Albury-Wodonga Bandits 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 – Albury-Wodonga v Geelong
Saturday 13th June- 8:00pm @ Lauren Jackson Sports Centre
Second plays host to first in the East Conference as Albury-Wodonga and Geelong meet for the final time in the regular season.
The Bandits shot just 35% against Brisbane in their last match before the Queen’s Birthday break, falling 82-89 as their three-game winning streak was snapped. They are getting great production out of their two imports, Cory Dixon and Donte Nicholas with Dixon sitting fourth in points per game (22) and second for rebounds (11.9 with four offensive boards per game) while Nicholas adds 19.4 points and leads the league with 23 total steals.
In Round 8, Geelong became the first team to defeat Canberra this season in a game decided by three points or less with an 83-80 victory. They have gone 7-1 in their past eight games to grab top spot in the East Conference where they have sat since the beginning of May.
Despite having an older roster, nine of the Supercats’ twelve players have hit the court every match with 300+ gamers Nathan Herbert averaging 16.6 points and Nick Owusu averaging 12.3 and four assists. Kimmani Barrett has not set the competition alight like he did in 2012 but his 18.3 points per game is still good for 12th in the league.
When these sides met in Round 3, Geelong led by 14 at three-quarter time before winning 96-87. Eric Gaff’s 10 points and 13 rebounds helped the Supercats to a +10 advantage on the boards, countering Dixon’s 32 points. Deba George scored just 7 points but has averaged 20 in his past three games while Geelong’s Jack Duck, having reached double figures twice in his past three games, has also found form just in time to face his old club.
In a possible preview of the East Conference playoffs, Albury-Wodonga are the only side left unbeaten at home while Geelong’s 4-2 road record is one of the best in the league. The experience of Supercats guards Duck and Owusu will provide an intriguing clash with George and Daniel Sepokas while the import battle between Nicholas and Barrett could decide the match.
Prediction: Albury-Wodonga by 2
Friday 12th June –
Frankston v Mt. Gambier
This is the second straight game for Mt. Gambier against Frankston after they thrashed the Blues by 44 points in Round 8. The hosts have had a game in between but must focus on the boards after being out-rebounded by 16 in their first clash. Jack Gaze (17 points) impressed in that match but shutting down players like Brad Hill (19 points) will be integral to Frankston’s chances.
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Hobart
The CoE have a severely depleted list with preparations for the Under-19 World Championships underway. Eight players plus coach Adam Caporn will not be present, giving Hobart a golden opportunity to string together their first win streak of the season. The visitors league-best defence will make it tough for the home side to score and Kyle Hunt’s battle with Jock Perry at the centre position will be one to watch.
Brisbane v N-W Tasmania
With Kyle Clark on Emus duties and having made the decision to release import Monzaigo Williams, the Thunder’s forward stocks will take a hit if replacement, Garrett Jackson, does not arrive in time. Brisbane sit at the bottom of the East Conference but are a far better side at home, having beaten Albury-Wodonga there last round. They did fall to N-W Tasmania by 19 points in Round 4 despite Brendan Teys scoring 25.
Saturday 13th June –
Bendigo v Ballarat
Chasing a top four position in the East, Ballarat have let Kodi Augustus (18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds per game) go. Gregory Thondique is expected to debut as his replacement but Roy Booker, Everard Bartlett and Anthony Fisher will have to step up as the new import settles in. The Miners were 10-point victors when these sides met on opening night but Bendigo have won three of their past five and after collecting 18 points and 13 boards in that first clash, Tony Lewis could again take full advantage.
Kilsyth v Mt. Gambier
The Queen’s Birthday break came at the perfect time for Kilsyth as they have won just one of their past seven matches. Included in that streak was a 24-point loss to the Pioneers after they trailed by just three at half-time. With a two-week respite, the Cobras need to attack Mt. Gambier who will be on the second night of a back-to-back but Tyrone Lee (23 points in that first encounter) and Erik Burdon (19 points on 5-9 long range shooting) are the dangers.
Canberra v Hobart
Winless on the road this season, Hobart have a chance to resurrect their season as Canberra are just 2-3 at home. A sweep of the round could carry them into a top four position in the South Conference but they will be facing a two-week rested team in the Gunners. The home’s sides chances rest on the likes of Reece Kaye and Andrew Murphy’s ability to slow down Kilsyth point guard, Kyle Adnam.
Dandenong v Frankston
In their second meeting of the year, Frankston will be looking for redemption after falling by 5 points in Round 3. Chris Patton and Daequon Montreal did the damage in that clash, combining for 38 points and 20 rebounds with a double-double each. Playing against his old club, Chuck Long had just 7 points but has reached double-figures in five of his past seven games while the Rangers have won three straight.
Nunawading v Sandringham
With a loss to Bendigo at home last round, the Spectres’ record at Nunawading Stadium is worse than Sandringham’s road record while the Sabres are 3-4 in matches decided by three points or less after falling by a point to the CoE. Expect a bruising encounter in the front court when Simon Conn and Delwan Graham face Junior Hairston and Rayshawn Goins.
Sunday 14th June –
Sandringham v N-W Tasmania
Both sides will be playing their third double-header for the season with the Thunder’s travel-time from Brisbane balanced by a day’s break in between games. Sandringham will take confidence from their four-point victory in Round 1 when Goins (27 points, 17 rebounds-8 offensive) dominated the paint. The likes of Nathan Wilson have a responsibility to shut him down if the visitors are to get their revenge.