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Melbourne United are about to bite the bullet, the Perth Wildcats have been called out, the Tasmania JackJumpers kept firing and the New Zealand Breakers showed great heart all part of the weekend’s NBL action.

It was quite the eventful weekend in Round 4 of the NBL and now after two more losses, Melbourne United appear to have run out of patience with import forward Jordan Caroline.

Pressure continues to build too on the winless Brisbane Bullets while a former league MVP has called out the Perth Wildcats following a big loss to the JackJumpers, who are now on their own four-game winning streak.

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Round 4 got underway back on Thursday night with a full strength South East Melbourne Phoenix hammering the New Zealand Breakers 99-77 before the Cairns Taipans defeated Melbourne United 81-77.

There was just the one game on Friday night but it was a cracker with the Adelaide 36ers answering the hype by knocking off the Sydney Kings 92-88.

The South East Melbourne Phoenix continued the pain on the Brisbane Bullets with the 89-88 win on Saturday night before the Tasmania JackJumpers put a hurting on the Perth Wildcats 103-72.

There were two more games on Sunday with the New Zealand Breakers beating the Cairns Taipans 68-64 despite a horror start and then the Sydney Kings made it 16 straight on the road beating Melbourne United 87-69.

The round will now wrap up on Monday night with two teams desperate for a win clashing in Wollongong, the Illawarra Hawks and Brisbane Bullets.

Sixers cook the Kings in Sydney | 01:33

CHANCES APPEAR OVER FOR UNITED IMPORT

Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman gave import power forward Jordan Caroline every chance this weekend to prove his worth, but after two losses it appears his time in the NBL is over.

You can’t fault the effort and desire of Caroline from his two games this weekend, and you can’t deny Melbourne gave him a chance to prove his worth. It’s now clear he isn’t providing United what they need and they need to make a change.

The first to admit that is coach Vickerman himself. Six games into the season and the United power forward is averaging just 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds a game while shooting at 27 per cent from the field.

What United have needed from him is to be able to play the role left vacant by Jack White who is now in the NBA at the Denver Nuggets, but he just hasn’t been able to do.

It’s not through a lack of desire. The 26-year-old out of the University of Nevada and who started playing professionally in Israel, Taiwan and Italy hasn’t been mobile enough to go with the versatile four men in the NBL, or big enough to match it with the centres when playing that role.

Caroline started in Sunday’s clash against the Sydney Kings and played another 27 minutes, but his output of just seven points and eight rebounds wasn’t enough to save him.

What frustrated his coach the most was that he again shot just 3/11 from the field. He couldn’t help but point out that White would have made those shots, and that had Caroline performed better they might not be 2-4 and on a three-game losing slide right now.

It’s unlikely that Caroline will still be with Melbourne when they take on the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Saturday night.

“I’ve been open that we’re searching for a guy but we haven’t found the right guy yet,” Vickerman said.

“Getting Mason Peatling back is going to be really important, but I still think that in the games we’ve won is when we’ve done well rebounding. We just haven’t been able to compete in those areas or have another threat running at the rim and finishing.

“I thought the shots JC had, if Jack White had every one of those catches where he caught with the takes at the rim he would have been able to finish it. They were kind of 11 good shots and he just hasn’t been able to finish those over the length of people in this league.”

Cairns claim second spot with close win | 00:53

FORMER MVP DECLARES END OF WILDCATS ERA

Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams has a longstanding love-hate relationship with the Perth Wildcats but he was savage in his assessment of his old foes now coached by his former NBL teammate.

One of Williams’ most famous moments of his NBL career came against Perth in the 2008 quarter-final when his Townsville Crocodiles beat the Wildcats at Challenge Stadium.

He starred that night but not as much as his teammate John Rillie who knocked down 10 three-pointers in a spectacular shooting performance while their coach for the Crocs was Trevor Gleeson.

