An almost double-double from Mantas Rubstavicius led the way for NBL24's contingent of Next Stars in Round 11.

18 Dec
By Dan Woods for

Mantas Rubstavicius starred in New Zealand’s Round 11 beatdown of the Cairns Taipans in a victory that has continued the Breakers’ hopes of re-invigorating their season.

Rubstavicius set a new season-high 21 points in his first ever NBL start and came within touching distance of his first double-double in the competition, with eight rebounds.

The sharpshooting wing was locked in from three-point range and connected with two of his three-point attempts, and he hit all nine of his free throws en route to an individual points tally that was only surpassed by teammate Anthony Lamb.

Melbourne head coach Dean Vickerman played Ariel Hukporti alongside fellow center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr in United’s early round clash with South East Melbourne, in what could be an indication of a defensively sound ‘twin towers’ strategy for the remainder of the season.

Hukporti was at his destructive best against the Phoenix and finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks from the bench, without missing a shot.

He also added five points and an incredible five blocks in just over 12 minutes of action against Adelaide, in United’s second game of the round.

Rocco Zikarsky continued his role as Brisbane’s impact big from the bench, and despite playing just seven minutes in Bullets’ heartbreaking one-point loss to local rivals Cairns he proved to be a game-changing presence in his side’s remarkable comeback run through the final term.

A Zikarsky block kickstarted an incredible late-game run by the Bullets, who came from 22 points behind to give themselves a chance of winning the game, before Mitch Norton’s buzzer-beating three came off just a split second too late to count.

Alexandre Sarr was effective in Perth’s one-point win over Tasmania as the Wildcats found themselves back on the winners’ list following last week’s shock loss to Illawarra.

Sarr was one of just two players to register over 10 minutes of court time from the bench as John Rillie elected to run with his starters for the large portion of the game. The French phenom added seven points, two boards and two blocks in the win.

Sydney head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah praised Alex Toohey’s defence following Sydney’s narrow win over the JackJumpers on Sunday.

The Centre of Excellence graduate was part of a unit that restricted a dangerous Tasmania offence to just nine points in the second quarter. He ended the win with six points.

AJ Johnson continued his expanded role under Illawarra interim head coach Justin Tatum and played almost 10 minutes from the bench in the Hawks’ big win over South East Melbourne.

He had two points and two assists in the 28-point win.

Trentyn Flowers continued his run of starts under interim head coach Scott Ninnis for Adelaide, and looks to be sharing primary ball-handling duties with import wing Trey Kell in the 36ers’ starting five.

Adelaide fell to a ladder-leading Melbourne side hot off the back of a big Throwdown win, and Flowers added four points in the 11-point defeat.

Bobi Klintman struggled to capture the magic of his past few weeks for the Taipans in Round 11. He added four points and five rebounds in Cairns’ 29-point loss to Rubstavicius and the Breakers before fouling out in just 13 minutes in the win over the Bullets.

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