA (Sep 5) - The Australian Goldmark Opals took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the Maher Cup after a convincing win over the Chinese National Women's Basketball team 103-68 in Ballarat, reports Basketball Australia.

Teenage sensation Lauren Jackson top scored for Australia with (18) points and (11) rebounds in just over twenty-one minutes. Half-time leading scorer Rachael Sporn finished the game with (12) points and (7) rebounds.

The first half showed a more competitive China with the lead seesawing for the first eleven minutes of the game. China's Ma Zongquing fouled out of the game with eight minutes left in the first half. China's top scorer Wang Ling (27) points kept her team in touch with Australia going into the break with a 51-41 lead.

Australia, led by Sporn and Jackson, came out the stronger team at the beginning of the second half and China were unable to come within six points of the Opals for the remainder of the game.

The Maher Cup moves to the Dandenong Basketball Stadium this weekend for the final game of the series. The Opals' next big challenge will be the Goldmark Cup beginning in Hobart next week against world champions USA in a five-game series.

Australia won Game #1 of the series 102-53 over China, and 104-70 in Game #2.

Newcastle, AUSTRALIA (Sep 5) - CTC Resources, already a major backer of Australia's Continental Basketball Association current national finals, has moved into professional basketball by saving the National Basketball League's Newcastle Falcons.

The future of the Newcastle Falcons basketball club is looking more secure following a meeting this week of the club's creditors approving a rescue deal for the club, which is $2 million in debt, reports ABC.

Falcons creditors, including the Newcastle Entertainment Centre and the National Basketball League, agreed this morning to a deed of arrangement for $300,000 to be paid to Falcons management by Albury-based CTC Resources.

The deal will mean creditors receive around 15 cents in the dollar for the money they are owed.

NBL chief executive, John Rimarz says most of the NBL's debt will be written off, but he is pleased the Falcons will remain in the competition.

Mr Rimarz says it is a difficult decision, but the NBL has tried to do everything it can to help the Falcons.

Falcons' chairman, Paul Murphy says it is a great result and the club can now concentrate on getting ready for the beginning of the NBL season next month.

Houston, USA (Sep 5) - The Houston Comets had a purple towel that whipped them into a repeat championship combination, beating the Australian-led Phoenix Mercury, reports AP.

After a late second-half charge, the Comets beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-71 to win their second WNBA title.

Houston, which beat New York for the league's inaugural title last season, beat Phoenix 80-71 in Game #3 of the best-of-3 series after dropping the opener on the road.

The Mercury cut the lead to 62-61 with 7:40 to play. After that, they never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

The Comets trailed the Mercury by 12 points with 7:24 to play in Game #2 last weekend before rallying for a 74-69 overtime victory.

Comets coach Van Chancellor called a team meeting at Monday's practice and held up a white towel. He told them it was purple.

"If I say it's purple, it's purple," Chancellor said. "If I say it's so, it's so. You listen to me tomorrow and we'll win."

There were purple towels on the Comets bench for the deciding game.

Australia's Michelle Griffiths led the Mercury with 24 points, but the team got less from Australian guard Michele Timms, who finished with only two points. Mercury's third Australian, Kristy Harrower, played 32 minutes in the series decider.

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA (Sep 1) - There were no real surprises as the match-ups for the first round of the Continental Basketball Association's national finals were decided by conference grand finals across Australia.

After over 1000 regular season games in seven conferences of CBA competition and over 50 conference final contests, the 79 mens and womens teams that started off the season way back in march vying for national championships contention has now finally been narrowed down to the 14 qualifiers.

Now the two best teams from each of the four Mens conferences, and the two best teams from each of the three womens conferences are the only survivors.

The qualifiers for the CTC Resources National Championships are: Men - (North Conference) Cairns Marlins, ` Brisbane Brewers, (South Conference) Hobart Chargers, Geelong Supercats, (East Conference) Frankston Blues, Dandenong Rangers, (Central Conference) South Adelaide Panthers, Noarlunga City Tigers. Mens CBA Finals Homepage

Women - (North Conference) Southern Districts Spartans, Ipswich Eagles, (South Conference) Knox Raiders, Kilsyth Cobras, (Central Conference) Nth Adelaide Rockets, Norwood Flames. Womens CBA Finals Homepage

Go to the Results Page for full game reports and the up-coming National Quarter Final match-ups.

Houston, USA (Sep 1) - Having survived a near-collapse to reach this week's decisive Game 3 against the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Finals, the Houston Comets relish the fact that both teams' seasons are now on the line, reports Associated Press.

The Comets remain alive in the best-of-3 series because they came back up from a 12-point deficit with seven minutes left Saturday, sent the game to overtime and won 74-69. Phoenix had won the first game on its home court and was gunning for a sweep.

Australia's Kristi Harrower, who finished with a WNBA career-high 12 points for the Mercury, hit a 7-foot jumper with a minute to go to tie it 66-66 and both teams then missed chances to win in regulation.

Fellow Australian Michele Timms led the Mercury with 21 points.

With the finals even at 1-1 and two full days to mend various bumps and bruises, the Comets say they're primed to defend the inaugural WNBA title.

