NBL1 weekend preview: Round 12

WITH four rounds remaining in the regular season, National Basketball League (NBL)1 sides have between three and six matches remaining for the 2019 season. In the men’s competition, Ballarat Miners, Nunawading Spectres and Geelong Supercats will be contesting finals, while Southern Sabres and Ringwood Hawks are two sides out of the running. The mid-table log-jam makes it an enticing run home, with plenty of sides still well and truly in contention for not only finals, but a top four spot.

At the top, Ballarat Miners look as safe as houses to lock up the minor premiership, three games clear of the next highest in Nunawading and Geelong. The Miners host the tenth placed Eagles, whom have to then back up against the second placed Spectres in an unlucky weekend of fixturing for them. The two losses will likely end their finals hopes, and keep alive the likes of Knox Raiders (who face seventeenth placed Ringwood Hawks) and Bendigo Braves (who take on thirteenth placed Eltham Wildcats). Both Tasmanian sides face Melbourne Tigers, with the Tigers knocked out of the top four and keen to jump back in and secure a double-chance. Kilsyth Cobras hold fourth as it stands, and they have a massive clash against eighth placed Dandenong Rangers who are narrowly clinging onto a finals position.

Geelong have cellar dwellers Southern Sabres on Saturday, however the Sabres and Hawks both had wins last round to show that they could have bearing on the finals series even without participating in it. The Waverley Falcons also take on the Sabres, and a win is crucial to potentially gain breathing space inside the top eight. In the other game, sixteenth placed Albury Wodonga Bandits host sixth placed Frankston Blues, with the Bandits all but out barring a miracle, while the Blues will still be sniffing out a double-chance by continuing their great form of late.

Round 12 fixtures:

Friday, June 28:

North West Thunder (14th, 6-9) vs. Melbourne Tigers (5th, 9-5)

Saturday, June 29:

Dandenong Rangers (8th, 7-8) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (4th, 9-5)
Southern Sabres (18th, 3-11) vs. Geelong Supercats (3rd, 10-6)
Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 10-5) vs. Ringwood Hawks (17th, 5-10)
Eltham Wildcats (13th, 6-9) vs. Bendigo Braves (9th, 7-8)
Hobart Huskies (15th, 6-8) vs. Melbourne Tigers (5th, 9-5)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (16th, 6-9) vs. Frankston Blues (6th, 9-6)
Ballarat Miners (1st, 13-2) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (10th, 7-8)

Sunday, June 30:

Diamond Valley Eagles (10th, 7-8) vs. Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 10-5)
Knox Raiders (12th, 6-9) vs. Ringwood Hawks (17th, 5-10)
Waverley Falcons (7th, 8-6) vs. Southern Sabres (18th, 3-11)

In the women’s competition, Geelong, Bendigo Braves, Knox Raiders and Ringwood Hawks will all be contesting in the finals series, with Dandenong Rangers and Nunawading Spectres all but home and hosed, leaving two spots available from the remaining 12 teams. Of those teams, one can put a line through Diamond Valley Eagles, Launceston Tornadoes, Southern Sabres and Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, with the writing on the wall for Ballarat Rush, Hobart Huskies and Waverley Falcons. Of the sides genuinely battling for a top eight spot, Kilsyth Cobras and Albury Wodonga Bandits hold the crucial seventh and eighth place, with Eltham Wildcats a game behind, while Frankston Blues and Melbourne Tigers sit tenth and eleventh as they try and find a way into the top eight.

Looking ahead to the Round 12 fixtures, it does not get much bigger than Albury Wodonga Bandits hosting Frankston Blues. A loss for the Blues almost certainly means finals is going to be a long shot, dropping three games out of the eight with what will be just four games remaining by the end of the round. In fact, if Albury Wodonga gets up, it will reduce the possible finalists down to as little as nine, if Melbourne Tigers suffer losses down in Tasmania. The Tigers are expected to notch up two wins against the lowly Hobart Huskies and Launceston Tornadoes, but even one loss would all but spell disaster for the Tigers’ finals hopes.

The other big match is between fifth placed Dandenong Rangers – who finally snapped their four-game losing streak with a win last round, up against seventh placed Kilsyth Cobras. A loss for the Rangers could make it tough to secure a double-chance, while a loss to the Wildcats could mean they slip two games outside the eight, and will likely need to win their last four to secure a finals spot. If Ringwood Hawks can hand Nunawading Spectres a loss, then the Hawks will go a long way to booking a double chance, while the Spectres top four hopes will be on the rocks. A win over Knox on Sunday will all but guarantee the Hawks a top four spot, but a win to Knox will see the top three locked up, barring a complete disaster.

Geelong and Bendigo sit pretty at the top of the table and do not have too much to be concerned about, with the Supercats likely to cruise past sixteenth placed Southern Sabres, while the Braves must overcome a desperate Eltham. In other matches, Ballarat Rush host Diamond Valley Eagles on Saturday, before the Eagles host Nunawading on Sunday, while Waverley also hosts Southern Sabres in the final game of the round.

Round 12 fixtures:

Friday, June 28:

Launceston Tornadoes (17th, 3-12) vs. Melbourne Tigers (11th, 6-8)

Saturday, June 29:

Dandenong Rangers (5th, 10-5) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (7th, 9-5)
Southern Sabres (16th, 3-11) vs. Geelong Supercats (1st, 15-1)
Nunawading Spectres (6th, 10-5) vs. Ringwood Hawks (4th, 11-4)
Eltham Wildcats (9th, 7-8) vs. Bendigo Braves (2nd, 14-1)
Hobart Huskies (13th, 5-9) vs. Melbourne Tigers (11th, 6-8)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (8th, 8-7) vs. Frankston Blues (10th, 6-9)
Ballarat Rush (14th, 5-10) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (18th, 2-13)

Sunday, June 30:

Diamond Valley Eagles (18th, 2-13) vs. Nunawading Spectres (6th, 10-5)
Knox Raiders (3rd, 12-3) vs. Ringwood Hawks (4th, 11-4)
Waverley Falcons (12th, 5-9) vs. Southern Sabres (16th, 3-11)

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