N-W Tasmania Thunder and Bendigo Braves go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview every match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – N-W Tasmania v Bendigo
Saturday 18th July- 7:30pm @ Ulverstone Schweppes Arena
With second spot on the line in the South Conference, N-W Tasmania Thunder and Bendigo Braves will face off for the second time in as many rounds.
The Thunder overcame Bendigo by ten points last weekend on the back of a 40-27 second half but was unable to defeat Dandenong the following day to properly gain some breathing room on the ladder.
The Braves also had a 1-1 weekend, following their Friday night loss with a seven-point win over Geelong after trailing by seven at half-time.
Tony Lewis was massive across their two games, averaging 18.5 points and 15 rebounds but N-W Tasmania’s Garrett Jackson held his own in their battle with 24 points, eight boards and three assists.
Grant Johnson, Bendigo’s second best scorer, was held to 3-17 shooting and eight points while his opposing shooting guard, Mason Bragg, got to the free throw line for 10-11 shooting on his way to 18 points.
Should these sides finish on the same win-loss record at the end of the year, the Braves must be wary of the ten point deficit they suffered last round. Bendigo own the second best road record in the league at 5-3 but will coming up against a Thunder side that is 6-2 at home with an average winning margin of 14 points.
Prediction: N-W Tasmania by 4
Friday 17th July –
Mt. Gambier v Sandringham
Nothing needs to be said about Mt. Gambier at this point of the season; their numbers speak for themselves. On a 13-game winning streak, they own an 8-1 home record and are unbeaten against conference rivals. Sandringham have dropped five straight after giving up 12 three-pointers to Canberra last weekend and must also overcome their Round 4 29-point defeat to the Pioneers.
Frankston v Albury-Wodonga
The Bandits missed an opportunity to take first place in the East Conference last round with a 10-point loss to Nunawading- their first defeat at home this season. Their 3-6 road record is a concern as another loss could drop them to the fringe of the top four. Frankston were unable to overcome an 8-22 opening term against Hobart but with four players reaching double figures, their range of scoring options gives them hope this weekend.
Hobart v Bendigo
Sandringham is the only side to sweep the Tasmanian road trip this year but a successful round for Bendigo would see them almost secure a finals place. Hobart, meanwhile, sit just a game outside the top four after splitting Round 13 with a solid win over Frankston and a slim loss to Nunawading. Tony Lewis is the main obstacle standing in the home side’s way, with Shane Harris-Tunks’ size a possible advantage for the Chargers’ front court.
Saturday 18th July –
Brisbane v Geelong
Top plays bottom in the East Conference but Brisbane will take confidence from their Round 7 meeting when they pushed the Supercats into overtime. Geelong did win that clash thanks to 24 points from Jack Duck and Nathan Herbert but a loss to Bendigo last round while scoring just 69 points was a disappointing performance from a Championship contender. A seven game losing streak and a 0-10 road record are bigger hurdles for the Spartans to overcome though.
Sandringham v Frankston
This weekend could be the last roll of the dice for Sandringham as they must at least split the round to stay in contention in the East Conference. Frankston were comfortable 13-point winners when they met less than a month ago as Eric Williams’ 26 points countered double-doubles from Junior Hairston and Rayshawn Goins. Mitch Chapman gets a second crack at his old club and will be looking to help the Sabres over the line after scoring just a point in that Round 11 meeting.
Canberra v Ballarat
Finals could be on the line for both sides as Ballarat sit fifth and two games outside the top four while Canberra are hanging on with two straight wins pulling them within three games. The Miners have dropped three of their past four but were eight-point victors over the Gunners in Round 5 when Roy Booker hit 9-14 from the three point line for 35 points. Canberra will have a real chance if they can hold him under 20 points as the visitors are 1-5 when their point guard does not reach that mark.
Nunawading v Dandenong
Third place in the East Conference will be put on the line when these teams clash. They both have won three of their past four with Nunawading’s two victories over Albury-Wodonga and Hobart last round proving they can be a force even without Simon Conn while Dandenong were defiant against N-W Tasmania. The front court battle that will pit Delwan Graham and Adam Ballinger against Daequon Montreal and Lucas Walker should determine the outcome.
Albury-Wodonga v Kilsyth
A light schedule recently has seen Kilsyth play just three matches in 20 days while Albury-Wodonga will travel across from Frankston the night before. In a Round 11 meeting, Auryn MacMillan had 16 points and 14 rebounds while Kyle Adnam added 24 points but he was unable to slow down Deba George (30). The Cobras will have to grit their teeth to reverse the result this weekend with a win keeping them in the South Conference top four.