The World of Basketball is Changing – or is it? – USA Out of World Cup

For the first time since 2006, the USA won’t win Gold. And for the first time ever Australia’s Boomers have made it to through to the semi finals.

Perhaps what this shows is two things. First the NBA fiercely protects its players. Of the 35 players selected last year for the Team America squad only 4 ended up playing.

The second factor is that the sport is becoming truly global. Based on their talent, it could well be the Boomers will be a force to be reckoned with. Yes we can dream. The Boomers meet its nemesis Spain. Spain denied the Boomers a Bronze Medal in Rio De Janero at the last Olympics. Game Time 6pm Friday 13th.

Read about it all here…

USA knocked out of FIBA basketball World Cup, Australia advances to semi-finals for first time

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The Boomers have flown into the semi-finals of the FIBA basketball World Cup, but the favourites and reigning champion US team are out after suffering a shock defeat to France.

French star Evan Fournier scored 22 points and Rudy Gobert had 21 points with 16 rebounds as France beat the US 89-79, rallying from a seven-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull off the upset.

For the first time since 2006, the US sent NBA players to a major international tournament and won’t win gold.

This is the first time the US will not win a medal at the World Cup since being stunned on home soil in 2002.

“[We’ve] just got to take it like a man at this point,” US guard Kemba Walker said.

“We lost. There’s nothing we can do. We competed. We’ve been competing since day one that we got to training camp. But we gave it everything we’ve got.

“I know we’re Team USA and things of that nature and they’ve been winning for a lot of years, but you know, we didn’t get a chance to pull it off.”

The US team was heavily undermanned heading into the tournament, with CJ McCollum — a player who was initially selected but later withdrew from the squad — saying that a fear of failure could have been to blame.

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‘What did you expect?’

Many pundits in the US were writing Team USA off before they even arrived in China.

Suffering a first-ever defeat to the Boomers in Melbourne before the World Cup just added fuel to the fire as journalists said the early exit came as no surprise.

“What’d you expect? I mean you rolled out your C team,” Former NBA star Raja Bell said.

“I’m not surprised that they ended up getting beat by someone because while they’re good players, they’re not the best that we have to offer.”

The US team had several high-profile players pull out of the squad in the early stages of training, with the AP reporting that of the 35 players originally picked last year, just four made it to China.

That led some US-based journalists to question the selection process.

“[It] doesn’t matter who is on the team, and I couldn’t be more proud of these 12 guys who sacrificed their summer to come here, having never played with each other before,” US coach Gregg Popovich said.

“They put themselves in the arena and competed, and they deserve credit for that, just like France deserves credit for winning. It’s not about, ‘Well, the United States didn’t have their other guys’.

“There’s no such thing as other guys. These are the guys that were here, and they did a great job, and I’m very proud of them.”

The US had won 58 consecutive tournament games in FIBA and Olympic competition, starting with the bronze-medal game at the 2006 World Championships and continuing through every FIBA Americas, World Cup and Olympics event since.

It was bidding to become the first nation to win three consecutive World Cups, after winning three straight Olympic golds in that span but will now focus on the Olympics in Japan next year.

“Any loss hurts,” Popovich said.

“And in this situation, it hurts more.

“But life goes on. This is very important and we would have loved to have won … but we’re all grown, we all have families and lives and life goes on.”

Boomers qualify for World Cup semis

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The Aussie Boomers have qualified for the Basketball World Cup semi-finals for the first time, after defeating Czech Republic 82-70 in China.

The Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarter-finals in 11 previous appearances, defeated the tournament debutants on Wednesday night, and will meet Spain on Friday.

It was Spain who broke Australian hearts at the last Olympics by denying the Boomers a first ever medal in global competition by prevailing in the bronze medal match.

Meanwhile, France has upset the United States after winning 89-79 and will also advance to the semi-finals where they will take on Argentina.

This was Australia’s sixth straight win in China, and in doing so, they avoided becoming the latest surprise casualty at this unpredictable World Cup.

“They caused us to be a little anxious early,” Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said.

“It took a while to find our rhythm offensively but once we did I thought we did a nice job.”

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San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills was again the standout, leading the scoring with 24 points.

The 31-year-old guard also had six assists and four rebounds.

Argentina stunned favourites Serbia on Tuesday while reigning two-time champions the United States were dumped out by France on Wednesday.

Australia were heavy favourites in Shanghai against the Czechs, who bravely hung on until midway through the third quarter, when the Boomers cranked up the pressure.

