Albury-Wodonga Bandits and Nunawading Spectres go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview every match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Albury-Wodonga v Nunawading
Friday 10th July- 8:30pm @ Lauren Jackson Sports Centre
Although this is a battle of second vs. fourth in the East Conference, both the Albury-Wodonga Bandits and Nunawading Spectres are struggling for form at the moment, with two wins from their past four games.
Leading by just one point against Brisbane last weekend, the Bandits used a 25-15 final term to win. Cory Dixon collected 22 points and eight rebounds while Donte Nicholas was outstanding with 25 points, 11 boards, two assists and eight steals.
The win keeps Albury-Wodonga in second place, just a game behind Geelong in first but only a game ahead of third-placed Dandenong.
Nunawading continue to adjust to the absence of Simon Conn, losing to Frankston 82-85 last week after leading at three-quarter time. Conn’s replacement, Adam Ballinger, had a team-high 17 points alongside Jesse Caspersz while Breland Hogan hit three three-pointers for 16 points.
When they met in Round 2, the Spectres fell by five but played without Conn or Shane McDonald. Deba George’s point guard battle with McDonald is always an exciting prospect while Dixon and Nicholas will look to keep Ballinger and Delwan Graham off the boards.
With top spot in the East Conference possibly on offer, Albury-Wodonga will have a great incentive while the head-to-head results will also be on both team’s minds. Nunawading has been solid on the road this season at 5-5 but the Bandits should be able to keep their unbeaten home stand in tact.
Prediction: Albury-Wodonga by 6
Friday 10th July –
Canberra v Sandringham
Back on the winners list after a narrow defeat of Brisbane last weekend, Canberra will also be buoyed by their overtime victory against Sandringham from Round 5. In that clash, Ben Allen (19 points, 16 rebounds) battled under the rim with Junior Hairston (26 and 15) while Nnaebuka Anyaorah (22 points) had a shoot-out with Alister MacDonald (19 points). Four straight losses is a concern for the Sabres but their 5-4 road record is better than the Gunners’ 3-5 home record.
Bendigo v N-W Tasmania
From 4-5, Bendigo have jumped to 8-6 and now sit second in the South Conference, a game ahead of third placed N-W Tasmania. They won a hard-fought clash against Sandringham last week while the Thunder overcame a defensive battle in Hobart before falling to Geelong two days later. In terms of the head-to-head results for playoff position, these team’s two clashes in the next two rounds will be vital.
Mt. Gambier v Brisbane
Mt. Gambier always plays in front a raucous home crowd but with the “Pioneers in Pink” game raising awareness for breast cancer this weekend, the stadium will be rocking even more than usual. On a five-game losing streak, Brisbane will need to muster something a little extra than they could in Round 6 when they fell by just five points. Four Pioneers players scored 15+ in that game.
Frankston v Hobart
Behind a double-double from Brandon Polk (14 points, 12 rebounds), Frankston defeated Nunawading last round to string together their first win streak of the season. Hobart sit fifth in the South Conference but could enter the top four if they find some consistency, having gone WLWLW in their past five games. Averaging 8.8 three-point attempts per game, the Blues’ chances could rest on connecting on those shots as the Chargers allow a league-low 28% from beyond the arc.
Saturday 11th July –
Dandenong v N-W Tasmania
Although they lost last weekend, Dandenong forced Mt. Gambier to overtime behind 32 points and ten rebounds from Daequon Montreal. They will need to be at the top of their game again this round as they fell to the Thunder by 16 points in Round 6 when N-W Tasmania had six players score in double figures. However, on the second night of double-headers, the Thunder are 1-4 while their road record is just 3-5.
Nunawading v Hobart
Although both sides will be on the second night of a back-to-back, Nunawading’s three extra hours of travel time will be a hindrance. With a combined 460+ games experience, expect a high quality battle between McDonald and Tiri Masunda. When they met in Round 6, the Chargers were seven-point victors as they held the Spectres to 35% shooting compared to their season average of 45%.
Kilsyth v Brisbane
Kyle Adnam was the hero last round, banking in a three-pointer on the buzzer to beat Sandringham. The ecstasy felt from that moment was short-lived though, once news came through that Joel Naburgs’ season has been cut short by injury. Having not played in a week, the Cobras should have an advantage against the Spartans who are winless on the road in 2015.
Geelong v Bendigo
Following their slow start to the year, Bendigo is 3-4 against fellow current finalists but a win on the road in Geelong would certainly announce their arrival as a Championship contender. The stakes are also high for the Supercats as a 1-1 record for the round would not be enough to retain top spot in the East due to their head-to-head results with Albury-Wodonga.