THE regular season reaches a close in the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division with each side fighting for the best possible position in the lead up to finals.
Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 13-1-3) vs Nunawading Spectres (3rd, 13-4)
The finals preview between Kilsyth Cobras and Nunawading Spectres has a lot on the line for both sides. Kilsyth currently holds top spot, boasting a second chance and home final in the coming weeks. Nunawading has cemented their second-chance spot, sitting two wins ahead of Dandenong (fourth) in third. The Spectres will be determined to get up in this contest as they look to catch one of the two home-final spots still up for grabs. Though with their success on the road (8-1-0), a home final might not be the advantage they hope for. Comparatively, Kilsyth boast an unbeaten record in front of the home crowd, which, interestingly, will be tested against the competition’s best away record. Josh Duach will look to get up for the Cobras, having averaged 14.1 points per game (PPG) for the season. Similarly, league-scoring leader, James Roche, will be expected to maintain his dominant form for the Spectres.
Melbourne Tigers (6th, 10-7) vs Werribee Devils (13th, 8-9)
Sitting one spot out from the finals, the Werribee Devils will be looking to lift when they travel to MSAC to face the Melbourne Tigers on Friday. Over the last month Werribee’s record has been less than ideal, losing three of their last four games. Comparatively, the Tigers have won two of their last four, which includes a 29-point thrashing against Bulleen last week. Mathematically, a second-chance opportunity is still available for Melbourne as they sit just one win below the fourth-placed, Dandenong Rangers. Over the last fortnight, Jordan Adams and Patrick Twigg have been standouts for Melbourne. Adams’ ability was made known in their clash with Bulleen, scoring 18 points, while Twigg led with 12 in their win over Keilor. For Werribee, Darrien Herbert emerged last week with 15 points, while Makur Jongkuch dominated in their tight clash with Nunawading. Sitting sixth and seventh for PPG, big things will be expected for this pair.
Dandenong Rangers (4th,11-4-2) vs Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 7-10)
Dandenong will look to stay in touch with the top-four when they face the Korumburra Wildcats. Currently, the Wildcats sit at the bottom of the table but are still a chance to make finals if a few results fall their way. Dandenong sit ineligible for a top-two spot but continue to have their spot threatened with Melbourne just one win behind. Last week, they suffered a critical one-point loss to Nunawading, while Korumburra fell short against bottom-end rivals, Diamond Valley (73-65). In this week’s match-up, Harrison Bowater and Riley Simmons will be expected to fire for the Rangers, having averaged 12.5 and 10.9 PPG. The pair will be up against equal-best league scorer, Keith Robinson. Robinson dropped 28 points in Korumburra’s loss to Diamond Valley, moving his average to 20 PPG. Luis D’Angelo is also expected to fire for the Wildcats, sitting thirteenth with 13.1 PPG.
Keilor Thunder (10th, 9-8) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (12th, 8-9)
Diamond Valley Eagles head to Keilor Park this week where they hope to cement their finals spot with a win over the Thunder. Both teams recorded wins against bottom-end sides last week, with Keilor getting the better of Werribee and Diamond Valley defeating Korumburra. The stakes ramp up for both sides this week, with the threat of missing finals a reality for both. Jeffrey Ofoedu (17) and Tonga Matapule Otutaha (16) were big in Keilor’s win last week, while Paul Tsapatolis continues to lead in PPG (19.8) after dropping 22 points in Round 7. For Diamond Valley, Ethan Bateman has been standout with 11.5 PPG in 17th for league average. Ryan Hoffman and Joseph Brazier will also look to maintain form from last week, having drop 17 points each in their win over Korumburra.
Bulleen Boomers (2nd, 12-3-2) vs Bendigo Braves (11th, 8-8-1)
With the top-two still presenting for three teams, the Bulleen Boomers should look to cement their second spot with a comfortable win over the Bendigo Braves. The Boomers currently hold at two consecutive wins with one of the better percentages in the game. Over the last fortnight, they earned victories against Melbourne (41-70) and Korumburra (72-62), while Bendigo fell consecutively against two other top four sides in Dandenong (80-60) and Kilsyth (70-55). A loss for Bendigo may mean missing finals, with two teams below also on eight wins, and one below them on seven. Anthony Dell’Orso continues to be Bulleen’s greatest scoring threat, having recorded 18 points in last week’s clash to move to fifth across the league. Owen Foxwell also remains a threat with 13.4 PPG, while Bendigo’s equal-first league-scorer, Caleb Connick, looks to close out the league on top with 20 PPG.