• The NBL Cup tips off on Saturday February 20 (Getty Images )Source: Getty Images
History will be made on Saturday when the first ever NBL Cup tips-off in Melbourne. Each of the nine NBL teams will play each other once and you can watch every single match on SBS on Demand, with select games on SBS VICELAND.
By
Nick Stoll

Source:
SBS Sport
19 Feb 2021 - 5:00 PM  UPDATED 19 Feb 2021 - 5:00 PM

WATCH the NBL Cup LIVE, FREE and in HD via SBS On Demand, with select games also live on SBS VICELAND.

Here are nine players to watch out, one per team, in what is sure to be a thrilling contest.

Is the NBL Cup Melbourne United’s to lose?
Jock Landale’s bold prediction that Melbourne United could go undefeated this season may come back to bite them when the NBL Cup gets underway on Saturday.

How to watch NBL LIVE on SBS
The 2020-21 NBL season commences on January 15, with a revised schedule due to COVID-19 meaning that Adelaide 36ers v Melbourne United will open the league's 43rd campaign.

ADELAIDE 36ers: Josh Giddey

Daniel Johnson and Isaac Humphries might be Adelaide’s most prolific scorers, but it is 18-year-old Josh Giddey that is the one to watch.

The 6-foot, 8-inch point guard is likely to be drafted into the NBA next season, and an impressive performance in the NBL Cup could see him rocket up those pre-draft rankings. 

So far he is leading his side in assists per game (5.75) and contributing a handy 6.25 rebounds per game and 9.25 points per game. 

Giddey could very well be Australian basketball’s next superstar. 

BRISBANE BULLETS: Nathan Sobey 

Nathan Sobey is a scoring machine this season. He leads the league in points per game with 24.29. 

The now 30-year-old was voted the NBL's most improved player in 2017, but this season he’s a verified superstar, lighting up the league with some incredible plays.  

Can he continue that form in the Melbourne hub? Brisbane fans will be hoping so and the neutrals will love seeing him try. 

CAIRNS TAIPANS: Scott Machado  

It’s been a rough start to the season for Cairns, with just two wins from their first eight matches. 

But if they’re to find some form in the NBL Cup then it will likely be Scott Machado leading them there. 

The Brazilian-American point guard has the ability to light up any match and leads the league with 9.88 assists per game and is also scoring 17 points per game. 

Just over a week ago, Machado was the first NBL player to have 13 assists in consecutive games since 2005. 

 

ILLAWARRA HAWKS: Justinian Jessup

22-year-old Justinian Jessup has already been drafted to the NBA by the Golden State Warriors in 2020 but, prior to that, he agreed to be part of a next stars contract with Illawarra. 

Whether he’ll go on to have a successful NBA career remains to be seen, but one thing for certain is: the kid can shoot! 

Averaging 14.71 points a game on 47% shooting from the field, he even has former Warriors champion and Australian basketball legend Andrew Bogut impressed.

The youngster doesn’t always find his rhythm every match, but when he does it can be extremely difficult to stop as Cairns Taipans found out twice in January when he dropped 24 and 19 points respectively on them. 

MELBOURNE UNITED: Jock Landale

Melbourne United are unbeatable this season, with six wins from six matches in NBL21. 

Landale had something to prove this season after missing out on an NBA contract last year. 

With 15 points and 7 rebounds a game, the 25-year-old is already proving his worth and is the ‘MVP frontrunner’, according to ESPN’s Olgun Uluc

And Landale is keen to impress in the NBL cup as he knows a lot of NBA scouts will be watching. 

“I think the Cup will be the best that the NBL has ever been from the standpoint that we’ve got a bunch of NBA-ready guys here now,” Landale told News Corp’s Matt Logue.

“In my mind, we have a lot of players that could slot into an NBA roster.

“It will attract more eyes having us all in Melbourne and playing so many games in succession because no one will want to miss a beat.

“Scouts are watching leagues all around the world, but putting together a Cup-style tournament is massive because it will just mean the scouts will lock in on the four weeks to watch all the games.” 

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS: Tai Webster

It’s been a rough start to the season for the Breakers who - due to COVID-19 - have had to play all their fixtures away from home so far. 

Bottom of the table with just one win in five, although they have three games in hand on the 2-6 Taipans, there hasn’t been too much to get excited about for New Zealand fans. 

Tai Webster’s form has been something of a silver lining. Averaging 20 points a game, along with 5.4 assists and 6.6 rebounds, the 25-year-old can be tough to stop. 

Being in one city for the next eight games might really help the Breakers and Webster will be key to any revival. 

PERTH WILDCATS: Bryce Cotton

Could this be the year that Perth finally miss out on the NBL finals? Not if Bryce Cotton has anything to do with it. 

Still one of, if not the, most exciting players in the league, the two-time NBL MVP is a must-watch player. 

Second in the league for points per game, equal-second in the league for assists per game - stopping Cotton is one of the hardest assignments in the league. 

 

 

Perth might be struggling this year, but Cotton is still a match-winner on his own. 

SOUTH-EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX: Keifer Sykes 

The 27-year-old point guard from Chicago might be one of the shortest players in the league, but he can fly!

Sykes was the focus of an incredible documentary called Chi-Town that was released in 2019. 

Sykes has played around the world, including in Greece, Korea, China, and the US, and will now get home-court advantage for eight straight games in Melbourne. 

An impressive 18 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds a game have helped the Phoenix to fourth position on the table. 

Sykes is definitely one to watch this tournament. 

SYDNEY KINGS: Casper Ware 

Casper Ware is no stranger to Melbourne, having played there for three years with Melbourne United. 

Now with Sydney, Casper will look to show he feels right at home in the hub. 

The 31-year-old had some issues at the end of last season and the start of this season, especially when it came to shooting from three, but he’s proven to be the Kings' match-winner on multiple occasions this season. 

27 points against the 36ers on February 6 showed that if the Kings need a bucket, Casper is their man.