THE Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys kicks off the Semi-Finals this week with the Kilsyth Cobras and Nunawading Spectres advancing to the preliminaries. The Dandenong Rangers face off against the Melbourne Tigers, as the Bulleen Boomers come up against the Keilor Thunder, with only two teams advancing into next week.
Dandenong Rangers (4th, 12-4-2) vs Melbourne Tigers (5th, 10-7-1)
The first Semi-Final pits the Dandenong Rangers against the Melbourne Tigers. Last week, the Rangers fell short against the league’s best Kilsyth Cobras (78-53) after conceding two terms of more than 20 points. Melbourne proved better in Hawthorn, defeating Diamond Valley 66-53 to escape elimination. Though Melbourne’s previous experience with Dandenong did not fall their way – conceding 47-71 in June. Harrison Bowater remains a consistent threat for the Rangers – averaging 12.7 points per game (PPG) from 10 outings – including 13 points in last week’s clash and in his previous meeting with Melbourne. Despite underperforming last week, Jyelin Moli (11.1 PPG) also remains impressive. For Melbourne, Jordan Adams (15), Patrick Twigg (14), Lyzel Mataika (12) and Joshua Giddey (12) should all look to back-up last week’s performance. Currently, Giddey ranks twelfth in the league for PPG (13.5), despite playing just his second game last week.
Bulleen Boomers (3rd, 12-4-2) vs Keilor Thunder (7th, 9-9)
The Bulleen Boomers and Keilor Thunder go head to head in the second semi-final in Eltham High. Despite losing their match-up to Nunawading (50-46), Bulleen had a lot to like in Hawthorn. They managed to restore against a first-quarter thrashing to even up the scores at half-time. Keilor also impressed last week to record the highest score of the round (62-81). For Bulleen, Anthony Dell’Orso (15.4 PPG) has been a consistent force – recording 10 points in last week’s loss. Owen Foxwell recorded 12 points last week and also boasts fair consistency, averaging 14.1 PPG. FIBA Under-17 Oceania Championship representative, Paul Tsapatolis, returned in dominant fashion last week to record a league-high 38 points. Tsapatolis quickly jumped to top spot for PPG, and currently sits the only player in the top 20. Tonga Matapule Otutaha also threatens, having scored 14 points in the finals’ precursor.