Ever since Williams hasn’t been afraid to express his opinion on the Wildcats and now the 2010 MVP and current commentator came out breathing fire after Perth’s 31-point loss at the hands of the Tasmania JackJumpers on Saturday night.

Not only did Perth allow Tasmania to record its highest ever score and biggest win in the NBL, but what Williams saw was just how far they have come from having the traits that saw them win five championships with Gleeson as their coach.

Now since Gleeson has departed the Wildcats have already seen their playoff streak come to an end, a mass turnover in front office staff and Rillie is already their second coach in two seasons.

This current team in NBL23 is struggling to rebound, is having their troubles defensively as evidenced on Saturday night in Hobart and Williams didn’t miss when giving his opinion on how far they’ve fallen since the departure of Gleeson.

“I called that game and I have never seen Perth Wildcats get destroyed the way they did ever before,” Williams vented.

“I think we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the usual things always happening in the NBL and we take it for granted. We really don’t understand and realise that it’s a new day, Cairns is up the top, Tasmania JackJumpers out-Perth Wildcatted the Wildcats.

“Everything the Wildcats used to be about, is no longer. I’m going to say it, the fortress they had, that was the road trip you lost sleep at night for. Knowing the defence will be so tough I’m not going to be able to get my shit off and we’re going to lose.

“It’s no longer that and we need to come to the realisation that since Trevor Gleeson has left, the Perth Wildcats have gone, it’s over. The dynasty is over. They didn’t make playoffs and they are looking like shit, let’s keep it a buck.”

COACH WANTS RECOGNITION FOR CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER PINDER

Whatever the motivation Keanu Pinder has used since arriving in Cairns ahead of last season, it’s working and his coach Adam Forde wants him to recognised for just how good he has now become.

The growth of Pinder at the Cairns Taipans is one of the NBL’s great success stories and his coach wants to make sure that he’s not missed in terms of getting the recognition he deserves.

Whether it’s the motivation to prove people wrong or to show he deserves the big money some of his opponents might be on, or if he wants to show he deserves an NBA opportunity, whatever is driving him is clearly working.

Pinder’s first season in the NBL at the Adelaide 36ers in 2020/21 didn’t quite go to plan, but he did show enough glimpses as a big man with the ability to impact in so many ways to suggest he had plenty to offer.

That’s where Forde came in. The pair had already formed a relationship from state programs back in Western Australia, and came together at the Taipans last season. Forde got the mix right of wrapping his arms around Forde, pushing him and providing him opportunities.

The result was Pinder delivering 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds a game to be named the Most Improved Player and then go on to star for the Australian Boomers this past off-season.

He has arrived into this NBL season with a world of confidence. The result has been 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds a game to be the only player in the league averaging a double-double.

Not only that, but he has proven he can be a dominant force playing in the centre spot where he’s too nimble for the bigger men but also strong enough to match it with them down low.

What Pinder has delivered so far this season should have him as an MVP contender and without question right now in the All-First Team as the starting centre.

“I think he wanted some of that salary he’s on so getting that released is a good motivator. I think we need to stop talking about the player he was and address the player he is, and he’s All-First Team,” Forde said.

“He’s the best five man in the league. He’s leading the league in rebounds, he’s ninth in scoring before this weekend, he leads bigs in all categories. If we’re being serious and I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but we got him from Adelaide because what he was good at was super efficient.

“All we’ve done is just expand that and given him more opportunities, and put him in an environment where he can blossom and grow without the negativity around him.

“We are providing an environment that plays into his comfort zone with a high degree of competitiveness and energy, and he’s an All-First Team nominee.”

Phoenix win ends Breaker’s winning run | 01:05

LATEST NEXT STAR SENSATION SETTLING AT BREAKERS

Following on from current NBA pair RJ Hampton and Ousmane Dieng as a Next Star at the New Zealand Breakers is a big task, but French 18-year-old Rayan Rupert appears on track to follow in their footsteps.