Australia had survived the World Cup “Group of Death” also including Canada, Senegal and Lithuania, before beating the Dominican Republic and then fellow semi-finalists France in a thriller.

Veteran Australian Andrew Bogut was again loudly booed throughout by fans in Shanghai upset with a tweet he wrote in July about Chinese swimming star Sun Yang.

He goaded the crowd afterwards with a dance as he came off the court.

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Source: abc.net.au

Nellakir are Victoria and Tasmania’s leading experts in Timber Sports Flooring. From full construction to annual maintenance and scheduled court cleaning, it’s simply one call – Nellakir – 03 9467 6126.

Sports Flooring for Champions

Go Boomers!

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Nearly a clean sweep! Raptors take the title 4-2

For the first time a team from outside the US has taken the NBA Championships – the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors won the last game – game 6 – 114/110. So it was still a close result. But winners are grinners!

Ok so it wasn’t really close to a clean sweep, but a clean sweep is what you get when you decide to engage Nellakir for your regular maintenance on your premium Timber Sports Flooring.

Engage Victoria’s leading experts to ensure you provide the perfect playing surface for every game.

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Schedule a free consultation and ensure your facility presents its Timber Sports Flooring in premium condition.

Meanwhile, here is a full report on the Raptors big win, the last game of the series and that title.

Toronto Raptors Win the NBA Championship

With a victory in Game 6, the Raptors dethrone the league’s reigning dynasty and claim the first title in franchise history

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OAKLAND, Calif.—Before the first NBA team outside the U.S. ever played a game, the new franchise in Toronto needed a name. The owners asked the entire nation of Canada for ideas. Some were good. Some were bad. Some were terrible. And one was the Raptors. It was 1994. “Jurassic Park” was big. That was reason enough for this basketball team to be named after dinosaurs.

Now the Toronto Raptors can be called something else: NBA champions.

The Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6 of the Finals on Thursday to win the series, 4-2, with a commanding performance on the road in Oracle Arena’s last game to dethrone the league’s reigning dynasty and win the Raptors’ first title.

To hear “Toronto Raptors” and “NBA champions” in the same breath would’ve sounded like a hallucination to most fans for most of the franchise’s existence. This is the same team that once played in purple dinosaur uniforms. They couldn’t keep star players and couldn’t attract free agents. Toronto was too cold, too Canadian, too much unlike any other team in the league to compete at this level.

But now they have to declare the Larry O’Brien trophy at customs because of someone who has always been different himself.

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There is no one in the NBA like Kawhi Leonard. He is quieter than every other player. He is also better. And he just put together one of the greatest playoff runs in the history of the league.

But it wasn’t just him in a Game 6 that was both a classic and a fittingly insane send-off to this arena. Kyle Lowry scored 26 points. Pascal Siakam, who was studying to be a Catholic priest in Cameroon less than a decade ago, also scored 26 points. Fred VanVleet, an undrafted guard who is very generously listed at 6 feet tall, had 22 points and hit some of the biggest shots in the game.

Still, it was barely enough. The Warriors were the champions for a reason and they refused to go down without a fight. They didn’t have Kevin Durant, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in Game 5. Then they lost Klay Thompson, who was having a brilliant game when he went up for a dunk attempt in the third quarter and went down with a torn ACL. He tried to stay in the game anyway.

But after 47 minutes of pandemonium, there was one last minute of craziness and the Warriors had a shot that everyone in the Bay Area would’ve sold their houses for: a Stephen Curry 3-pointer for the win. “I just thought it was in,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I always think every shot Steph takes is going in.”

This one didn’t. Curry missed. The Warriors called a timeout that they didn’t have. And the Raptors won the championship.

They are one of the strangest championship teams the NBA has ever seen. This is a team without a lottery pick but with a foundational superstar player who might be gone after just one season. It’s a team with a rookie coach who spent decades in the G League and Great Britain. It’s a team that took a long, winding road to get here and couldn’t be exactly sure where it was going.

But this is also a team that pursued a surprisingly rare strategy: the Raptors did everything in their power to win a championship this year.

Toronto’s season that ended in confetti began nearly a year ago in a hotel room in Kenya. That’s where Raptors President Masai Ujiri pulled the trigger on the trade that would change the future of his franchise.

His team was coming off the two winningest seasons in its history, but the Raptors kept crashing into a ceiling with an odd resemblance to LeBron James, and their city had become known by another name: LeBronto. Ujiri needed to make drastic changes. He’d already fired the league’s reigning coach of the year and hired Nick Nurse. Now it was time for him to get rid of the face of the franchise. By trading DeMar DeRozan for Leonard, the Raptors gambled on getting an even better player, and maybe even the best player in the world.

