ROUND 4 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys competition kicks off on Friday with the second-placed Dandenong Rangers hosting league-leaders, Kilsyth Cobras, at home in the biggest game of the round. The Diamond Valley Eagles and Werribee Devils are still without wins in the VC Championship division, while the Bulleen Boomers remain undefeated along with Dandenong and Kilsyth. With as much as one win separating a lot of these positions, this round has the potential to shuffle the table quite a bit before Round 5.
Dandenong Rangers (2nd, 9-3) vs Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 10-1-1)
This Friday the Dandenong Rangers host the Kilsyth Cobras for a chance to threaten top spot in Round 5. Both sides boast impressive win streaks, with the Cobras on four and the Rangers leading with five. Unfortunately for the Rangers, a win will not put them over due to Kilsyth’s extra draw, but will allow them some separation from Bulleen (third) and Nunawading (fourth), threatening on the same ratio. Harrison Bowater and Riley Simmons have put up solid numbers for the Rangers, averaging 13.7 points per game (PPG) each. The pair both dropped 12 points last round against the Keilor Thunder, while their teammate, Zac Taylor, impressed with 15. For the Cobras, Josh Duach has also been recording solid numbers – sitting fifth for PPG on the league scoring list with 16.7, with Roosevelt Williams (12 PPG) also in good form. This season Kilsyth have been on the right end of some big margins, going 70-32, 45-71 and 31-66 in their last three outings in the VC. Despite boasting a fair home record (4-1-0), the Rangers will need to bring everything if they even plan on staying close with Cobras at that final buzzer.
Keilor Thunder (5th, 8-4) vs Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 9-3)
This game looks to be another tight affair with the result having a huge impact on the top-four standings. The Thunder sit one win behind the Boomers in third, but just win ahead of four teams below them. A positive result for the Thunder is a must with Bulleen threatening a top-two position in a tightly packed top-four. The Thunder have a shown a poor home record this season, sitting at three wins and three losses – traditionally tracking better on the road (5-1-0). Comparatively, the Boomers have performed worse on road (4-3-0) compared to teams around them but remain undefeated at home (5-0-0), so this game could go either way. For the Thunder, Paul Tsapatolis has dominated league scoring (fourth) with 17.5 PPG across two games. Though with Anthony Dell’Orso (15.7), Owen Foxwell (14.3) and Nicholas Woodall (11.3), the Boomers boast much greater offensive coverage, with Keilor having no other player average above 10 points this season. It’s unlikely Tsapatolis will match the Boomers’ fire power alone, so is bound to need some serious support at the board.
Diamond Valley Eagles (9th, 7-5) vs Nunawading Spectres (4th, 9-3)
The Nunawading Spectres will travel to Community Bank Stadium on Friday where they will face the Diamond Valley Eagles. A win for the Spectres will upset the current top-four standings, while a win for the Eagles may just put them back in the chase, having lost all three of their VC Championship games. The Eagles home record has been poor so far, having loss three from six in front of their home crowd this year, while the Spectres have proved dominant on the road with a five from six record. The Spectres also boast the second highest league scorer in James Roche (20 PPG), who has put up 60 points total across his three games. Curtis Brecko has been similarly impressive for the Spectres, averaging 11.3 PPG. For the Eagles, no player sits within the top 20 for league scoring or averages greater than 10 PPG. Ethan Bateman and Erik Kafritsas are Diamond Valley’s highest scorers, averaging 8.7 and 8.3 points respectively. Without a real scoring threat, Diamond Valley look unlikely to compete for four terms and risk slipping further down the table, while Nunawading contests for top spot.
Melbourne Tigers (7th, 7-5) vs Bendigo Braves (11th, 6-5)
The Tigers stand a chance to move into fifth when they come up against the Bendigo Braves at home on Friday, though the Braves also present a chance to climb. Neither side have presented the best form – both presenting one win from three games in VC Championships. The Tigers still hold a respectable record at home (4-2-0) for their position, so seem a fair chance to withstand against Bendigo’s track record on the road (2-3-0). Ezrah Vaigafa and Jordan Adams have been impressive for the Tigers all season, averaging 13 and 12.3 PPG respectively. The pair will have their work cut out for them when they face the top league scorer, Caleb Connick (21 PPG), at home. Despite Bendigo’s position, Connick has proven himself as the league’s greatest scoring threat – dropping 23 points in their last outing. Isaac Murphy (10.3) should also prove a great asset for the Braves on Friday, sitting eighteenth for league scoring.
Korumburra Wildcats (10th, 6-6) vs Werribee Devils (12th, (6-6)
This one could go either way, with both sides sitting at six wins and six losses apiece. The Korumburra Wildcats host the Werribee Devils on Friday in a must win game for both sides. In twelfth and tenth, both sides are only a win below sixth place. The Devils are yet to record to a win in the VC, while the Wildcats success has been in similar form having just come off a loss. Though surprisingly, Korumburra boast two players in the top-five for league scorers with Keith Robinson and Luis D’Angelo averaging 19.3 and 15.7 PPG respectively. The pair are also well accompanied by Brodie Mabilia who averages 10.3 PPG in the VC Championships in 17th. For the Devils, Darrien Herbert (13.7 PPG) and Makur Jongkuch (12) have been their greatest threats. Last round, Herbert dropped 14 points in the loss to Bulleen, with Aaron Dolny (10) and Kane Hart (12) also emerging.