A first NBL double-double for French phenom Alexandre Sarr led the way for the NBL's Next Stars contingent in Round 19.

12 Feb
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The Perth Wildcats locked up a top-two finish with their Saturday night win over the Cairns Taipans, and Next Star Alex Sarr once again played a starring role from the bench – this time against some of the best young bigs the NBL has to offer.

Sarr earned a nomination for the Round 19 Chemist Warehouse Fans MVP award for his performance, which came against 2023 Summer League Timberwolves representative and reigning Next Generation Award winner Sam Waardenburg, former Summer League participant AK Gak and FIBA Asia Cup representative for New Zealand Sam Mennenga.


The potential number one draft pick ended the game with a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double and three blocks.

The exceptional performance also marked the first double-double of Sarr’s NBL career.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">John Rillie on Sarr: “He’s fortunate to have teammates who truly care about his future.”<br><br>I caught up with an experienced NBA scout recently who spent a few days in Perth watching practices. He said: “I’ve never seen an entire team support and encourage a prospect like they do.” <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Liam Santamaria (@Liam_Santa) <a href="">February 10, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Bobi Klintman made his return to Cairns’ starting lineup in the defeat, and despite struggling to get his shot to fall he played a crucial role in keeping the Taipans in the game until the Wildcats’ fourth-quarter blowout.

Klintman has been made to bide his time before his return to the starting five after recovering from concussion, and he repaid the faith with 11 points and four rebounds. Only Waardenburg and import guard Patrick Miller ended the game with more points than the Swede.

Mantas Rubstavicius played a starring role in New Zealand’s opening night win over Illawarra in Round 19, however he struggled to replicate that performance against the ladder-leading Melbourne in Sunday’s defeat to United.

New Zealand’s victory over Illawarra has helped keep last season’s Championship Series contenders in the hunt for a Finals position, and Rubstavicius showcased the two-way nature of his game by adding 13 points and three steals in the three-point win.

He shot over 50 per cent from the field in the win, and knocked down three of his five three-point attempts on the night against a team that featured former NBA talents Tyler Harvey, Justin Robinson and Gary Clark.

He then fouled out without registering a score in Sunday’s defeat to Melbourne.

Rocco Zikarsky saw extended court-time in Brisbane’s comfortable win over Adelaide last weekend, and battled with the likes of former NBA pair Isaac Humphries and Jacob Wiley down low.

The 10 minutes played by the 17-year-old were the most Zikarsky has played in a game since the Bullets’ Round 14 win over Sydney.

He ended the game with four points and two blocks.

Ariel Hukporti saw limited action in Melbourne’s win over New Zealand, as head coach Dean Vickerman continues to ensure all his players find minutes in the ladder-leaders’ remaining games of the regular season.

Hukporti played 12 minutes in a game which saw 13 players hit the floor for United. He finished the clash with four points, two rebounds and a pair of blocks.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ariel’s comeback season is grabbing NBA interest ? <a href="">@MelbUnited</a> coach Dean Vickerman revealed he’s been in discussions with one NBA team about the 21-year-old <a href="">@NBLNextStars</a> ?<br><br>Read more: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">February 11, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Alex Toohey came off the bench for Sydney’s defeat to Illawarra and registered two points, two rebounds and an assist, in a game where AJ Johnson also came off the bench for the Hawks. Johnson had a pair of assists in the win.

The American Next Star also added two points, a rebound and an assist in Illawarra’s loss to New Zealand.

Trentyn Flowers was absent for Adelaide due to a neck strain.

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