Nunawading Spectres and Geelong Supercats go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview every match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Nunawading v Geelong
Sunday 17th May- 2:30pm @ Nunawading Stadium
First spot in the East Conference could be on the line in this clash as the 4-2 Nunawading Spectres host the 5-2 Geelong Supercats.
Nunawading required some Shane McDonald brilliance to overcome Brisbane last weekend, winning 102-98 while shooting 52% from the field. The Spartans were just as efficient offensively, shooting 49% while hitting 9-20 from beyond the arc but two three-pointers from McDonald late in the fourth quarter sealed the match.
The Spectres point guard is the only player in the league averaging a points and assists double-double while Simon Conn continues to dominate at age 32 with 22 points and 10 rebounds per game. Coach Dave Biwer believes his side is starting to gel but a hamstring strain to Matt O’Hea could throw a spanner in the works.
Geelong swept Round 5 with a 19-point defeat of Frankston following a 101-79 thrashing of Dandenong. That win over the Rangers sent a message to the East Conference as it capped a four game winning streak to propel the Supercats to the top of the ladder.
Nathan Herbert has been the catalyst in those four games, averaging 22 points at 66% shooting while hitting an incredible 12-15 from the three-point line. Kimmani Barrett still leads the club with 17.7 points per game and his range could cause headaches for the Nunawading front court while the rebound battle will be fought between Eric Gaff (11th in the league for boards), Conn (seventh) and Delwan Graham (third).
Fatigue could play a factor, although Geelong’s back-to-back is evened out by Nunawading returning from a game in Hobart on Friday night. After the birth of his daughter early this week, the Spectres would love Alex Vanrenen to return in order to cover Herbert while the Supercats will be focusing on the likes of veterans Jack Duck and Nick Owusu to shut down the explosive duo of McDonald and Breland Hogan.
Whichever side can get on top in those mini-battles will prevail but Geelong’s recent hot shooting form gives them a slight edge.
Prediction: Geelong by 2
Friday 15th May –
Hobart v Nunawading
The offensive end continues to be problematic for the Chargers, shooting 34% as a team while averaging 25 less points per game less than the Spectres. Veterans of the league, Tiri Masunda and Shane McDonald will go head-to-head at the point guard position while Kyle Hunt’s clash with Simon Conn will be integral to the outcome.
Saturday 16th May –
Canberra v Bendigo
The Gunners chalked up a fourth win already this season by three points or less, knocking off Sandringham in overtime on Saturday. Bendigo are just 2-3 but have Tony Lewis (second in the league for rebounds), Grant Johnson (third for points per game) and Kevin Probert (third in assists). Those stars showed what they are capable of in a victory over Kilsyth last weekend and Bendigo will now look for their first road win.
Brisbane v Mt. Gambier
A three game winning streak to start the year is a distant memory for Brisbane as a loss to Nunawading took their record to 3-3 while Mt. Gambier came from behind at three-quarter time to beat the CoE last weekend. Three-point shots could be the order of the night in this clash as both sides attempt 21+ long range bombs per game, although the Pioneers shoot them at a 6% better clip.
Sandringham v Geelong
Although they have an equal league-best 3-1 record on the road, Sandringham are still winless at home after falling to Canberra in overtime last weekend. They will be desperate to reward their fans and snap a two game losing streak with Alister MacDonald and Stefan Uzelac’s defence on Nathan Herbert essential to their chances.
N-W Tasmania v Dandenong
Losses to Geelong and Albury-Wodonga last round were enough for Dandenong to drop from third to last in the East Conference. The good news is that Chuck Long has found his stroke, increasing his scoring from six points per game to 19 in the past two rounds. N-W Tasmania are no pushovers, having won their past three matches at home and while only nine players have suited up this season, six are averaging double figures.
Frankston v Kilsyth
In their Round 2 meeting, Kilsyth were comfortable 22-point victors but they could be without Kyle Adnam and Tim Lang who missed the clash against the Centre of Excellence last weekend. Frankston are the only team left without a win but showed signs of their ability in a 2-point overtime loss to the CoE in Round 5. If Lang misses, Auryn MacMillan will have the task of containing Brandon Polk who scored an equal league-high 35 points last weekend.
Albury-Wodonga v Ballarat
Both sides sit at 4-3 in the South Conference with the Bandits ahead only on percentage. They snapped a three game losing streak last round against Dandenong as Deba George and Daniel Sepokas added 24 points apiece. Their battle with Roy Booker will decide the outcome of this match as the Ballarat guard has been on a tear recently, scoring 35 and hitting 9-14 from beyond the arc against Canberra. He has hit 17 more three-pointers than anyone else in the league with the sixth best percentage.
Sunday 17th May –
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Bendigo
The CoE were impressive on their triple-header last round, falling in the final quarter to Mt. Gambier before beating Frankston and Kilsyth. The only downside was a knee injury to Jock Perry who was averaging 11 points and 4 rebounds. A week’s break will put them in good stead against the Braves who will be playing their first back-to-back of the year.