ROUND 7 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-16 Boys Championship Division poses one more chance for teams outside finals territory – with a clean run home necessary for both Bendigo and Pakenham. The Eltham Wildcats will host the Dandenong Rangers in the match of the round, while the Geelong Supercats face the Bulleen Boomers in a similarly wrought contest.
Eltham Wildcats (2nd, 12-3) vs Dandenong Rangers (6th, 10-5)
This week, the Eltham Wildcats host the Dandenong Rangers in a contest that should set the winner up for finals. A win for the Wildcats keeps them inside the top-two – granting a home final and a second-chance. If the Rangers win, they continue their push for top-four, and with only two wins between them and first, could threaten for something better in the coming rounds. Kristian Ferronato has been one of the league’s most damaging scorers all season. Last week, he put up a game-high 18 points in Eltham’s win, alongside an emerging Zahn Agosta (13). This week they face a damaging pair in Beau Tranter and Jerome Pierre. Pierre sits fifth in the league for points per game (PPG) on 16.4 and dominated in last week’s clash against Latrobe with 25 points. Tranter sits in tenth spot, averaging 14 PPG from six outings.
Bulleen Boomers (1st, 12-3) vs Geelong Supercats (7th, 9-5-1)
With the top spot still in contention, the Bulleen Boomers’ clash at home against the Geelong Supercats will be a must-win. The top-four has tightened over the last few rounds, with Eltham equalling Bulleen’s record and Keilor rising. Despite sitting in 7th, a top-four shot is still attainable for the Supercats – sitting only one win behind fourth. Though more importantly, Geelong risk slipping entirely if Bendigo and Pakenham can get off the bottom. The match-up between Bulleen’s, Marcel Haj, and Geelong’s, Olivier Northam, should be big in deciding the result. This season, Haj has averaged 15.2 PPG from six appearances, and recorded 14 points in last week’s clash to Pakenham. Joe Foxwell was the biggest highlight of that game – recording a game-high 15. Northam has been similarly impressive – averaging 18.7 PPG in fourth and second for overall points (112). Jet Kneebone has also been strong for Geelong with 12 PPG in 15th.
Pakenham Warriors (13th, 6-8-1) vs Knox Raiders (4th, 10-5)
The Knox Raiders sit on the edge of the top-four as they face the Pakenham Warriors on the road this Friday. After losing big to the Keilor Thunder (59-37) last fortnight, the Raiders rebounded strong against the Bendigo Braves (46-66) to stay in touch with the top-four. The Warriors have been in poor form since joining the Championship Division – adding their sixth consecutive loss last week against the Bulleen Boomers (79-61). Kayne Taylor pulled up well in the loss to record 20 points. He moves to twelfth for PPG across the league with 12.8 average from six outings. Drue Maher was also big in the slog with 14 points. Though when compared with the Raiders’, Jordan Anderson, the pair seem a bit outmatched. Anderson currently boasts the most points in the league (134) and second spot for PPG on 22.3. The league-leader had 16 points in last week’s clash – equal with teammate Blake Stratton, who hopefully carries his form into finals.
Keilor Thunder (3rd, 11-4) vs Latrobe Energy (10th, 8-7)
The Keilor Thunder will hope to join the winner’s list this week when they face the Latrobe Energy at home. Last week, Keilor had their longstanding streak ended at the hands of the Waverley Falcons. Before losing to the Falcons, the Thunder were the most dominant team in the Championship Division with seven consecutive wins. Comparatively, Latrobe have won two of their six outings in the new division. They showed up well last week against the Rangers, coming close with 29 points in the third term, but went onto lose touch with 10-23 in the closer. Keilor will look to Brodie McWhinney to perform, having averaged 13.5 PPG in eleventh spot across the league. He has been supported well by Cooper Colson (12.5 PPG and ranked fifteenth), who had 11 against Waverley. For Latrobe, eyes will be on Jack Hrehoresen (19.5) and Kody Tibballs – ranked in third and eighteenth respectively.
Waverley Falcons (5th, 10-5) vs Bendigo Braves (11th, 8-7)
After ending the league’s longest standing streak last week, the Waverley Falcons should hope to resume form as they host the Bendigo Braves. Before last fortnight, the Falcons held a strong winning record. Though after losing grip, returned the week after to put down Keilor’s dominant run. The Braves nurse three consecutive losses after adding their third against a rebounding Knox (46-66) last week. A win is a must for the Braves if they intend on playing finals, but with David Amum, Tesloch Thong and Nemuel Soliven at the helm for Waverley, it could prove difficult. On the leaderboard, Amum (14) leads the Falcons in ninth, while Thong (12.7) and Soliven (11) follow next in thirteenth and nineteenth. The Braves will have Macey Eaton to counter, averaging 12.6 PPG in thirteenth. Though unfortunately, the Braves had no player record double-digits last week, so require a big lift if they hope to compete.