Ballarat Miners 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 – Ballarat v Nunawading
Saturday 8th August- 8:00pm @ Mars Minerdome
On the back of three straight wins, the fifth placed Ballarat Miners have stormed into playoff contention while the Nunawading Spectres are clinging onto fourth spot with just one win from their past three games.
The Miners took care of the CoE last round before defeating Dandenong by 17 points the following day, staking their claim as a potential finalist.
Roy Booker leads the league in scoring and proved his offensive capabilities once again with 34.5 points and 5.5 assists across the weekend while shooting 11-26 from the three-point line.
The back court of Shane McDonald and Breland Hogan will have the job of containing Booker but Hogan’s seven points in their loss to N-W Tasmania last weekend was the fourth time in the past five games that he has not reached double-figures.
Simon Conn and Adam Ballinger combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds and seem to be gelling well. They should provide a quality contest in the front court against Liam Gibcus and Gregory Thondique who has four double-doubles since arriving mid-season.
A three-point victory in Round 4 to the Spectres could play a part in the head-to-head classification as just a win separates the teams on the ladder. Booker looms as the game-changer as nobody in the league can stop him if he finds his three-point stroke but the experienced front-court of Nunawading is a concern for the Miners.
Prediction: Nunawading by 2
Friday 7th August –
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Dandenong
Against a desperate Ballarat side last weekend, Dandenong was never truly in the contest but they do not play a current finalist for the rest of the regular season which keeps them in touch of second place in the East. The CoE were out-matched against Ballarat and Geelong but Jack White (18.5 points, ten rebounds over the weekend) could prove a problem for the Rangers while Tom Fullarton (18 points against the Supercats) is a star of the future.
Mt. Gambier v Geelong
A victory over the CoE was enough for Geelong to maintain second place but they have not strung consecutive wins together in a month and they fell to the Pioneers by 21 points in Round 10 when four of their players scored 15+. The Supercats still have a lot to play for but with top spot in the South sewn up weeks ago, Mt. Gambier can afford to look ahead to the first week of the finals.
Hobart v Kilsyth
All three teams vying for the final playoff spot in the South Conference lost last weekend but Hobart’s Friday night win over Sandringham has most likely narrowed the race to these two teams. Kilsyth were 22-point victors in Round 3, giving them a big advantage in the head-to-head classification but three straight losses and a 3-6 road record will give the Chargers confidence.
Saturday 8th July –
Brisbane v Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence
The Spartans were once again impressive at home last weekend, reaching the century mark against Canberra and winning a second straight game. All ten players scored and their depth will be a concern for the visitors who had just seven players hit the court last round, three of which were 16-year olds.
Canberra v Dandenong
Canberra defeated the Rangers by two points in Round 2 but they will need to be at the top of their game to cause an upset as Dandenong continue to fight for position. The Gunners have given up 100+ points in consecutive matches and allowed oppositions to shoot 54% from the three-point line, giving the green light to the likes of Lucas Walker (41% on the season) and Andrew Harms (39%).
N-W Tasmania v Kilsyth
Kilsyth’s fate is entirely in their own hands on the Tasmanian road trip and they again should own the head-to-head advantage after smashing the Thunder by 25 in Round 7. The home’s side 62-point total was their equal-lowest of the season as they went 0-12 from beyond the arc but a repeat performance is unlikely as they average six makes per game.
Frankston v Bendigo
Back-to-back wins against Kilsyth and Hobart last round has set up Bendigo for the double-chance as they lead N-W Tasmania in second place by a game with an extra game in hand. They were too good for Frankston in Round 10, winning by 18 while grabbing 15 more rebounds but Brandon Polk missed that clash and his battle with Tony Lewis is always worth watching.
Albury-Wodonga v Sandringham
Extending their win streak to five last weekend, Albury-Wodonga can ensure at least a top two finish in the East with a win here while top spot could also be attained if other results go their way. The Sabres will be desperate as they need to be perfect in the final two rounds to sneak into the South top four but the Bandits have the second best home record in the league (9-1) with an average winning margin of 14 points.
Sunday 9th July –
Bendigo v Geelong
Anything less than a sweep of the round will end Geelong’s chances of finishing first in the East Conference but the interstate travel time from Mt. Gambier will not make things easy. The Braves defeated the visitors by seven in Round 13 when Grant Johnson (24 points) and Tony Lewis (16 and 17 rebounds) starred and they are also 4-1 with a 12-point average winning margin in their past five home games.