UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- VICTORIA

UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS AND KEVIN COOMBS CUP PREVIEW- VICTORIA

In the lead-up to the Under-18 Championships and Kevin Coombs Cup held in Townsville from April 13-20, we preview the teams from all eight state and territories, continuing with Victoria.

Under-18 Men’s Victoria Metro Team List:

Leyi Adebayo, Matt Debney, Josh Duach, Joshua Giddey, Harry Johnson, Riley Simmons, Zac Taylor, Paul Tsapatolis, Mason Perry, Marcus Windhager.

Bronze medallists at last year’s tournament, Vic Metro advanced to the Semi-Finals with an average winning margin of 58 points before WA Metro halted their run.

They did get the better of Tasmania to finish on the podium but having won four of the past six Championships, Vic Metro will be keen to bounce back in 2019.

Paul Tsapatolis is the only returning player from last year’s team when he averaged 6.9 points and 1.3 steals while finishing third for Vic Metro in rebounds with 6.4 per game.

Vic Metro do have some national talent in the team with Marcus Windhager and Harry Johnson having won a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA Under-15 Oceania Championships.

Windhager was a defensive machine at that tournament, collecting 2.7 steals per game and shooting 51% from the field while Johnson averaged 11.2 points (second most for the team) and hit 13-33 (39%) from beyond the arc.

There are some unknowns in this Vic Metro side though with several players making their Junior Championships debut including Matt Debney and Riley Simmons who are coming off impressive Eltham Dandenong Junior Basketball Tournament’s.

Josh Giddey also starred for St. Kevin’s at last year’s School Championships, doing a bit of everything with 15 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks and that ability to impact both ends of the floor will be key to Vic Metro’s chances this year.

Under-18 Men’s Victoria Country Team List:

Hamish Carey, Dyson Daniels, Christian D’Angelo, Dylan McCauley, Austin McKenzie, Jordan Michel, Charlie Molan, Keith Robinson, Patrick Ryan, William Smythe.

With five players making the leap from last year’s Under-16’s when Vic Country lost in the final to Vic Metro, head coach Lucas Allen is hoping the influx of successful bottom-agers can help propel his side after finishing seventh at the 2018 Under-18’s.

“We are a versatile team with a group of unselfish players,” said Allen.

“The players want to play with each other and everyone contributes in many ways at both ends of the floor.”

Christian D’Angelo should once again play an important role after he averaged 11.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game during last year’s Under-16’s.

Hamish Carey and Charlie Molan also make the leap to Under-18’s having averaged double-figures in scoring last year.

National player Dyson Daniels will bring experience to Vic Country after representing Australia at the Under-15 Oceania Championships.

Daniels put up 8.3 points, 3.7 boards and 2.7 assists per game as he helped Australia to a gold medal which also qualified them for the 2019 Under-16 Asian Championships.

“Every athlete within our group deserves recognition,” said Allen. “We believe that every athlete has the ability to turn heads when they're on.

“Our goal is to focus on the present at all times, control what is right in front of us, play our style and let the outcomes take care of themselves.”

Under-18 Women’s Victoria Metro Team List:

Alannah Chatfield, Charlise Dunn, Keeley Evans, Luisa Fakalata, Leia Hanafin, Gemma Potter, Kayla Salmons, Emily Sewell, Erin Riley, Casey Valenti-Paea.

Reigning champions and winners of nine of the past 12 Championships, Vic Metro return to the 2019 tournament as the team to beat.

Erin Riley and Gemma Potter are the two returning players from last year’s team, with Potter also bringing international experience after winning a bronze medal with the Sapphires at the 2018 Under-17 World Cup.

Potter, a Centre of Excellence athlete, enters the Championships as one of the tournament’s most accomplished players after she also claimed the three-point shooting contest at the recent Basketball Without Borders camp in Charlotte.

“Potter and Riley will play important roles in leading our team to defend our title in Townsville,” said head coach Reece Potter.

“They will also be supported by their 2017 Under-16 championship-winning teammates in Casey Valenti-Paea and Emily Sewell.”

Charlise Dunn and Luisa Fakalata add to the team’s arsenal and further Vic Metro’s national experience after cruising through the Under-15 Oceania Championships with Dunn contributing 17.2 points and five rebounds per game.

“This is a talented group that goes legitimately ten players deep,” said Potter.

“The height, length, shooting and overall skill package of the group in all positions will make this team an exciting group.

“Selection this year was again an extremely tough process with so many talented athletes vying for positions in the final team.”

Rounding out the team, Kayla Salmons, Leia Hanafin, Keeley Evans and Alannah Chatfield bring some new life into the side as they prepare for their first tournament representing the Navy blue of Vic Metro.

“Our team and staff are greatly looking forward to the challenge of representing Vic Metro and attempting to continue the rich history of success that Vic Metro has had in this tournament previously.”

Under-18 Women’s Victoria Country Team List:

Emirson Devenie, Charli Dobson, Piper Dunlop, Victoria Ikenasio, Alisha Knights, Jade Melbourne, Paige Price, Olivia Pollerd, Carly Remmos, Gemma Simon.

Four players make the leap from the Under-16 Vic Country team that fell in last year’s gold medal game, ensuring they are well-placed and determined for a tilt at this year’s Under-18’s Championship.

Alongside Charli Dobson and Gemma Simon, Paige Price is coming off a gold medal for Australia at the Under-15 Oceania Championships where she averaged 11.4 points- a tournament where Piper Dunlop also competed.

Dunlop starred at the Under-16 Championships as well, averaging a monster double-double of 13.1 points (sixth best overall) and 14.4 rebounds (first) per game.

“The Vic Country group consists of very talented athletes that are versatile and have a highly competitive nature,” said head coach Sharon Denham.

“Our team has great flexibility at both ends of the floor which will display an exciting brand of basketball.”

Joining the young contingent is Jade Melbourne, Olivia Pollerd, Alisha Knights and Carly Remmos who were all members of the 2018 Vic Country Under-18 team that won bronze in Geelong.

Melbourne enters the Championships with one of the most impressive resumes after she played an important role in the Sapphires' bronze medal win over Hungary at last year's Under-17 World Championships.

The WNBL development player with the Melbourne Boomers averaged 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists at last year’s Under-18 champs as well.

“Adding the experience and leadership through our recent Australian representatives in Pollerd, Melbourne, Price and Dunlop, we believe our group will play hard and with pride,” said Denham.

Kevin Coombs Cup Victoria Team List:

Mitchell Bond, Jaylen Brown, Campbell Fraser, Bailey Jankovic, Chithic Machar, Isabel Martin, Brian O'Bryan, Teisha Shadwell, Charles Smart.

Victoria were able to snap a streak last year, claiming their first Kevin Coombs Cup gold medal in the competition’s seven-year history.

Five players will return from that successful side including Campbell Fraser, Bailey Jankovic and Isabel Martin with the aim to become the first team to defend their title since 2015.

They need to find some offensive power though without their three leading scorers from 2018 in Jontee Brown, Brian Carminati and James Weinert.

Jaylen Brown showed he can be a force in last year’s gold medal playoff, recording nine points and four assists to defeat WA and he could take a bigger role this year as one of Australia's emerging stars.

Teisha Shadwell is another emerging talent to keep an eye on as she continues to hone her skills in the WNWBL while she was named to her first Gliders team in February on a tour of Japan.