The Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence Mens and Womens team began Round Four of NBL1 action on Anzac Day with a home doubleheader against the Geelong Supercats.
The two teams attended the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in the morning, as did their opposition in Geelong.
“The Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a very moving event and it was good to share that as a group” shared Centre of Excellence (CoE) men’s coach Adam Caporn.
“We had some discussions about how fortunate and grateful we are to have the freedom and opportunities that we have. We have an impressive group of young men here at the moment, and they involved themselves in understanding why Anzac Day is so important and how they could demonstrate their appreciation.”
With only two home games at the Australian Institute of Sport this year, the double-header against Geelong was an important date in the calendar for both teams.
The women’s game tipped off at 2pm, against a group of CoE graduates who are now playing with the Supercats, namely Sara Blicavs, Ezi Magbegor, Jazmin Shelly, Isabelle Bourne and Zitina Aokuso.
The Supercats jumped the CoE out of the gates, leading 31-3 at the end of the first quarter. With the CoE managing just one field goal in the first period, they responded in the second quarter by scoring 20 points to restore a sense of control in the contest.
However, with Geelong continuing to build on their lead in the second half, 19 points from Blicavs and 17 points from Aokuso helped lead Geelong to a 48-point victory.
“The team improved throughout the weekend but struggled for consistency early on, due in part to having just returned from school holidays and half the group competing for their respective states at the U/18 Australian Junior Championships in Townsville” explained CoE women’s assistant coach Matthew Paton.
The men’s game followed at 4pm, and in contrast to the previous game, the men got out to a quick start, with Hunter Goodrick hitting three triples on his way to eleven first-quarter points, seeing the CoE take an early 27-21 lead.
The CoE continued to build on their lead into the second period, with the CoE at one point leading by 20 points with 1:45 remaining in the first half. However, a 26-9 third period from the Supercats quickly swung the momentum back in favour of the visitors.
The CoE would continue to battle, but they would eventually fall by just one point, in a 73-72 loss. Alex Ducas and Hunter Goodrick led the CoE in scoring with 19 apiece, combining to shoot 7-11 from beyond the arc.
Next, the CoE would travel to Albury-Wodonga for a Saturday night match-up against the Bandits, with the women this time falling 83-65 in a much-improved effort.
Lily Scanlon was once again impressive for the CoE, leading the scoring with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“Across the course of the two games, Lily Scanlon was a consistently strong performer” stated Matthew Paton.
“Not only was she amongst the top scorers in each game, but she also led the team in rebounds on Saturday against Albury, which is no mean feat for a 172cm point guard.”
With the men coming off a one-point loss to Geelong two days earlier, they prevailed 94-89 at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
Alex Ducas led the way once again for the CoE, dropping a team-high 26 points on 10-17 shooting.
“Alex Ducas and Hunter Goodrick were our most consistent performers over the two games and have really been outstanding all season” shared Adam Caporn.
“Both are in the finals weeks of their time here at the CoE, and it is very pleasing to see how much they have improved and the level they have reached so far.
“They have performed at an elite level as COE/AIS players in SEABL/NBL1 over the years and both have a chance to have exciting professional careers and hopefully become Boomers.”
While coach Caporn was pleased with the Saturday night victory, there was still a feeling of more work to be done.
“We had some really good moments and stretches of play over the weekend, but ultimately were too inconsistent” shared Caporn.
“We need to improve our commitment to the details and continue getting better as decision makers.
“I was really pleased with our response and adjustments in the Albury game after a disappointing second half against Geelong.”
The CoE teams will now have a week off in round five due to national team camps, with the two teams re-commencing in round six against Knox and Waverley.