NBL1 Central: Round 5 Preview

FOLLOWING two rounds in the span of one weekend, the NBL1 Central division returns to its usual structure this weekend, and fans can look forward to an exciting weekend of high-quality basketball as the league begins its fifth round.

Norwood Flames v Eastern Mavericks

Women:

This game will prove vital for both sides, as these two teams are both desperate for a win. The Flames have only won one game this season and the Mavericks are yet to register a victory. The winner of this matchup should use this as a turning point to get their season back on track. The Flames will be looking for Alex Wilson to once again ignite the offence, fresh off a 15-point performance in a game where her side could not find the bottom of the net. The Mavericks are in the midst of a shooting slump, but if they can snap this, they may finally find themselves on the winners list. Maverick Mollie McKendrick has been consistent all year, so she will prove key in driving her team to victory with her ability to score freely.

Men:

The Flames escaped with the narrowest of victories against the Panthers in Round 4, but a win is a win, and they’ll be looking to start a streak with a win against the Mavericks. This Mavericks side has struggled all year, to the point where they have started the year 0-4 to find themselves on the bottom of the ladder. They have found various avenues of scoring such as Nathaniel Koko and Lachlan Knibbs, but their inability to defend has cost them. They have given up 389 points in four games, which will not win you many games. They will also have their hands full slowing down CJ Turnage who has proven his ability to score time and time again. The Mavericks face a tough task, but stranger things have happened.

Sturt Sabres v North Adelaide Rockets

Women:

The Sabres are on a nice winning streak at the moment. They’ve won their last three games and have placed themselves quite nicely in third place. The Rockets are hot on their tail with two wins and two losses, and an upset here could see them close that gap even further. Consistency has let the Rockets down, as they haven’t won two games in a row this year. They have a nice opportunity to do that this weekend, and if they want to achieve this goal, they’ll need Taylor Ortlepp to continue her form of late. Ortlepp had 24 points and 15 rebounds last weekend and acts as a barometer for the team. The Sabres have scoring power of their own in Kylee Smith and Lauren Gibbons, so expect a high scoring match.

Men:

Sturt’s men’s side is in some serious form at the moment, having not dropped a game so far this season. Four wins and zero losses after four rounds is about as good as it gets, but heavy is the head that wears the crown. The Sabres have found themselves hunted by the other sides, and the Rockets will be eager to be the side that breaks their streak. Fresh off a nice win against the Bearcats in Round 4, the Rockets will have their tails up, and have plenty of faith in themselves to cause an upset here. They’ll need Verle Williams provide a similar effort to last week (28 points). The Sabres may be in form, but the Rockets are just as hungry.

Woodville Warriors v Forrestville Eagles

Women:

The Warriors face a tough task here, if they want to leave St Clair Recreation Centre with a win, they’ll have to do what four teams haven’t been able to do this year and take down an Eagles side that is full of confidence. The Warriors haven’t been quite as good this year, only winning one of their first four games and were fairly embarrassed by the Sabres last week. The Eagles will likely prove too good in this match, but the beauty of sport is that anything can happen. One advantage the Warriors do have is in the form of Emily Winter, who has had as good a start to the 2021 season as anyone, emphasised by her 24-point, 22-rebound performance last round. Her hard work deserves reward, and a win against one of the best sides in the league would be the best reward possible.

Men:

This contest is shaping up to be a fantastic battle. These sides are extremely hard to split on paper with both sides 3-1 after four rounds and capable of playing fast paced, high scoring basketball. The Warriors took the Sabres to the very end of the game, falling by seven points in the end in a valiant effort. This loss will not only motivate them going forward but it also showed that they can match it with the best. The Eagles did enough to get past the Lions, walking away with an eight-point win to move up the ladder. It will be an enthralling duel between Warrior Joe Jackson and Eagle Gregory Mays. With both players in great form, keep an eye on this battle-within-the-battle.

Central District Lions v Southern Tigers

Women:

These two sides have had contrasting season in terms of success. The Tigers have been the best side in the league after four rounds of action and have looked a class above their peers on a weekly basis. This side is stacked with confidence and rightfully so and will take some serious beating. On the other hand, the Lions have struggled to start the 2021 season, failing to win a game and finding themselves on the bottom of the ladder. This match up seems a near impossible task, especially with Teige Morrell in form. Morrell dropped 24 points and 14 rebounds last week in an excellent display, and she should prove difficult to guard again.

Men:

Leading into this game, the Tigers have found some nice form. Winning their last two matches, the side will be quietly confident of making it three in a row, especially after last week’s comfortable win over the Mavericks. The situation isn’t as positive for the Lions, who have lost three in a row after winning their first game of the year, but don’t rule them out just yet. Their final quarter rally against the Eagles last week showed this team still has some fight, even if it didn’t secure them the win. Another positive from this match was the performance of David Humphries, who poured in 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He will be crucial in his team’s chances to compete with this red hot Tigers team.

West Adelaide Bearcats v South Adelaide Panthers

Women:

The final matchup of the round is a Sunday battle between two sides who are in similar places after four rounds. The Bearcats fought all game to try and steal a win from the Rockets last round in a game they probably should have won. The Bearcats shot better from the field than their opponents, but undisciplined defence cost them the game, with the Rockets shooting 17 more free throws, a crucial stat in a game decided by seven points. This will drive the Bearcat players and expect them to come into this round’s match fired up. Meanwhile, the Panthers are on a high after taking care of the Flames in convincing fashion. With Ashley Spencer pouring in points (22 points in Round 4) and Olivia Thompson controlling the boards (16 rebounds in Round 4), the Panthers will be hard to stop.

Men:

Round 4 brought heartbreak for the Panthers, as they fell just a solitary point short of stealing a game from the Flames, but it wasn’t meant to be. They shot a fantastic 44 percent from the field and were unlucky to face a team that ended up shooting 50 percent from the field. This also demonstrates a need for their defence to tighten up, a key point that was likely addressed during preparation for this week. Alex Starling put in one of the best individual performances of the round in the loss, finishing with 30 points, 16 rebounds and four steals, so keep an eye on her this week. The Bearcats were soundly beaten by the Rockets last round and will need to improve if they are to compete this weekend against the Panthers. Facing a Rockets side that had not yet won a game, the Bearcats simply didn’t show up as they needed to and will be eager to rectify this with a Round 5 win. Expect both sides to come out hungry for redemption.

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