ROUND 5 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Boys Championship Division is set to be a competitive week, with the Bulleen Boomers, Eltham Wildcats and Keilor Thunder tightening up the top three at 10-3. The Thunder face a struggling Knox Raiders in their quest for top spot, the Wildcats hit the road against the Latrobe Energy, while the Boomers face the biggest match-up of the round against a building Waverley Falcons.
Keilor Thunder (3rd, 10-3) vs Knox Raiders (4th, 9-4)
The Keilor Thunder face the Knox Raiders at home this week for a chance to snare top spot. If this were the beginning of the Championship Division, Knox would likely be the favourite heading into this match-up. However, in recent weeks the Raiders form has dipped drastically, having lost three of their last four since the division’s establishment. The Thunder have been right at home, currently boasting the biggest streak in the league with six consecutive wins. A win could place them first, while a loss for Knox could have major consequences – only sitting a win ahead of ninth place. In the match-up, Cooper Colson should be looked to. The Thunder favourite has been a consistent producer since joining the Championship Division, averaging 11.8 PPG, alongside Brodie McWhinney who follows next on 9.5. Though the pair have a big job ahead when they face league scoring leader, Jordan Anderson. For Knox, Anderson has averaged 23.5 PPG from four games. Zachary Greeves has also impressed with 14.5 to hold sixth place for league scoring.
Bulleen Boomers (1st, 10-3) vs Waverley Falcons (5th, 9-4)
In what could be the game of the round, the Bulleen Boomers host an in-form Waverley Falcons for a chance to remain on top. The Bulleen Boomers have hit a rough patch as of late. The league-leaders suffered a loss to Keilor Thunder at home before returning from the break last week to lose to Eltham on the road. While only losing the games by four points, it seems Bulleen are being exposed by teams on the rise. One such team is the Waverley Falcons, who boast five consecutive wins. Since joining the Championship Division, the Falcons have taken big scalps from both Eltham and Knox on their conquest to the top-four. With so much at stake, Bulleen will look to Marcel Haj (14.5), Daniel Poelsma (12.5) and Daniel Johnston (12) to combine well on the board. All three players sit in the top 10 for scoring, sitting fifth, ninth and 10th respectively. For the Falcons, David Amum has led scoring with 13.8 PPG. Tesloch Thong and Matt Jefferson have also been immense with 11.5 and 9.8 PPG – the trio needing to match or minimise Bulleen’s scoring weapons if they hope to win.
Bendigo Braves (8th, 8-5) vs Geelong Supercats (6th, 8-4)
With both sides on the brink of slipping, the Bendigo Braves and Geelong Supercats will hope to rebound off last week’s losses when they face each other this week. With Dandenong potentially snaring a win over Pakenham this week, both sides risk being passed and dropped from the eight. Last week, Geelong suffered a loss against Keilor, while Bendigo struggled against Dandenong. Neither side have knocked off a top-end side since joining the Championship Division, though the Supercats managed consecutive wins before the break. The Braves have recorded one win thus far, beating Latrobe prior to the month off. Macey Eaton has been a damaging scorer for the Braves this year, producing a 12.7 average over three games. Jacob Nihill follows next for Bendigo with 8.8 across four games. For the Supercats, Olivier Northam has been immense. The Geelong favourite averages 17.8 PPG from four outings, supported well by Jet Kneebone who hits well with 11.3.
Latrobe Energy (7th, 8-5) vs Eltham Wildcats (2nd, 10-3)
The Latrobe Energy present a fair chance to rise through the eight when they face the Eltham Wildcats. With Keilor and Bulleen both pressing, it is important for the Wildcats to snare this win. Of the top three, they may have drawn the easiest fixture, though Latrobe have been a hard team to pin down. Before the break, the Energy handed Bendigo their win first win in the Championship Division, but last week dealt Knox their third consecutive loss. Whether that is a comment on Knox or Latrobe is still unclear. Though with Coby Burgiel and Jack Hrehoresen at the helm, it’s possible that Eltham suffer similarly to Knox. The pair rank second and third across the league for PPG, averaging 22 and 20 from their three games in the Championship Division. In seventh, the Wildcats have Kristian Ferronato with 13.8 PPG from four outings, followed by Anton Stratov with 12 PPG from three.
Pakenham Warriors (13th, 6-6) vs Dandenong Rangers (9th, 8-5)
The Pakenham Warriors hope to snare their first win in the Championship Division when they face a rising Dandenong Rangers this week. Pakenham’s record at home has been mediocre this season, going 2-2-1, similar to Dandenong’s success on the road at 2-4-0. Given their tallies, the game could fall either way. Though the Rangers would be eager to string their third consecutive win together and push their way into the eight, while the Warriors look to revive their season with just five games left of the regular season. Kayne Taylor leads scoring for the Warriors in the new division, averaging 10.8 PPG from this four. Jak Morris-Burney follows next on 6.3. For the Rangers, Jerome Pierre has been immense with 13.3 PPG, followed next by Beau Tranter on 10.5. Pakenham will be up against it trying to contain Dandenong’s Pierre and Tranter, who have proven dangerous over the last month.