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It would be the most successful bet they ever made.

But first they had to make another one. Leonard was coming off a mysterious injury that sidelined him for most of last season, and nobody seemed to know what kind of player he would be when he returned. As if that weren’t enough uncertainty, Leonard was also in the final year of his contract, meaning the Raptors might not have enough time to find out.

That was plenty of incentive for them to prioritize Leonard’s health above everything. They needed to do everything in their power to make sure he peaked in the playoffs.

Under the care of Alex McKechnie, a Scottish sports scientist with a shock of white hair, the Raptors crafted a radical plan for their star player: They played him less. He only played in 60 of 82 games and didn’t play on consecutive days all season. But it worked. By pacing him in the regular season, they positioned him to be incredible in the postseason.

He was. But he also needed to be.

The Raptors were down 1-0 to the Orlando Magic in the first round and 2-1 to the 76ers the next round in front of a crowd of polite, exceedingly civil Philadelphians. They required a buzzer-beating shot from Leonard to bounce four times to win Game 7 of that series, and their reward was a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, who had the NBA’s best record and likely Most Valuable Player. This time they were down 2-0 before ripping off four straight wins to get to the Finals.

And then the Raptors had to play the Warriors.

NBA teams tend to live unhappily ever after once that happens. The Warriors were chasing a three-peat and their fourth title in five years. They were two more wins away from a place among the game’s all-time great dynasties.

By the time they crossed the border, though, they were no longer capable of their particular brand of basketball terror. Durant missed four games with a calf injury and then went out in Game 5—a devastating blow that cast a pall on the series and changed the complexity of the entire league.

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It slowly became clear over the course of the series that the Raptors were simply better than a team making its bid to be one of the best ever.

This was Ujiri’s vision. He urged Toronto to believe in itself at the beginning of the season. He repeated that message after the Raptors won the Eastern Conference and what felt like the great misfortune of playing the Warriors.

“We came all this way to compete, and we want to win in Toronto,” Ujiri said. “And we will win in Toronto.”

Ujiri was right about so much this season. But he was wrong about that final prediction: they won in Oakland. And now it no longer sounds absurd to say the Raptors really are the NBA champions.

Source: wsj.com

So remember, provide the sports flooring that will produce the next Steve Curry – Timber Sports Flooring by Nellakir.

Sports Flooring for Champions.

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A clean sweep with Nellakir, but Raptors Vs Warriors will go down to the wire.

Nellakir now offer regular court cleaning for all Timber Sports Flooring. Cut down on unnecessary wear and tear on your valuable sports floor surfaces. Nellakir offer expert service and advice on all Timber Sports Flooring – including regular cleaning, whether it’s weekly, pre event, post event or to you schedule. Call now on 03 9467 6126.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have struck back. Andrew Bogut injured in the third leaving an already decimated Warriors exposed. Here is the report.

Toronto has shot the lights out to blast the Warriors off their own court and steal back the NBA Finals with a 2-1 series lead.

The Raptors had six players score more than 10 points as they kept Golden State at arms length for almost the entire contest.

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They did it comfortably in the end with a 123-109 win to leave the Warriors’ dynasty on the brink. Toronto is now just two wins away from a first NBA championship.

An off-balance Fred VanVleet three-point dagger killed off the Warriors with 1.39mins remaining as the Raptors led 118-105.

Aussie Andrew Bogut played his biggest Playoffs game since returning to the Warriors earlier this year, putting up six points, seven rebounds and three assists while also proving to be a spark in defence.
Bogut’s nice left hook from the paint in the third quarter gave him a perfect three from three from the field at the time.

The move got ESPN analyst Jeff van Gundy a little too excited, with the American commentator getting mixed up between Sydney and Melbourne for Bogut’s first season back in the NBL.

“That was a flashback to Melbourne, where he was the MVP,” van Gundy said, clearly unaware the Victorian played for the Sydney Kings this season.

Unfortunately, Bogut was forced to the locker room at the end of the third quarter after appearing to suffer an injury. He returned to the game mid-way through the final quarter — but by then the game was all but over.

The Warriors closed to within seven points in the fourth quarter, but Toronto always found the bucket needed to stomp out any hope of a Golden State fightback.

