Mt. Gambier Pioneers and the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview each match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Mt. Gambier v Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence
Friday 8th May- 8:00pm @ Bern Bruning Basketball Stadium
The first stop for the Centre of Excellence on a gruelling road trip this round will be Mt. Gambier before they head to Frankston on Saturday night and Kilsyth Sunday afternoon. The Pioneers are still searching for that 2014 Championship form but are as dangerous a side as any at home.
Mt. Gambier fought a thrilling battle against Dandenong last weekend, falling 88-93. Being out-rebounded by 14 is a concern as Tyrone Lee and Damian Johnson’s influence was negated although Erik Burdon (17 points) and Brad Hill (22) picked up the slack on the scoreboard.
They salvaged their road trip with a 105-74 thrashing of Sandringham the following night with Johnson (26 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks), Lee (21 points, 11 boards) and Tom Daly (20 points, five assists) combining for a much improved performance.
One of the in-form teams early in the year was officially knocked down a peg as the CoE handed Albury-Wodonga their third straight loss in Round 4.
A 36-point fourth quarter gave them the 6-point victory with Dejan Vasiljevic (19 points, six rebounds) leading five players in double figures while Harry Froling (18 points, six boards, three assists, one steal) was everywhere.
The CoE are +34 in rebounds over their three matches and will have seen last weekend just how important owning the glass is when facing the Pioneers. Things will be made tougher for the visitors without their most SEABL experienced player in Tanner Krebs (fractured finger) as well as their second best scorer Thomas Wilson (leg injury).
At just 16, Tom Fullarton has shown composure beyond his years during the season to start in the back court for the CoE and will face a big test against the likes of Daly and the veteran Matt Sutton. Mt. Gambier will be favourites at home but the unpredictably of the young CoE side means the Pioneers will not take this match lightly.
Prediction: Mt. Gambier by 6
Saturday 9th May –
Brisbane v Nunawading
Both sides sit at 3-2 but are going in opposite directions with Nunawading winning their past two while Brisbane lost both games in their Round 4 Tasmanian road trip. The Spartans are undefeated at home but will have to contain Shane McDonald and Breland Hogan who combined for 37 points and 17 assists in a comeback win over Ballarat last weekend.
Dandenong v Geelong
The Rangers will be motivated by their victory over last year’s Champions but must consolidate with their first winning streak of the season. The task will not be easy against the East Conference leaders who made a statement against Kilsyth on the back of Nathan Herbert’s 26 points. Eric Gaff, Ash Cannan and Liam McInerney will need to be at the top of their game against Dandenong’s front court of Daequon Montreal, Lucas Walker, Chris Patton and Chuck Long.
N-W Tasmania v Hobart
Hobart have bitten the bullet early, dumping import Cam Bennerman. In four games, the guard averaged 11.5 points at 26% shooting and has been replaced by Sydney King Kevin White. The immediate impact was positive for the Chargers as they recorded their first win against Brisbane. N-W Tasmania are averaging an incredible 25 more points per game than the Chargers though with Fred Hunter (16.2 points) leading six players in double figure averages.
Bendigo v Kilsyth
The Braves were unable to string consecutive wins together last round, falling to Sandringham on the back of a 39-57 second half. Tony Lewis has a double-double in every game and leads the league in rebounding while Grant Johnson (22.3 points per game) provides a worthy contest for Joel Naburgs (16.6). However, in danger of losing top spot in the South Conference, the Cobras will be hard to stop.
Frankston v Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence
The CoE hit Melbourne for the first time this season to face the winless Blues. Shooting 45% against Ballarat, the hosts looked more comfortable offensively but giving up 115 points at the other end shows they are still struggling to find a balance. Brandon Polk is averaging 7.5 rebounds but is the only Frankston player recording more than 5 a game while the visitors have six players averaging that mark.
Ballarat v Canberra
Canberra are quickly gaining a reputation after knocking off the Bandits last week with a 6-1 record over the past two seasons in games decided by 3 points or less. The Miners fell to Nunawading in Round 4 but their offensive display against Frankston was devastating as six players scored 11+ while shooting 63% as a team. Ballarat will be looking for a similar performance as the Gunners are proving a dangerous side when given a chance.
Sunday 10th May –
Kilsyth v Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence
Dropping all three games on their 2014 triple-header, the CoE will want to show the league just how much they’ve improved while Kilsyth will look to wear them down with their athletic roster. With Kyle Adnam (46%), Tim Lang (44%) and Gerard Leonard (40%) all capable from downtown, the Cobras could exploit the CoE as they give up 10 three pointers per game.
Albury-Wodonga v Dandenong
A fitness test on the morning of game day will determine if Donte Nicholas’ Achilles will keep him out of this clash. A week’s break between games will help the Bandits as Dandenong will have played the night before while they will be hoping their unbeaten home record can put an end to their three game losing streak.
Geelong v Frankston
A tough double-header for Frankston will be made even more difficult as Jamie Medved celebrates his 300th SEABL game. With Nathan Herbert and Nick Owusu soon to join him in the 300 SEABL-games club, Geelong’s experience should hold them in good stead against a Blues side that only has Brandon Polk and Matt McInnes as 100+ gamers.
Sandringham v Canberra
The Sabres are one of just two teams winless at home but have faced Kilsyth and Mt. Gambier at Sandringham Stadium. A week’s break will help the home side as Canberra will be coming from Ballarat the night before while the size of Rayshawn Goins and Junior Hairston will provide a true test for Luke Jamieson and Dan Jackson.