ROUND 3 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys competition is set to be a big one. Four teams are looking to shake-up the top five with teams placed second to fifth all sitting on eight wins and three losses. The match of the round is the fifth placed Keilor Thunder hosting the Dandenong Rangers in second. The result will definitely shuffle a few positions and may shake things up as we head toward Round 4. The Melbourne Tigers will also be keen to snare a victory at home against the Diamond Valley Eagles after losing the past two games, who are also yet to join the winners’ list since the pre-break split.
Korumburra Wildcats (9th, 6-5) vs Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 9-1-1)
In Round 3, the Korumburra Wildcats host the Kilsyth Cobras at Korumburra Stadium where they hope to protect one of the league’s better home records (4-2) against a dominant opposition. The Kilsyth Cobras continue to boast top spot, looking to add to their three-win streak after two big wins against Keilor Thunder and Werribee Devils in the last two games. The Wildcats are coming off a 70-58 win against the Melbourne Tigers which should bolster their confidence come Friday night. Though the most compelling facet of this game might be the shoot-out between the league’s top scorers, Korumburra’s, Keith Robinson, and Kilsyth’s, Josh Duach. For the last two rounds, Robinson averaged 25.5 points per game, while Duach averaged 20.5. Against Werribee last week, Duach dominated with 31 points, while Luis D’Angelo and Robinson combined well with 27 points each. A win against the league-leaders would be a huge lifter for the Wildcats, but Cobras record has that seeming unlikely.
Bendigo Braves (11th, 6-4-1) vs Nunawading Spectres (4th, 8-3)
Both of these teams are coming off a loss at home. The Nunawading Spectres suffered a tragic one-point loss against the Bulleen Boomers, while the Bendigo Braves fell to the Keilor Thunder. This week the Braves host again and need to deliver, having lost both games of the VC. While Braves’ record at home is definitely one of the better ones, the Spectres’ success on the road is close to league-best. The Spectres are knocking on the door of second place, and with the Dandenong Rangers facing tougher competition against the Keilor Thunder, pose a serious threat to move up a spot or two. All eyes will be on Spectres player, James Roche, who averaged 14.3 PPG pre-VC split, and now boasts an 18.5 average. Bendigo’s Caleb Connick has also impressed, dropping two consecutive 20-point games, jumping to third for league-scoring. It will be interesting to see whether Connick’s form presses on and if Roche can respond following last week’s four-point game.
Melbourne Tigers (8th, 6-5) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (6th, 7-4)
The Melbourne Tigers and Diamond Valley Eagles have had the poorest starts to the VC, with the Tigers recording some of the biggest losses thus far and the Diamond Valley seeming unlucky in their defeats. With both sides desperate for a win, this contest may prove scrappy. The Diamond Valley Eagles have a good record on the road but are slipping further down the table following losses to the Bulleen Boomers and Dandenong Rangers. Joseph Brazier (10 points) and Matt Marasco (10) impressed last week, but the Eagles continue to lack a dangerous scorer, with their top scorer averaging just 10 points in the second round. For Melbourne, Lyzel Mataika (18) lifted last week and proved a definite shooting threat, but his efforts haven’t been enough thus far. Last week, Melbourne fell to the Wildcats by 12 points, worsening their record on the road and their confidence heading into this round. A win will mean a lot to both sides, but this should be the margin the Eagles are on the right side of.
Keilor Thunder (5th, 8-3) vs Dandenong Rangers (2nd, 8-3)
In the game of the Round, the Keilor Thunder host the Dandenong Rangers with the result likely to have a big affect on the standings. Both teams have a few spots separating them, but nothing in the wins and losses columns. Dandenong’s tight win on the road last week against the Eagles, sent them to 2nd place and their opposition to 6th – one win below them. The win marked their fourth consecutive victory, placing pressure on Keilor’s weak home record this Friday. After copping a huge 38-point belting from Kilsyth in Round 1, the Thunder regained some footing with a win on the road against Bendigo. Nicholas Guida, Jeffrey Ofoedu and Derhyse Matautia all stood up in Paul Tsapatolis’ absence with 11 points each. The Dandenong Rangers have had two key players in Leyi Adebayo (17 points per game) and Riley Simmons (14.5). The pair will be an undeniable threat this Friday and have a huge chance of leading their team to victory.
Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 8-3) vs Werribee Devils (12th, 6-5)
The Bulleen Boomers are one of four teams currently threatening for 2nd spot, while the Werribee Devils risk four consecutive losses. The Devils barely scraped into the VC and have struggled since qualifying, losing both games to the Bendigo Braves and Kilsyth Cobras. Though with six wins and five losses, they are still well within contention, having only barely lost to the Braves (63-66). However, the Bulleen Boomers have not lost a game at home (4-0-0) and have won both their games in the VC. Anthony Dell’Orson (13 PPG), Isaac Murphy (12.5) and Owen Foxwell (12.5) have supported the Boomers well, but they haven’t matched the scoring of Werribee’s, Makur Jongkuch (14.5) and Darrien Herbert (13.5). However, the Devils poor away record (2-3-0) says they likely will not win this one, putting Bulleen in high contention for a top-2 position.