AS of now, not much separates the top-eight standings in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Boys competition, with all top three teams suffering losses in the last round. The Eltham Wildcats threaten the Bulleen Boomers at home this week in the match-up of the round, while the Geelong Supercats and Keilor Thunder also look to threaten the top four with another exciting contest. In seventh, the Bendigo Braves face the Dandenong Rangers, sitting only two wins behind first place with a huge chance to lift.
Eltham Wildcats (3rd, 9-3) vs Bulleen Boomers (1st, 10-2)
In the match of the round, the Eltham Wildcats host the Bulleen Boomers in a must-win contest at Montmorency Secondary College. Both teams suffered losses last round, making a win this round more important with several teams pushing for top-four contention. The Bulleen Boomers present a huge chance to topple Eltham due to their poor record at home (3-2-0). Anton Stratov has delivered well for the Wildcats from his two games, averaging 16 points, alongside Kristian Ferronato with 15. The Boomers boast good talent in Daniel Poeslma who also averages 15 PPG, with Daniel Johnston (12) and Marcel Haj (11.7) all proving to be important assets. A win for Eltham would really shake up the top three, while a loss may well show a massive dip in their standings with a handful of teams contesting.
Waverley Falcons (5th, 8-4) vs Pakenham Warriors (11th, 6-5-1)
The Pakenham Warriors hope to join the winner’s list for the first time in the VC when they face an in-form Waverley Falcons on the road. The Falcons have put together a good run since the establishment of the new competition, snaring four consecutive victories on their way to fifth spot. Pakenham have not been so lucky, suffering three losses since its conception and dropping to 11th. A win could see the Warriors rise in contention for the upcoming round if they can hold their own. Waverley’s dismal home record (1-4-0) does not bode well for them when compared to Pakenham’s impressive 4-3-0 away tally – impressive given their position. David Amum leads scoring for the Waverley Falcons, averaging 15 PPG alongside Nemuel Soliven (12.5) and Tesloch Thong (12). Pakenham lack a scoring threat, with no player averaging over 10 PPG. Kayne Taylor leads scoring for the Warriors with an average of six.
Geelong Supercats (6th, 8-3-1) vs Keilor Thunder (4th, 9-3)
In the second biggest outing of the round, the Geelong Supercats hope to spring up the table when they face the fourth-placed, Keilor Thunder, at home. Teams from 4-8 spot on the table are all coming off victories, with the Thunder boasting the biggest streak with five consecutive. The Supercats have also done well recently, snaring their second in a fortnight against the Pakenham Warriors at home. Thus far, the Supercats claim the best home record in the competition (6-1-0). The Thunder have made decent strides on the road but are still behind the standards of the teams around them. The Supercats have shown great talent in their youngster, Olivier Northam (21.3 PPG), who sits second for league scoring. Jet Kneebone has also shown good signs with a 12.7 averaged PPG. For the Thunder, Cooper Colson leads scoring at 19th in league scoring, averaging 11 PPG, with Brodie McWhinney following on 8.7.
Dandenong Rangers (10th, 7-5) vs Bendigo Braves (7th, 8-4)
The Dandenong Rangers host the Bendigo Braves in what looks to be yet another tight contest. Despite having two positions between them, only one win separates these two sides. The Braves have shown great promise on the road, recording one loss from five games, while the Rangers have held up incredibly well at home with five wins from six outings. Jerome Pierre leads scoring for the Rangers with 13.3 PPG from three games, putting up 28 points against the second placed, Knox Raiders, at home. Given that impressive showing, it seems more likely that they would win again, but with Macey Eaton (16.5) firing for the Braves, we could see quite a shoot-out. The fifth best league scorer dropped 15 points in Round 2 but did not play in Round 3. His inclusion could make the world of difference for the Braves given their current match-up.
Knox Raiders (2nd, 9-3) vs Latrobe Energy (9th, 7-5)
To close out the round, the Knox Raiders will hope to re-join the winner’s in their home clash against the Latrobe Energy after losing two consecutive before the holiday break. Like Knox, Latrobe have also suffered losses in their last two outings, going down to two title contenders in Bendigo and Bulleen. The Raiders need to win this game or risk losing a grip on their top-four position. Currently, Knox boast top league scorer in Jordan Anderson, who averages 23.7 PPG, while Zachary Greeves sits in third place with 15.3. Though surprisingly, Latrobe are not without their shooters, with Jack Hrehoresen (20), Coby Burgiel (19) and Kody Tibballs (11.3) all putting up solid numbers in the VC. This game could quickly turn into a shoot-out with either team snaring the win.