Old heads proving their worth alongside young, up-and-coming talent


Barlow, Gibson, Abercrombie, and Newley sounds like the kind of legal firm that would appear prominently in a Netflix crime series.

Grizzled lawyers, grimly defending their clients with sleight of hand and veteran savvy to snatch victory from the jaws of certain defeat.

Instead, David Barlow, Adam Gibson, Tom Abercrombie, and Brad Newley are all - in their own different ways - proving the worth of extensive NBL experience.

In a league full of exciting American imports, former NBA players, and up-and-coming talent that seems to be getting better by the week, it's the old heads that have helped steady the ship for their respective teams.

Barlow in particular is enjoying a spectacular Indian summer.

It's not necessarily about the numbers - Barlow is averaging 11.8 points (hitting a solid 41 per cent of his three-ball attempts), 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and roughly one block and steal per game - but more about his ability to either make plays or finish them, or both.

After battling injuries, notably some acute Achilles issues, Barlow is moving noticeably more freely after an off-season of work on the efficiency of his movement.

The result is a player who is now comfortable to be more aggressive at both ends of the court, and even on a team as loaded as United, Barlow is at ease in demanding a larger slice of the shot attempt pie.

Such a career resurgence has resulted, unsurprisingly, in a call-up to the Boomers squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Qatar.

Meanwhile, it might have been an unsuccessful weekend for both Abercrombie and Gibson, but both veterans have been crucial cogs for the Breakers and Bullets respectively.

If it feels like Gibson has been around forever, well, he kind of has, racking up 390 games over the course of a career that began way back in 2005.

But the 14-year veteran is enjoying his own quiet renaissance, nailing 47 per cent of his attempts from beyond the arc, which is super impressive, given his career average hovers around 35 per cent.

And while Abercrombie and the Breakers came up short against both United and Sydney in Round 6, it was only last week that the 31-year-old came up big in the clutch against Brisbane.

The 31-year-old has also managed to push his rebound numbers up above his career average, putting in yeoman work on the boards as the Breakers continue to crash and battle against bigger teams.

Finally, there's Newley, who, despite being the second-oldest of this lawyerly quartet, has the least NBL experience, having spent a decade plying his trade in some of the best European leagues.

And while he's looked a step off the pace at times earlier this year, the 33-year-old has wound back the clock over the past few weeks with some eye-catching performances.

Notably, the two-time Olympian dropped a 26-point, six-rebound, four-assist gem on the 36ers in Round 5 to catapult the Kings to a comfortable road win over Adelaide before backing up with 14 points, five boards and three dimes in a vintage support role in Sunday's win over the Breakers.

Father Time will remain undefeated but these four are making him work just a little harder before their illustrious careers draw to a close. There's life in these old dogs yet.


Andrew Bogut (SYD) - In his most complete all-around performance to date, the Sydney Kings pivot destroyed the Breakers at both ends of the court. Bogut compiled a versatile stat line that few players in the league - let alone a centre - could accomplish: 17 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, five blocked shots and two steals, as the Kings maintained their edge over New Zealand in a 100-87 triumph at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday.


G: Casper Ware (MEL) - Averaged 23.5 points and 5.5 assists over the course of the weekend as United defeated New Zealand on the road and overcame a persistent Bullets squad on Sunday.

G: Bryce Cotton (PER) - Helmed the short-handed Wildcats to a fifth straight win as they triumphed over Cairns in a wild overtime contest. Cotton added four rebounds and three assists to his game-high 26 points to ensure the Snakes remained anchored to the bottom of the NBL standings.

F: Daniel Johnson (ADL) - Had been in something of a funk of late but started to turn things around in the 36ers dominant win over Illawarra. Scored 16 points and added nine rebounds but the three blocked shots speaks of his defensive activity, a sure sign things are on the improve after a tough month.

F: DJ Kennedy (MEL) - Had taken a while to find his feet in the league, but United are convinced they've got themselves a rough, uncut diamond. Second only to Bogut for a complete game performance with 14 points, nine boards, seven assists, three steals and two blocks in the 108-101 win over the Breakers.

C: Andrew Bogut (SYD) - See above.


It's the last round before the international break and there's few games worth paying particular attention to. Old foes Perth and New Zealand go head-to-head in a home-and-home series, while United and Sydney renew hostilities on Saturday afternoon at Melbourne Arena.