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The home side simply had no answer to the Raptors’ superior shooting. The Raptors hit 17 or 38 from down town, while the Warriors hit 12 of 36. Without Steph Curry’s extraordinary haul of 47 points, the Raptors shot just six of 22 from beyond the arc.

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 30 points, but Pascal Siakam (18 points), Marc Gasol (17), Danny Green (18) and Kyle Lowry (23) all had big moments.

The Warriors are now desperately hoping stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant will be able to return from injuries ahead of Game 4 on Saturday (AEST).

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before the game it would be a game-time decision about injured shooter Klay Thompson, with the major concern being the possibility of the 29-year-old guard doing more damage to the hamstring if he played with the best-of-seven final level at 1-1.

“Our training staff will let us know the risk,” Kerr said before the decision was announced.

“It’s still early in the series, so if there’s risk, then we won’t play him.”

Thompson, a five-time NBA All-Star, had never missed a playoff game in his career, a streak of 120 in a row that ended with him being benched.

The only player with a longer active streak of playoff appearances for his team is Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James at 239.

Thompson was put onto the active roster and warmed up with his teammates before being benched.

Kevin Durant, Golden State’s top playoff scorer with 34.2 points a game, was ruled out of game three on Tuesday.

The 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player has been out for nearly a month with a right calf injury, the Warriors going 6-1 without him.

Kerr said Durant has had good workouts the past two days and he hopes to put him in scrimmage situations on Thursday with an eye to game four on Friday.

“He’s got to continue to improve and not have any setbacks,” Kerr said.

“That’s the main thing.”

Source: news.com.au

For expert service and advice, always call Victoria’s leading experts in Timber Sports Flooring – Construction and Maintenance – Nellakir.

Call 03 9467 6126 or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Nellakir – Sports Flooring for Champions.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Timber Sports Flooring Maintenance starts with Professional Cleaning – by Nellakir

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Genuine Sprung Timber Sports Flooring is like a fine instrument. It must be cared for properly, cleaned professionally to a prescribed program – with the right equipment.

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Nellakir are recognised as the leading experts in the construction and maintenance of Timber Sports Flooring. Now the Nellakir team are adding another very important service for Sports Stadium and Sports Facility Managers. Nellakir now provide a completely professional Cleaning Service for all Sprung Timber Sports Flooring surfaces.

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Cleaned effectively and professionally a Timber Sports Floor provides a premium surface for both professional and amateur competitions. Expert cleaning will ensure the longevity of the court and definitely reduce wear and tear on court surfaces.

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This is especially important in preparation for major events at your sports facilities and equally after the events have occurred. Expert cleaning – with the right equipment – reduces slippery floors, protects floor coatings which reduces wear and tear and ultimately provides both a superior playing surface and a court suitable for a minimum annual maintenance schedule.

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When you consider it, Nellakir construct many of the better known stadium and school sports flooring, they also provide an efficient and effective annual maintenance program – re-coating, re-lining and on cyclical requirement re-sanding and re-surfacing. Why not trust your valuable court’s cleaning regime to the experts in Timber Sports Flooring. Complete the circuit and call Nellakir for:

  • General Floor Cleaning
  • Event Floor Cleaning (pre + post)
  • Pre-maintenance Floor Cleaning

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Call the experts, be confident your sports facility’s timber flooring competition courts are cleaned and maintained at the highest level ensuring always the provision of a premium playing surface. Whether it’s the Harlem Globetrotters, the Boomers or your local Netball juniors, be confident you are providing the very best in Timber Sports Flooring for your patrons.

Call now on 03 9467 6126 or 0417 384 100 to discuss your needs, maintenance and cleaning requirements. Arrange a free on-site consultation to discuss scheduling and pricing.

Always choose Nellakir with Leading Edge Technology.

The Sports Flooring of Champions.

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

Netball and Nellakir – The Perfect Combination

Netball is increasing its public interest exponentially. The National competition has major ‘Free to Air’ coverage and the sport is proving to be the most popular women’s sport after Swimming.

Nellakir are proud to be involved with providing the very best in premium Sports Flooring for the highest levels of Netball competition throughout Victoria.

The Sports advancement in Western Australia demonstrates its meteoric rise in popularity.

From the ABC news today…

Netball fever takes hold in WA amid record sponsorship deal and increasing fan base

It is a frontier year for netball in Western Australia.

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The Fever is dealing with higher expectations after a grand final appearance last year, a permanent move to Perth Arena and a new lucrative sponsorship deal that is worth a record $5 million to WA netball over the next three years.