Recent seasons might have been challenging on a number of fronts for the Breakers but one of the great positives is that they have shown an ideal environment to prepare young guns for the NBA.

It started with Hampton back in the 2019/20 season and he is now settled in at the Orlando Magic. Dieng was taken with the 11th pick in this year’s NBA Draft and now in his rookie season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As a fellow French teenager to Dieng, Rupert has joined New Zealand this season and there’s no question his NBA stocks are rising virtually every time he hits the floor.

Standing 6’7 with an incredible 7’3 wingspan and the tools to play as a guard, he has settled nicely into life in the NBL averaging 6.7 points and 2.5 rebounds on a team now holding a 4-2 record.

It’s not just the numbers though. Rupert has had moments of playing outstanding defence showing his quick hands on perimeter players while also showing he has the ability to compete inside to defend, block shots and rebound.

His outside shooting is also ever improving. That was on display late in Sunday’s game in Cairns against the Taipans. Rupert knocked down a critical three-point shot that gave the Breakers their first lead in the game before they went on to win 68-64.

Rupert arrived at the Breakers expected to be a draft pick somewhere in the 20s or 30s, but his stocks have risen where he is now knocking on the door of the top 10.

He couldn’t be happier with his choice to prepare for the NBA by playing at the Breakers.

“Playing in the NBL is a great experience for a young player like me,” Rupert said.

“I have learned a lot from coach Mody (Maor) and my teammates who have helped me a lot so it’s a great experience for me. I knew it was a process so I just keep working and pushing.

“My teammates and my coaches have helped me a lot, I am working out every day and it’s good for me to be here.”

MUST-WIN MONDAY NIGHT IN THE NBL

You wouldn’t want to be loser of Monday night’s clash between the Illawarra Hawks and Brisbane Bullets to close Round 4 in the NBL.

To say the Hawks and Bullets both desperately need a win coming into Monday’s clash at WIN Entertainment Centre would be one of the great understatements.

Illawarra hasn’t played since a 26-point loss on their home floor to the New Zealand Breakers last Monday night which meant they’ve lost three straight to be struggling at 1-4.

Things are even worse at Brisbane. The Bullets lost again on Saturday night to the South East Melbourne Phoenix despite a largely improved performance, but a loss is a loss and they are now 0-5.

Whether it’s Brisbane slipping to 0-6 or Illawarra 1-5, the implications of a loss for either team means things are getting to desperation stakes in terms of staying in the hunt in NBL23.

The Hawks have been hurt by losing import guard Justin Robinson in the first game of the season and his replacement Peyton Siva won’t be there to play the Bullets.

However, Hawks coach Jacob Jackomas just has to find a way to grind out a win before then hoping to build some momentum once Siva arrives.

“It’s going to be two teams that need a win and it will be what it is,” Jackomas said.

“It’s going to be the team that wants it more at the end of the day and I know that’s a bit of a cliché but everyone’s a little bit dented on both teams.

“It will just be the strongest group that gets over the line because both teams have got a lot of talent.”

Brisbane put in a better showing on Saturday night and did plenty right, but just couldn’t close out the game against the Phoenix to remain winless in NBL23.

With a team led by Aron Baynes and Nathan Sobey, and consisting of Tyler Johnson, Jason Cadee, Devondrick Walker, Harry Froling, Tanner Krebs and Ty Harrison, there’s no shortage of talent.

The Bullets just need to find that first win and will regain young forward DJ Mitchell following his club-imposed suspension with coach James Duncan trying to remain positive.

“We are only human beings, right, so of course it’s sitting on all our shoulders and right now it’s tough, and the players are trying to focus in on what’s in front of them,” Duncan said.

“The reality is we’re 0-5 so the biggest thing for us is continuing to stick together and focusing in on what the game plan is.

“It’s tough to say we did some good things when you still lose, but we couldn’t get over the hump especially when we have certain breakdowns throughout the course of the game. And when you’re trying to get that first win, they became really big.”

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