Wed, Oct 4, 1:37pm by Head Editor
After the closest season on record, where three of the top four teams were tied, anticipation is mounting ahead of Thursday’s season opener between the Adelaide 36ers and Melbourne United, which begins the 2017/18 National Basketball League season.
Melbourne are the early favourites for not only this match ($1.65), but also the title ($3.50), after securing the services of both Craig Moller from the Sydney Kings and Casey Prather from the Perth Wildcats.
Joining them as debutants this year will be young-gun Peter Hooley, who averaged 12.5 points and 4.6 rebounds a game for the University of Albany in the US last season. These key signings have led many to call this squad, the Golden State Warriors of the NBL.
Melbourne’s first-up opponent, the Adelaide 36ers, have slid down to the third last line of betting ($10) to lift the trophy, after coming up agonisingly short last season, when they bowed out at the semi-final stage after winning the minor premiership.
Most of the scepticism surrounding Joey Wright’s men comes from the fact that last season’s MVP, Jerome Randle has left for Turkish Basketball First League club Bahcesehir.
Last season’s champions, the Perth Wildcats, are on the second line of betting, at $4, adding a couple of handy imports to their squad – J.P Tokoto and Derek Cooke – which will go some way to making up for the loss of Casey Prather.
The men in red are the most consistent professional sporting club in Australia, having made the playoffs 31 years in a row, so you’d be a brave man to write them off. They open their campaign with a home game against the Brisbane Bullets ($3.05), where they are the shortest priced favourite for the round, at $1.38.
The Bullets are on the fifth line of betting at $9.50 having signed three imports – Travis Trice, Stephen Holt and Perrin Buford – to the squad that finished last on the table last season.
The Sydney Kings are third pick at $5 to win the Championship, and showed some good signs in their history making match against NBA franchise, the Utah Jazz on Tuesday (AEST).
Coach Andrew Gaze had a busy off-season, signing no-less than seven fresh faces after his side finished a disappointing seventh last season. The Kings ($1.53) may be a tad jet-lagged when they host the 36ers ($2.51) in their opening game on Saturday.
The Illawarra Hawks were the fairy tale story of the league last season, when Rob Beveridge’s side made it all the way to the Grand Final, but having lost both Marvelle Harris and Michael Hollyfield this season, they’re expected to slide down the ladder. Sportsbet has them at $7 to go one better than last season.
The Cairns Taipans ($13) and the New Zealand Breakers ($15) round out the last two lines of betting, with both clubs doing little in the off-season to bolster their squads.
NBL Title odds – Sportsbet
Melbourne United $3.50
Perth Wildcats $4
Sydney Kings $5
Illawarra Hawks $7
Brisbane Bullets $9.50
Adelaide 36ers $10
Cairns Taipans $13
New Zealand Breakers $15
Adelaide 36ers $2.25 v Melbourne United $1.65 Line: 2.5
Cairns Taipans $1.77 v Illawarra Hawks $2.05 Line: 1.5
Sydney Kings $1.53 v Adelaide 36ers $2.51 Line: 3.5
Perth Wildcats $1.38 v Brisbane Bullets $3.05 Line: 5.5
New Zealand Breakers $1.65 v Cairns Taipans $2.25 Line: 2.5
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