ROUND 6 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division kicks off on Friday night across Victoria with a few contests likely to go either way. As the Werribee Devils continue to build off the break, they look to make it three in a row when they face the Dandenong Rangers at home. The Nunawading Spectres also boast a similar affair against the Melbourne Tigers, with the match of round looking to be between the Bulleen Boomers and Kilsyth Cobras in a grapple for top spot.
Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 10-3-1) vs Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 11-1-2)
In recent weeks, the Kilsyth Cobras have been tested. Before returning to the winner’s list last week following their victory over the Melbourne Tigers, the Cobras copped their second draw against a formidable, Dandenong Rangers. This week the Cobras face another top four side in the Bulleen Boomers, who have also suffered a draw against the Rangers in recent weeks. Prior to last round, Bulleen enjoyed four consecutive wins in the Championship Division – taking notable victories from Nunawading and Keilor. With Anthony Dell’Orso and Owen Foxwell averaging 16.4 and 14.4 points per game (PPG) respectively; in fifth and eleventh for league scoring from five outings, the Cobras could struggle to match. Josh Duach (15.6 PPG) has been in top form for Kilsyth over the recent months but lacks a consistent partnership similar to Bulleen. Regardless, David Okwera (10) and Roosevelt Williams (nine) continue to be huge assets for the Cobras, with Okwera dropping a game-high 25 points in last week’s win over Melbourne. If Okwera can get up again, it will be interesting to see which duo prevails.
Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 11-3) vs Melbourne Tigers (5th, 8-6)
With the Nunawading Spectres on the climb, the Melbourne Tigers face a serious challenge this Friday as they hope to get back a win on the road. Last week the Tigers fell to a rebounding Kilsyth, dropping them into dangerous territory on the table (fifth) with three teams equaling their current record. Prior to their loss, the Tigers looked to be building, earning a 32-point win over Diamond Valley before returning from the break to defeat Bendigo at home. Currently, they sit a 2-3 in the Championship Division, compared to Nunawading’s 4-1. Though like Melbourne, the Spectres are yet to knock-off a major contender, losing their biggest match-up this year against the Boomers. This game will be a test for both sides, who have been fortunate not to contend with many top-five teams since the division separated. All eyes should be on James Roche as he pushes for the number one spot for league scoring. Currently, he averages 19.6 PPG from five games, assisted well by Curtis Brecko (12.2) who also sits in the top 20. Melbourne’s, Ezrah Vaigafa rounds out 20th spot in the league, averaging 11 PPG in front of Jordan Adams (10.6) and Lyzel Mataika (10.4) who hold 21st and 22nd respectively.
Werribee Devils (7th, 8-6) vs Dandenong Rangers (4th, 9-3-2)
Making the long trip to Werribee for Friday’s clash, the Dandenong Rangers hope to end their two-game draw streak against an in-form Devils outfit. After facing Bulleen and Kilsyth in recent weeks, the Rangers should revel to face an opponent outside the top-four. The Devils have managed consecutive five-point victories in the last fortnight but have not fared as well against top-end sides such as Bulleen (70-58) and Kilsyth (45-71). With that in mind, the Rangers should put their weak fortnight behind them with a win on the road. So far, Riley Simmons leads scoring for the Rangers with a 12-point average from five appearances. He’s followed close by Harrison Bowater with 11PPG – rounding out the top 20 in nineteenth. For the Devils, Darrien Herbert has been immense with his 16.2-point average placing him in sixth overall for the league. Makur Jongkuch has accompanied him well with 14.2 – sitting 12th across the league. In this match-up, Werribee look a lot more dangerous on the board but lack Dandenong’s two-way game.
Bendigo Braves (13th, 7-6-1) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (11th, 7-7)
The Diamond Valley Eagles hope to finally join the winner’s list when they face the Bendigo Braves on the road this Friday. Since joining the Championship Division the Eagles have recorded five consecutive losses – despite joining the competition at 7-2. The Braves have so far collected 2-3 from their time in the new division, earning their second last week against Korumburra. Currently, the Braves hold a fair 5-2-1 record at home – impressive given their position on the table. The Braves also boast the top league scorer in Caleb Connick who averages 20PPG, and Dyson Daniels who has been in good form in ninth spot with 15 PPG. Comparatively, Diamond Valley only average one player in the top 20 with Ethan Bateman averaging 12 PPG in fourteenth spot, while Matt Marasco and Erik Kafritsas follow next with 8 and 7.8 points respectively.
Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 6-8) vs Keilor Thunder (8th, 8-6)
In one of the most interesting match-ups of the round, the Korumburra Wildcats and Keilor Thunder both risk suffering four consecutive losses when they face on Friday. In recent weeks, the Thunder have fell to three top four sides in Nunawading, Bulleen and Dandenong. Comparatively, Korumburra have suffered losses to Bendigo and Werribee after falling by 35 points in a loss to Kilsyth before the break. The Thunder sit only one win below fourth, while the Wildcats could press for the top eight in the coming rounds. Paul Tsapatolis has been in good form for the Thunder, sitting third for league scoring with 19 PPG. Unfortunately for Keilor, Daelon Ateru is Keilor’s next best scorer on eight. For the Wildcats, Keith Robinson leads scoring with 18.8 PPG, one spot behind Tsapatolis in fourth. Unlike Keilor, Robinson has great support with Luis D’Angelo and Brodie Mabilia averaging 11.8 and 11.6 PPG respectively.