For their part, the Mercury haven't run up the white flag even though another hostile sellout crowd awaits them for the finale. Coach Cheryl Miller doesn't anticipate having to make many motivational speeches.

"There's no reason to try to keep this team up. It's the last game of the season, so I think that's enough motivation in itself," she said.

Mercury's Australian players Timms, Harrower and Michelle Griffiths will agree.

See the Game One report.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Sep 1) - Spike Lee and the expectations of the USA at the recent Mens World Championships are among the new release books available through The Bookstore.

"Best Seat in the House: A Basketball Memoir" is an outstanding read by film director and producer Spike Lee, and currently only available in the US, after hitting the streets last month - unless you buy through Australian Hoops. Buy it now and save 20%.

"Team USA: America Goes for the Gold in the World Championship of Basketball" is about the expectations leading up to the recent World Championships in Greece - and how the US were disappointed! (And Australia too, for that matter.) Buy here and save 20%.

These are just two of the new releases at The Bookstore where the latest basketball publications can be bought for a discount of up to 40% off.

Perth, AUSTRALIA (Sep 1) - In Western Australia, the State Basketball League starts its finals series this weekend with probably the biggest mismatch in the country, with title favourites Cockburn Cougars (20-4) hosting extreme outsiders Willetton Tigers (12-12).

The eight-team finals series gives rise to this quarter final mismatch, but make no mistake, upsets have happened before.

OK, so the Cougars boast the league's second highest scorer and second highest rebounder Alan Erickson, but the Tigers can, I mean, may win, can't they?

I doubt it. Cockburn haven't lost to Willetton in over two years, having won the last seven encounters, including a 32-point thumping the last time the two teams met at Cockburn.

Go the the Mens State League page for all the latest major SBL scores from around the country, the regular season ladders, and up-coming matches. Or see the Results Page for all other basketball.

Newcastle, AUSTRALIA (Sep 1) - The Newcastle Falcons' major shareholder, which recently announced a financial rescue plan for the club, again stepped in with an offer to pay the travel expenses for three players stranded in their home cities, reports the ABC.

Davis Samuel says it would pay to fly Todd Mundt from the United States, Grant Kruger from Townsville, and Dean Brogan from Adelaide in time for the team's first training session, further bailing out the National Basketball League club.

Falcons coach Sean Dennis said training would still be about a week behind schedule, but he advised his players to ignore the club's financial woes and get on with the job.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Aug 29) - Southern Districts Spartans secured a CBA National semi final at home in a fortnight, by clinching their third North Conference womens title in four years in Brisbane tonight.

Spartans beat Ipswich Eagles 101-81 in game two to sweep the series 2-0, and earn a bye in the first round of the National finals starting next week. Also see Game #1 report.

While their win tonight was almost a miracle after trailing by 14 points at half time, Spartans may need the real thing if they are to advance to their first ever National decider - they are 0-3 in national semi finals, two of these at home.

In the conference grand final tonight, Spartans trailed 35-49 at the half, before overpowering Ipswich in the second half to win by 20 points. They were led by Julie Korst with 28 points.

Ipswich, who got 17 points in the first half from Nicole Morrice, were paced by Jenny Gardiner on 22.

While Spartans enjoy a bye in the first round of the National Finals, Ipswich must travel to Adelaide for their National quarter final against either Norwood Flames or North Adelaide Rockets.

Ipswich are certain to be the away team, no matter which team wins the Central Conference grand final tonight, due to their inferior regular season win-loss percentage compared to both Norwood and North Adelaide.

See the Game #1 report. Go the the Womens CBA Finals Homepage.

Phoenix, USA (Aug 29) - Australia's Michelle Griffiths set a career high mark for rebounds, and scored the game clinching point, as the Phoenix Mercury beat Houston Comets 54-51 in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, reports AP.

The Mercury went two points ahead with 8.9 seconds left, before regaining possession afetr the ball went out of bounds.

After the in-bounds pass, Griffiths was fouled with 1.5 seconds to go and made a free throw, giving her side the decisive 3-point buffer against the defending WNBA champions.

Griffiths had a career-high 12 rebounds to go with eight points.

The best-of-3 series shifts to Houston this weekend.

Two other Australians, Michele Timms and Kristy Harrower, are also part of the Phoenix team.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Aug 28) - Southern Districts Spartans, or more specifically centre Trina Roberts, demolished Ipswich Eagles by 28 points in game one of the Continental Basketall Association's womens North Conference best-of-three grand final series, in Brisbane tonight.

The home side Spartans won 104-76 after leading 56-32 at the half.

Roberts, the favourite to win her second conference MVP award and perhaps the national award as well, led all scorers with 38 points, 23 of which came in the decisive first half.

Ipswich were led by former CBA National youth player of the year Jenny Gardiner with 21 points.

This is the first time Spartans and Eagles have met in play-off action.

Spartans are playing in their fourth consecutive conference grand final series, having won titles in 1995 and 1996, while this is the Eagles' first series appearance since 1994.

Both teams have qualified for the CBA national finals, with the winner getting a bye in the national quarter final, and home court advantage in the semis.

