• Register

The Sureway Wollongong Roller Hawks have maintained their spot at the top of the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) ladder with two big wins during Round 2 at Castle Hill.


The Roller Hawks were too strong for the Australian Spinners on Saturday winning 98-46 before backing it up on Sunday with a 82-64 win over the Sydney Metro Blue Hornets.

Knowles Back

The round marked the return of Roller Hawks junior Tristan Knowles who was able to make the trip thanks to a last minute relaxation of COVID lockdown restrictions in Victoria.


Knowles didn’t take long to make an impact, coming into Saturday’s game off the bench and scoring in his first possession. 


Knowles finished with 24 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds while captain Brett Stibners had a season high 41 points on 78% shooting. Shawn Russell rounded out the club’s new look three high pointer combination with 18 points and 11 rebounds.


“Although it’s been ten years since I’ve been in a Roller Hawks jersey it felt like it was only last week,” said Knowles. 


“There’s probably a couple of things I need to iron out, some finer things with some rotations and some sets but it felt really good.”


“The last two years I’ve been used to training by myself or with a couple of other people. I haven’t had 9 other chairs in a pretty close confinement so there’s that to get used to and just the sets, where to start, the timing of when to go and when to stay. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of that pretty quick.”


Captain Brett Stibners, happy to have his Australian teammate back. 


“It’s fantastic because it’s another option. When we kick it around, we always get a good shot,” said Stibners.


The Roller Hawks had a tougher assignment on their hands on Sunday against hosts the Sydney Metro Blue Hornets who had won two of their three games across the weekend.


The two sides were neck and neck throughout the first half before the Roller Hawks adjusted their defence to restrict the Blue Hornets to just 10 points in the third quarter and put the game beyond reach.


Tristan Knowles was again the stand out with 30 points including 3 from 6 from three point range and Brett Stibners fell one assist short of a triple double with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists.


“Once we got into a rhythm with our shooting and once we moved the ball around a bit even though they weren’t moving we got some good shots up and we were more consistent in making shots,” said Stibners.


“It will take them a bit of time as well to get used to each other with the Victorian boys coming up.”


While the Roller Hawks remain undefeated at the top of the ladder, the battles between the Queensland Spinning Bullets, Perth Wheelcats and the Blue Hornets kept fans on edge throughout the weekend.


On Friday night, Sydney beat Queensland. On Saturday, Perth beat Sydney and then Queensland beat Perth. On Sunday Queensland scored another win over Perth with all four games having a final margin of no more than 5 points.


“We’re a little bit ahead right now but once Brisbane and Perth get their players back, they’re going to become level very quickly,” said Stibners.


The Australian U23s showed they would continue to push their more experienced counterparts, staying with Perth on Friday night and giving the Roller Hawks a good push in their battle on Saturday.


The turnaround to the next round is a short one with Round 3 to play out from 18th-20th June in Perth.