The sport is now in rarefied air, and it has been a progression built on years of hard work.

As the Fever won its way to a maiden grand final berth it became the main show in town — crowds were big, media attention was high and community interest in the Perth team peaked.

The grand final against Sunshine Coast last year was watched by more than 1 million people across Australia, and the club’s 16 games over the season were streamed by more than 1 million people.

The Fever also did 170 media appearances in the week leading up to the decider.

Netball top team sport for girls

Across the league, more than 6.7 million viewers tuned in to at least part of a match in 2018, with a match average of 140,000 viewers — an increase of 25.9 per cent on the year before.

With those sorts of figures, it is no wonder the Fever has just signed the biggest sponsorship deal in the history of women’s sport in WA.

The game also remains strong at grassroots level.

According to the Australian Sports Commission, netball remained the number one team sport for girls last year despite Australian football, cricket, soccer and rugby all making concerted efforts to increase the number of females playing their respective sports.

Swimming was still the overall favourite, accounting for 33.9 per cent of girls aged 0-14, with netball at 13.3 per cent.

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Dancing, gymnastics, football, basketball, dance sports, athletics, tennis and hockey rounded out the top 10.

A total of 1.2 million people play netball in Australia, and 230,000 of those are in WA.

Nielsen Sports said more than one in five Australians are fans or consumers of netball — and that is something which makes it even more appealing for broadcasters, according to media analyst Steve Allan.

“One of the things about netball is it has a very attractive demographic from a telecaster’s point of view,” he said.

“It is nearly all 14 to 34[-year-old] females. That is a very attractive group.”

‘The sport has moved to new heights’

Netball Australia has formed an independent commission ahead of this year’s Super Netball season, following the framework set out by leagues such as the AFL and NRL, with the aim of being the top sporting league for women globally.

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer said it was another big step in the right direction.

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“I think this is the next iteration of the sport in this country, and certainly under the [Netball Australia] leadership of [CEO] Marne Fechner and [chair] Paolina Hunt, the sport has moved to new heights,” she said.

“We have seen this in other sports — once you move to an independent commission, you get different levels of expertise in this space.”

In an increasingly crowded sporting market, netball is stronger than it has ever been.

Source: abc.net.au

To ensure your Timber Sports Flooring is always presented in premium playing condition, contact Nellakir on 03 9467 6126 and arrange a free consultation on all your maintenance requirements. Nellakir offer a sensible annual maintenance package. The Nellakir team can competently provide re-surfacing, re-lining and where required re-sanding. Call now or leave your details here for a prompt reply

Nellakir – The Sports Flooring for Champions

Andrew Bogut – Back with the Golden State Warriors

In a lot of ways Andrew Bogut was the pioneer for Australian Basketballers in the sport’s premium competition – the NBA. And right now he is returning to his NBA team the reigning champions – The Golden State Warriors – for his first game this season against the Indiana Pacers.

Andrew is another ‘Melbourne Boy’. His parents were Croatian immigrants, migrating here in the 1970s. He grew up playing AFL as well as Basketball. On the way to the NBA he played in the South East Australian Basketball League. As an under 19 he was named the most valuable player in the 2003 FIBA World Cup, the competition having been played in Greece.

Drafted to the Milwaukee Bucks, he was the first Australian ever taken as a Number 1 draft pick. He played with the Bucks from 2005-2012.

He has now played for the Golden State Warriors for a total of 5 seasons.

Probably worth mentioning that Andrew stands 7ft tall in the old imperial measurements, and Andrew – he can certainly play the hoop game!

Here’s the full report on his return:

Bogut set for Warriors return game next week

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Andrew Bogut appears set to make his NBA return to the Golden State Warriors next week against the Indiana Pacers.

There had been hopes the Australian centre might join the reigning champions during their four-game road trip that begins at the Houston Rockets on Wednesday and includes games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs and concludes on Tuesday in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.

But Bogut’s agent David Bauman told the Bay Area News Group that the veteran Australian is targetting his return after the road trip.

Bogut will receive a jubilant welcome from Warriors fans if his first game is at the team’s sold-out Oracle Arena on Thursday week against the Pacers.

The 34-year-old, beloved in the San Francisco Bay Area after he helped the Warriors win a title in 2015 before he was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks the following year, has had his NBA return held up by the process involved in obtaining a US work visa.

Bogut is expected to receive the visa from the US Consulate in Sydney by the end of the week before he flies to California.

