Adelaide 90, New Zealand 71
It's fair to say the Breakers weren't expecting Matt Hodgson to be their worst nightmare in the season opener but the Sixers rookie big man hit them where they were hurting hard- down low. Playing a shade under 20 minutes, Hodgson had 18 points and 9 boards (7 offensive) in a display so impressive Coach Wright will have to rethink his rotations. Maybe.
Before we start thinking he's the next Bradtke, he'll need to be tested against a true big. Up next is Nate Jawai, a beast of a man whose size will test him in ways the Breakers couldn't. Hodgson had 4 inches on Tai Wesley and almost 6 on Mika Vukona. He'll only have an inch on Jawai and about 40 less kilos so this will be a different test. Sans Pledger, the Breakers couldn't even keep Daniel Johnson off the boards (8 total).
Hodgson clearly has some tools to work with. He gets to good spots. He has good footwork. He has some post moves. He's a shot blocker. He's active. His true value will be known though once he's faced off against solid bigs like Jawai, Khazzouh and Ogilvy.
One of the not talked about positives of Hodgson's debut was how we played with DJ. That lineup gave the Breakers the most trouble and gives Adelaide the luxury of having a rim protector alongside DJ, who
Other things Adelaide will be happy with include.....
-That result without Kenyon McNeail. He played 5 minutes but mainly just came out to pass the ball around.
-Ebi Ere. He shot 3-9 on threes but certainly showed he can carry the offense in stretches.
-Sobey and Teys. Both hit a three and kept the offense moving while playing tenacious D.
Less exciting was Lucas Walker's debut (fouled out in 7 minutes).
The Breakers were down three of their best (Abercrombie,Webster & Pledger), meaning they had very shaky shooters and no inside presence. They were only ever a hope if Ced Jax carried them and Bartlett and TeRangi caught fire. Cedric was plagued by foul trouble all night and Bartlett and TeRangi shot 3-12 combined. So yeah they looked more like a SEABL team.
I'll be there Saturday night and look forward to seeing the team taking on their fiercest rivals. Especially keen to see how DJ and Matty Ho fare against Big Nate.