NBL1 Central Round 3 Preview: Redemption and momentum the stories this week

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central division is already two weeks into the season, and the games are starting to heat up. With plenty of close contests last weekend, the hype for the third round of action couldn’t be more real.

Forrestville Eagles v North Adelaide Rockets

Women’s

The Forrestville Eagles are currently 2-0 for the season following last week’s nail-biting victory over the Norwood Flames. The Eagles escaped with a three point win, and will be hoping to make the margin a bit bigger against the Rockets. Samantha Simons will be crucial to her side’s success, and if she can produce a performance close to her effort last week – which involved 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists – the Rockets will be in trouble. North Adelaide walked away with a comfortable 31-point win over the Woodville Warriors and will be taking plenty of confidence into this matchup. Will the duo of Taylor Ortlepp and Sam Defrancesco prove too much for the Eagles? They will play an important role in posting a winning score.

Men’s

The men’s Forrestville side was not so lucky last week, as they fell to the Flames by seven points last Saturday night. Despite setting themselves up with a strong first quarter, outscoring their opponents by nine, the Eagles were not able to hold the lead or complete the last quarter comeback. They will need to improve both areas in order to win this match. Eagle Michael Harris is in hot form after a 35-point performance last week and will be one to watch in this match. The Rockets have had a rough start to the year, yet to grab their first win, and copping a 34-point loss last round at the hands of the Warriors. The scoring issue was as clear as day, with no definitive first option against Woodville. Jimma Nau top scored for his team last week and will need to put the team on his shoulders offensively if they are to compete against the Eagles.

West Adelaide Bearcats v Norwood Flames

Women’s

Both teams coming off a loss last week, the loser of this match will have plenty to ponder as they slide down the ladder. The Bearcats fell by six points to the red hot Southern Tigers, and will need to improve on last week’s performance if they are to conjure a win. Sky Lamgenbrinck has been her side’s best performer two weeks in a row, so it will be interesting if the Flames put any extra work into her defensively, or if she will once again be given free rein. The Flames fell in similar fashion last week, by a mere three points to the Eagles. Keep an eye on Alex Wilson who chimed in a 20-point triple double in Round 2 and will be about the play again.

Men’s

The Bearcats kicked off their season last week in proper fashion, bouncing back from a Round 1 loss to triumph over the Southern Tigers by eight points on Saturday night. The side poured in a much stronger performance than their first match, and will be riding the momentum into this game. Fabian Johnson and Earnest Ross led from the front and combined for 45 points last week, and should prove difficult to shut down. The Flames also got their first win of 2021, with an impressive victory over the Eagles. They will once again be looking for CJ Turnage to ignite the offence after his 37-point performance on Saturday.

South Adelaide Panthers v Southern Tigers

Women’s

In the most exciting clash of the round, two undefeated sides will go head to head in what will surely be an entertaining battle. The Panthers backed up their Round 1 win with a dominant 28-point victory over the Mavericks in Round 2. The Panthers have so many avenues for scoring which is what makes them one of the biggest threats in the competition. Olivia Thompson’s 27 point and 17 rebound performance in the win puts her at the top of the list of players to watch. The Tigers’ Round 2 win was less convincing – only six points over the Bearcats – but a win nonetheless. Their defence will have to be executing well all game if they are a chance to stop the Panthers. Morgan Yaeger was strong for the Tigers last week and should contribute again this week.

Men’s

Once again, the Panthers proved too good for their Round 2 opponents, knocking down the Mavericks by 23 points in their second win of the year. The similarities between the club’s two sides are clear, they both have a number of scorers on their time, making them extremely difficult to shut down offensively. Last week it was Todd Davies, and it could be him again this week, but it also could be five other players. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they haven’t started the season as well, still searching for their first win. Their scoring in the loss to Bearcats was not an issue, with Koop McCalop and Nick Wurm combining for 46 points, but their defence cost them, unable to stop their opponents. This will need to improve if they are to stop the high-scoring Panthers.

Sturt Sabres v Eastern Mavericks

Women’s

The Eastern Mavericks will be heading into this game looking for an all-important first victory, but Sturt had quite the win last week – so big it nearly makes them the form team of the competition. Defeating the Lions by a whopping 95 points in Round 2, Sturt were absolutely ruthless against their opponents, and could defeat any team in the league if they play like that. Led magnificently by Jade Johnson with 38 points and eight three-pointers, their offence was near perfect, and looked ominous to other teams. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have looked a step off it this season, and will need improvements all around if they are to stop this Sabres train.

Men’s

The Sabres haven’t put a foot wrong this season, starting the season 2-0 and delivering a convincing 17-point victory over the Lions last round. Sam Daly has started the season in great form, consistently finding ways to score and should do no less in this matchup. The Mavericks disappointed against the Panthers last week, and face a tough task stopping the Sabres this week. They do have the tools with potential to cause an upset. Their offence has shown great signs of flow in the opening two matches, and if Nathaniel Koko becomes slightly more aggressive with the ball, it will go a long way to securing an unexpected victory.

Woodville Warriors v Central Districts Lions

Women’s

It’s a fight for a first win, as both sides look to improve from their 0-2 start to the 2021 season. 1-2 sounds a lot different to 0-3, so the stakes in this game are higher than it may look. The Warriors have shown glimpses of high quality basketball, but their issue comes in not being able to string together a four quarter performance. Emily Winter has been in remarkable form with 18 points and 20 rebounds last week, but hasn’t got the support required for victory to match it. This weekend is the opportunity they have been waiting for, as they face a side that is in even less form. The Lions’ 95-point defeat at the hands of the Sabres in Round 2 was a shock to many, but most of all the Lions themselves. The team would be significantly disappointed in their start to the season, not even looking in the contest over the first two games. Some serious improvement is needed if they are to notch their first win, but stranger things have happened.

Men’s

The Warriors had an excellent week in Round 2, defeating the Rockets by 34 points in a textbook performance. Woodville grabbed control in the first quarter and never let go, constantly harassing their opponents on the defensive end and creating shots for themselves on the offensive end. Joe Jackson and Julian Jacobs both had strong outings in this match, and should be looking to back it up this weekend. The Lions couldn’t back up their Round 1 victory with a win over the Sabres in Round 2, but it isn’t all doom and gloom. Lual Diing continued his strong start to the season and they started the game well. They can be quietly confident heading into this clash, despite the underdog tag. Expect a close battle.

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