THERE is a lot to like from Round 6 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Boys Championship Division. Geelong Supercats kick off the night against number one contenders, Eltham Wildcats, at home. A win for either side will mean plenty for the top-four standings, with the Waverley Falcons having similar to gain from a win on the road against the Keilor Thunder.
Geelong Supercats (5th, 9-4-1) vs Eltham Wildcats (2nd, 11-3)
This week the Eltham Wildcats travel to Geelong to face the Supercats as they continue their push for top spot, while the Supercats make their case for the top-four. The Wildcats have won all but one of their outings, taking a huge scalp against Bulleen after coming back from the break. Since then, they have beaten Latrobe Energy on the road to snare consecutive victories. Geelong have won three of their five matches in the new division, which includes a victory over the Dandenong Rangers, a close loss against the Keilor Thunder and a surprising defeat against the Latrobe Energy. Though despite some inconsistency, Geelong’s record at home (6-2-0) been solid – similar to Eltham’s away success (6-1-0). Currently, Geelong boast one of the league’s most consistent scorers in Olivier Northam who averages 20 points per game (PPG) from five outings and sits third across the league for average points. Jet Kneebone has also made his way into the top-20, sitting in eleventh with 12.8 PPG from five outings. Kristian Ferronato has been in good for Eltham over his four appearances, averaging 13.8 PPG in ninth spot. His teammate, Anton Stratov sits in thirteenth with 12 PPG.
Keilor Thunder (3rd, 11-3) vs Waverley Falcons (6th, 9-5)
In what looks to be a similarly wrought match-up, Keilor Thunder host Waverley Falcons as they compete for the much sought after top spot. The Thunder boast one of the best records in the league at 11-3 and have been untouchable since the Championship Division began, boasting a seven consecutive win streak. Similarly, the Falcons also boasted a big streak in the new competition, taking huge scalps from Knox, Dandenong and Eltham before losing to Bulleen last week. They boast the league’s best record on the road (7-1-0), and this week face one of the best at home (6-1-0). Both sides will be tested in this match-up. Cooper Colson currently leads scoring for the Thunder in 12th for league scoring with 12.8 PPG. Brodie McWhinney follows close in fourteenth with a 11.8 PPG. The Waverley Falcons boast the best shooter in this match-up, with David Amum sitting in sixth spot on 14.4 PPG, while Nemuel Soliven follows next on 11.3 in eighteenth position.
Bulleen Boomers (1st, 11-3) vs Pakenham Warriors (13th, 6-7-1)
Bulleen Boomers have been given the easiest fixture for Round 6 as they face the Pakenham Warriors at home to retain top spot. The Boomers were dominant all year prior to the Championship Division, but since joining have suffered three losses at the hands of Knox, Keilor and Eltham – all teams pressing for their spot. Last week, they reclaimed some confidence with a big win over the previously undefeated Waverley (72-56). As the top four begins to take shape in the second half of the season, coming up against an easier fixture in Pakenham should help them find some form as we head into the finals. For the Championship Division, Marcel Haj has been dominant with a 15.4-point average from five games in fifth spot for league scoring. His teammates, Daniel Poelsma (13.6) and Daniel Johnston (11.4), have also combined well in offense to sit in tenth and seventeenth spot across the league. For Pakenham, only one player has made their way into the top 20. Kayne Taylor has been the most in-form player for the Warriors, averaging 11.4 PPG in sixteenth. Jak Morris-Burney follows next with 6.2.
Bendigo Braves (9th, 8-6) vs Knox Raiders (4th, 9-5)
Both the Bendigo Braves and Knox Raiders have braved unsuccessful fortnights since returning from the break and will be eager to get a win back on the board. As the Braves host the Raiders, the hope is to return to the eight after falling out with losses to the Supercats and Rangers. Since joining the Championship Division the Raiders have been toppled, taking a big win from the now leading Bulleen before losing four consecutive as they slip from the top spot. A win is important for both sides if they hope to revive their standing, with Knox coming close to losing their second chance opportunity in finals. The Braves will look to Macey Eaton (14.3) and Jacob Nihil (11.2) to lift for their side, sitting in eighth and 20th for league scoring prior to the round. For the Raiders, Jordan Anderson will be the player to watch, currently leading the league in PPG with 23.6. Zachary Greeves has been a solid support for the league-leader, averaging 11.6 from five outings in 15th.
Latrobe Energy (10th, 8-6) vs Dandenong Rangers (7th, 9-5)
Latrobe Energy host Dandenong Rangers this week, with a win being extremely important for both sides. Both competitors sit in tight spots on the table, with Latrobe sharing a win record with two sides, while Dandenong share with three – including Knox Raiders in fourth. The Rangers are starting to put together some good wins, collecting three consecutive after losing their first two in the new division. The Energy have under-performed so far, winning two from five. Though they still boast a fair record at home given their position (5-2-0). Dandenong’s 3-4-0 away record may be talking point next week if they continue to fall on the road. The Rangers have a big job ahead as they face Coby Burgiel and Jack Hrehoresen who average 22 and 20 points respectively from their three outings in second and fourth for PPG. Jerome Pierre will be expected to deliver on his 14.3 average (seventh) for the Rangers, alongside Beau Tranter who has 11.2 PPG in 19th spot.