CBA conference grand final action continues this weekend around Australia.

Check out the CBA Finals Homespages through the Results Page.

Featured games are UPDATED NIGHTLY, with full weekend scores updated on Monday nights.

Hobart, AUSTRALIA (Aug 28) - In what could be a first for basketball in Australia, play-by-play action of the Continental Basketball Association's South Conference grand final this Friday night can be heard here on the internet, LIVE from Kingborough Stadium in Hobart.

Finals fever has hit the Geelong Supercats, whose sponsors banded together to bring the game LIVE to potentially 1 billion people world-wide.

Hobart Chargers are looking for back-to-back conference titles, while the visiting Supercats are chasing their first title in 17 years.

The game will called by Geelong court announcer Mark Brunger, the Supercat court announcer from last year's CBA National Grand Final.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Aug 28) - Brisbane Bullets coach, Brian Kerle, says he will decide on a new assistant coach soon, with the historic National Basketball League's summer season just six weeks away.

The Bullets have been rocked by the resignation of assistant coach, Steve Mcleod, who has left to pursue business interests, reports the ABC.

Early favourites for the job include Bruce Palmer, who replaced Kerle as coach in the late 80's, and former Bullets guard Luke Gribble.

"I haven't slept for two nights thinking about it and I have talked to Steve about it and he knows how I feel and the sort of person I need," he said.

Phoenix, USA (Aug 28) - Australians will lead the Phoenix Mercury when they open the best-of-three WNBA finals at home this week against defending champion Houston.

Phoenix eliminated the Cleveland Rockers in the semi final series 2-1 last week, with Australian Michelle Griffiths scoring 14 points in the decisive game for Phoenix, which finished second in the Western Conference, eight games behind Houston (27-3).

Griffiths finished third overall in the WNBA in field-goal percentage, while Mercury team mate Michele Timms ranked fourth in assists, with Kristy Harower also making an impact.

The three Australians will join the Chicago Bulls' Luc Longley, winner of three NBA championships, as the only Australians to win professional basketball titles in the US, if they can win the WNBA final series.

Other Australians Rachel Sporn, Carla Porter and Sandy Brondello returned home this week after their first season with the Detroit Shock, and with bundle of honours.

Sporn is back to captain reigning premiers, the Adelaide Lightning, in Australia's WNBL, but Porter and Brondello will miss the season after signing contracts with German team Wuppertal, reports the ABC.

Brondello took out the WNBA's award for the best free-throw percentage, and finished equal fifth in the newcomer of the year award. She also ranked eighth in scoring.

All three players will form part of the Opals team which will meet China in a four-game series in Sydney in next month.

Porter says playing in front of American crowds of up to 15,000 was quite an experience.

"We had a bunch of people that just had an Australian flag with our numbers up on it and they just loved Australians, you now they dropped Vegemite off to us all the time and pasties and things like that... it was just great," she told the ABC.

Furstenfeld, AUSTRIA (Aug 28) - Former Australian Boomers squad member Matt Zauner is playing for Austrian division one club Furstenfeld.

Zauner, formerly with the NBL's Illawarra Hawks, has joined Furstenfeld after a successful try-out in June. The club he joins are looking to build upon their 6-12 regular season win-loss record last year.

The 26-year-old centre, listed at 212cm, joins American Buie Coleco as Furstenfeld's second import. Coleco went to South West Missouri State University - the same NCAA division one college that spawned former NBL MVP Joe Hurst.

Australian CBA fans would remember the import for Oberwart in the Austrian league - Gene Dunbar who, with the Cairns Marlins in 1996, won the inaugural North Conference slam dunk contest.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA (Aug 28) - Women's World Champions USA will be in Australia next month to take on bronze medallists Australian Opals in a five-game series, reports Basketball Australia.

The USA have put back-to-back gold medal wins together, winning at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 1998 World Championships. The US team is star-studded, so much so in fact that USA Basketball guru Carol Callan declared this to be one of the best US teams ever fielded.

Absent from the World Championships was superstar Teresa Edwards, but she's back in the line up to take on Australia, along with standouts Lisa Leslie and Natalie Williams.

The full USA team for the September tour is : Jennifer AZZI, Teresa EDWARDS, Shalonda ENIS, Yolanda GRIFFITH, Shannon JOHNSON, Lisa LESLIE, Nikki MCCRAY, DeLisha MILTON, Crystal ROBINSON, Katie SMITH, Tina THOMPSON, Natalie WILLIAMS.

The Head Coach is Nell Fortner and Assistant Coach Orlando Woolridge.

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA (Aug 28) - The National Basketball League says it supports a financial rescue package for the debt-ridden Newcastle Falcons, but a decision on the club's future rests with its creditors, reports the ABC.

The club's administrator put the deal to creditors this week, which is believed to have been put together by a consortium including the Newcastle Knights rugby league club.

The NBL had set a deadline earlier this week for the Falcons to be included in the summer competition, but has agreed to extend the deadline until after a creditors' meeting.

The NBL says it is confident the Newcastle Falcons will remain a part of the competition.


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