VMT MATCH REPORT: JackJumpers Spoil Phoenix 150th party
Aaron Pereira for Phoenix Media
Yet another new look starting five told the story of the Phoenix’s injury woes, in stark contrast to the Jackjumpers whose starters have changed just once in NBL24.
19-year-old development player Austin Rapp - fresh off his viral game winner at the Australian Under 20 Championship - was rewarded with his first career start.
Pre-game, Phoenix boss Mike Kelly threw down the challenge to his only import Abdel Nader to have more of a presence and the NBA veteran didn’t disappoint - 19 points and three assists on the night.
In the first term the hosts shot a remarkable 5-8 from deep, with Rhys Vague, Ben Ayre and Kody Stattmann all contributing from beyond the arc, but still found themselves five points in arrears.
Each of the ten players available hit the court in the opening stanza, though despite the variety the brakes were put on the Phoenix, restricted to just 11 points in the second as the Apple Isle team extended their buffer to 19.
Kelly and his lieutenants tried a myriad of things to kickstart the offence, deploying a big-man setup with Reuben Te Rangi running the point and Anzac Rissetto reaping the benefits with back-to-back buckets on defensive juggernaut Marcus Lee.
Frustrations boiled over when Kelly was handed two technical fouls and an automatic ejection after dialogue with referees, handing the reigns to Sam MacKinnon for the remainder of the contest.
The Phoenix showed fight in the second half with Scott Roth looking to his reserves to round out the game.
Earlier, the Phoenix launched the first-ever PhoenixFest in honour of their 150th game in the NBL.
More than 10,000 fans took part in shooting competitions, a free barbershop, face painting and plenty more on the perfectly picturesque Melbourne afternoon.
The final chance to see the Phoenix comes next week when they take on the Sydney Kings at John Cain Arena. CLICK HERE to secure your seats.
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Te Rangi: 2r/1a