NBL Blitz Week 1 Imports shines, JackJumpers promises to be fun


The first weekend of the NBL Blitz 2021-22 is on the books and it was good to have hoops back in Australia.

It was a low-key opening in Melbourne with a pair of double-headers taking place behind closed doors at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Center, but it was a different scene in Tasmania, with the JackJumpers making their first NBL appearance in front of a Tasmanian faithful who I am told he is desperate for the season to begin.

With eight games completed, here are some thoughts as the road to opening night begins.

Zhou Qi’s skill level is off the charts

In chatting with players and coaches from South East Melbourne on Media Day last Thursday, two things consistently came out when I asked about Zhou Qi.

One was his humor, which intrigued me very much, and the second part is his absolutely insane skill level.

Sure, the 216cm Zhou will offer an intimidating presence in defensive paint and perform on glass, but it’s the ability to channel offense through the big man that can impress the most.

Still getting used to the South East Melbourne system after being released from hotel quarantine in recent weeks, Zhou has shown his guns as the Roller Man in the overtime loss to Illawarra Monday evening.

During a play in the second quarter, Kyle Adnam lobbed a pass to Zhou who was greeted by three Illawarra bodies in the lane. Rather than catching the ball, he simply returned a precise pass through the high corner to the open shooter in a smooth motion.

He made the game laughably easy and with shooters in the Phoenix lineup, opposing teams are going to have a tough decision to make when the big guy rolls into the basket.

Bayles is a competitor

Without Jaylen Adams or RJ Hunter in the lineup for Sydney, Biwali Bayles found a significant opportunity in the Blitz to impress.

Against Melbourne United on Tuesday night, he found himself facing Matthew Dellavedova. As Delly does, he put all the pressure on the pitch in the first half, with Bayles seemingly inviting physical play.

Word from Sydney is that they love the competitiveness of the 19-year-old, who has no problem mixing grunt work with the flare.

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Bayles finished the night with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in 21 eye-catching minutes.

XRM exactly what the Hawks need

Justinian Jessup’s 27-point blast on a 9v12 shot obviously stands out on the box score, but it’s a rookie from Illawarra who can unlock the elite outside threat more consistently.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes joins the Hawks for NBL 22, with the Canadiens’ ball handling ability that will compliment Tyler Harvey in the backcourt. Speaking to ESPN, Jessup admits his ability to find space on offense became difficult in the second half of his rookie season.

“I think as the year went on and the teams got a bit more depth into the scout report it started to get a bit more crowded,” Jessup said.

“They knew what we were going to do. As a player you have to understand this stuff. I think it’s something I can improve without getting discouraged.”

It looks like the addition of Rathan-Mayes in combination with an additional big man threat like Duop Reath could help unlock one of the best shooters in the league even more.

The JackJumpers are going to be FUN

As South East Melbourne discovered in its debut season, finding consistency on both ends of the pitch can be a challenge with an entirely new roster, coaching staff and, of course, organization.

With that in mind, it’s hard to predict how competitive the JackJumpers will be, but after two Blitz games, I think we can safely confirm that this will be a fun team to watch.

It starts with point guard Josh Magette, with the American pushing the tempo at every opportunity with compatriot Josh Adams able to throw those types of dunks, it’s easy to see why.

Much to the delight of locals, the JackJumpers recorded their first NBL victory over Adelaide on Tuesday night, beating the Cairns Taipans 81-66.

The big question with United

The defending champions arrive in NBL 22 with a roster with plenty of unknowns.

What level of play can Matthew Dellavedova reach?

How to replace Jock Landale?

Are there enough goals and playmakers with the losses of Mitch McCarron and Scotty Hopson?

Jo Lual-Acuil will certainly try to fill part of the scoring void. Last year’s best sixth man is hardly shy about getting his shots and he took full advantage of an exhausted New Zealand Breakers big man division in the Blitz opener.

Finishing with a ridiculous 37 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes, Lual-Acuil intimidated anyone who dared to keep him.

Two nights later, the big man posted 13 points and seven rebounds in an exciting battle against Xavier Cooks and Jarell Martin of the Sydney Kings.

Lual-Acuil can score in a variety of ways at the post, can play on contact and has the length to shoot most defensemen in the league with fluid touch for a player his size.

Is he ready to be a problem every night?

Bryce is back

Perth made their Blitz debut on Tuesday night, losing a lousy game to the Adelaide 36ers, 63-56.

The result didn’t matter though, with Bryce Cotton making his long-awaited return to the floor after missing the Wildcats’ race to the Grand Final with a serious thigh injury.

Cotton finished with seven points in 25 minutes, but he’s back, and that’s all that matters.


The Blitz is back for a second week with matches kicking off Thursday night.

New Zealand and Sydney will start things off, with star imports goaltender Jaylen Adams in line to make his Kings debut.

The Brisbane Bullets meet the Perth Wildcats on Friday night, with word from Brisbane suggesting that Lamar Patterson is in for a big year after choosing to stay in Australia during the offseason.

“He let himself down last year and he will admit it,” Bullets goalie Jason Cadee told ESPN.

“It’s gone now, the LP that I saw that stayed in Brisbane, was not signed but chose to stay, who we worked with throughout the offseason … I will just say that LP is back. It’s for Sure. “

Sign me up for it.

Additionally, Brian Goorjian will meet bronze-medalist Baby Boomers, when Dellavedova and Chris Goulding lead United against the Hawks on Saturday night.

Bring another weekend of hoops as we all get ready for the first round.


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