THE Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Boys Championship Division kicks off their first leg of finals this week, with four teams up for elimination and the remaining four squaring off in the qualifying finals
Eltham Wildcats (1st, 15-3) vs Waverley Falcons (4th, 12-6)
The first qualifying final pits Eltham Wildcats against Waverley Falcons. From their previous encounters they sit at one win apiece, with Waverley earning the most recent victory in late June (67-58). Though the most interesting feature of their third match-up is the neutral territory, with both teams sitting on one loss apiece from their time on the road. Kristian Ferronato will be watched closely, having averaged 11.3 points per game (PPG) from eight outings. He continues to be Eltham’s most consistent shooter, alongside Bradley Moorey (10.6), who delivered a team-high 16 points in last week’s win. For Waverley, David Amum should expect a lot of attention at the board. Along with Tesloch Thong (12.3), Amum sits as one of the league’s most dominant scorers, averaging 15.7 PPG in sixth spot.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 15-3) vs Keilor Thunder (3rd, 12-5-1)
The second qualifying final kicks off at Mill Park Stadium with Bulleen Boomers facing Keilor Thunder. In their last encounter, Keilor handed Bulleen their first and only loss at home, despite holding an average record on the road and three wins between them. Since the loss, Bulleen have turned things around, recording five consecutive wins, while Keilor have recorded a loss and draw over the past fortnight. Bulleen will look to Marcel Haj (17.2 PPG) and Daniel Poelsma (14.6) to have an impact, having recorded 34 and 11 in last week’s win. For Keilor, Cooper Colson (13.9) and Brodie McWhinney (12.2) will look to build on their nine and 12 points from last week.
Geelong Supercats (5th, 10-7-1) vs Bendigo Braves (8th, 10-8)
Geelong Supercats and Bendigo Braves kick off the first of two elimination finals. The last time these two teams faced, Geelong walked away decisive victors (74-68). In the weeks leading in, both teams have suffered poor runs, with Geelong losing three of their last four and Bendigo losing three of their last five. Despite similar records, Bendigo’s success on the road has them winning this one. Geelong will rely heavily on Olivier Northam (20.3 PPG) and Jet Kneebone (11.9) to drive offense. Currently, Northam sits at the top scorer in the finals series, ranking first in overall points and second behind Latrobe’s, Coby Burgiel (21.9), on 20.3 PPG. Comparatively, Bendigo lack top-end scorers. Macey Eaton currently leads with 11.3 PPG, followed next by Jacob Nihil on 8.9.
Dandenong Rangers (6th, 10-7-1) vs Knox Raiders (7th, 10-8)
The first leg of elimination finals caps off with Dandenong Rangers facing Knox Raiders. In their last meeting, Dandenong proved the better outfit, defeating Knox by five points. Though in the time that preceded it, Knox issued a much higher standard to defeat Dandenong (81-58). Though with three consecutive losses currently plaguing Knox, it seems they might be over the hill. The Rangers will have Jerome Pierre (16.4 PPG) and Beau Tranter (13.4) managing offense, with Tranter reaching 15 points in last week’s fight-back draw against Keilor. For Knox, Jordan Anderson continues to be standout, ranking third in the competition for PPG (20.3) and second for overall points (177). Last fortnight, he hit 23 points in the loss to Geelong, followed next by Zachary Greeves (16).