The top pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Bogut made the surprise move back to the Warriors after he recently claimed NBL MVP and defensive player of the year honours in his inaugural season with the Sydney Kings.

The Warriors, favourites to win their fourth title in five years, swooped in and signed him to a veteran’s minimum contract on March 6 to bolster their front court for the impending play-off run.

The playoffs begin on April 13.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/bogut-set-for-warriors-return-game-next-week-20190313-p513vd.html

Always play on Professional Sports Flooring – FIFA approved Sprung Timber Sports Floors by ASF/Horner, installed by Nellakir, the experts in the construction and maintenance of all Timber Sports Flooring.

Call now on 94676126 for a no-obligation quote on all Court Maintenance works – relining, resurfacing and when required, a full resanding.

Nellakir –The Sports Flooring of Champions

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Nellakir helps young athletes reach their goals by providing the highest quality Sprung Timber Sports Floor playing surfaces.

LeBron Ices win over Pelicans with a Triple.

It’s hard to keep a champion down. After successive losses, LeBron and the Lakers fire up against the Pelicans. Here’s the full report…

LeBron’s Unreal Triple Ices Win Over Pelicans

Clock running out, defender all over him, fading away on one leg: ideal conditions for LeBron James.

The Lakers were nursing a three-point lead with only 31 seconds left when James stepped back for a ridiculous corner 3-pointer to put the game on ice for a 125-119 win over New Orleans.

“I think he had his hands in the air before it went in,” coach Luke Walton said. “That’s what great players do. That’s an impossible shot and we needed it at that moment. We had kind of stalled out offensively. A big-time shot by one of the all-time greats.”

Having lost four of their previous five games, the Lakers (30-31) needed to get back in the win column to avoid falling further in the Western Conference playoff race.

Unsurprisingly, James was the one leading the way with 33 points and 10 assists. He constantly powered through the Pelicans’ interior defense while also stepping out for four 3-pointers, including his insane trey in the final minute.

But it took more than one player to overcome a spirited effort from New Orleans (27-36), which was led by former Laker Julius Randle (35 points) and L.A. native Jrue Holiday (19 points, 10 assists).

The Lakers trotted out a small-ball starting lineup, replacing 7-footer JaVale McGee with 6-foot-1 Rajon Rondo.

“We needed to win,” Walton said. “Rondo’s won championships. He’s an NBA champion. Let’s get him on the court and see what happens.”

The point guard was instrumental in his team’s attack, handing out a season-high 16 assists while also pitching in 11 points.

A couple of those dimes came during the most explosive part of the night. The Lakers trailed by five midway through the third quarter when Kyle Kuzma (22 points) suddenly erupted.

The 23-year-old threw down three monstrous dunks in a two-minute stretch, while LeBron provided one of his own, sending the crowd into hysterics.

“Those were huge momentum plays for our ball club,” James said, “which the fans loved and we loved it for them.”

The Lakers rode that momentum the rest of the way, though they still needed some clutch moments to pull out the victory. New Orleans cut their lead to just one with 1:38 left, when they turned to their hot hand.

Brandon Ingram — who continued his impressive four-game streak with 23 points — attacked his man off the dribble, getting to the rim and scoring despite a tough finish.

Then LeBron asserted himself on the defensive end, switching onto Holiday and stripping the point guard of the ball. When the Pelicans forced him into a tough shot on the ensuing possession, he turned dire circumstances into an unreal bucket.

“LeBron did what LeBron does,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He makes an almost impossible shot in the corner and that put a lot of pressure on us. That really was the one that decided the game.”

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The NBA conference series are all played out on FIFA approved Sports Flooring. Sprung Timber Flooring engineered to provide the perfect playing surface.

In Australia, the premiere supplier of Timber Sports Flooring is ASF/Horner, and in Victoria this flooring is installed exclusively by Nellakir Pty Ltd. Nellakir are the leading experts in the construction and maintenance of all Sports Flooring.

When you play on the courts at the Victorian State Basketball Centre in Wantirna – it’s a Nellakir court. The Bendigo Stadium? – another by Nellakir. The Eagle Stadium in Werribee, Casey Stadium in Cranbourne and Keilor Stadium? All by Nellakir. If your children play basketball, netball or volleyball at school, chances are it’s on a Nellakir court.

To ensure you maintain a championship surface on your court, always insist on a Nellakir annual maintenance plan. From re-coating, re-surfacing and re-lining to full re-sanding – call Nellakir on 9467 6126 for a free no-obligation consultation, or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Nellakir – Champion floors for future champions.