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NBL1 South Men’s team summary: Ballarat Miners

IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Ballarat Miners will not be competing in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, for those that have chosen not to participate due to the threat, we will instead complete a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021.

2019 in Review:

Finished: 1st (Lost in Preliminary Finals)
Wins: 16
Losses: 4
Home: 7-3
Away: 9-1

What went right:

  • The regular season
  • Jerry Evans Jr making All-Star Five
  • Disciplined (ranked number one for least personal fouls per game, 15.5)
  • Blocking (ranked number one with 5.0 per game)
  • Shared approach with scoring

Whilst the win-loss tally heading into finals might have seen the Miners sit at 16 wins from 20 games, they eased up in the final two matches, dropping them both to Melbourne Tigers and Waverley Falcons at home, meaning technically they were 7-1 at home and 9-1 away prior to those last two games. It was an unusual fixture for the Miners, playing their last eight games at home – including both finals – after spending plenty of time on the road prior to that. There was plenty that went right for the minor premiers throughout the season, looking dominant and the clear team to beat in 2019, ranking first in blocks, as well as least personal fouls per game – and both comfortably too. The Miners committed an average of 15.5 personal fouls per game, and blocked opponent five times thanks to their talls, often denying opponents high scores whilst ranking sixth for points themselves. With six players averaging 10 points or more per game, it was incredibly hard for opposition defenders to try and stop the Miners in the forward half. Leading the way of court was All-Star Five member, Jerry Evans Jr who finished the season with a team-high 18.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

What went wrong:

  • Assists (ranked 15th with 15.3)
  • Preliminary Final first quarter

If the Miners could have one wish from 2019, it would be to start that Preliminary Final again. A disastrous first term at home after a week off saw them sluggish out of the blocks against a Nunawading Spectres side that had to go the long way to the eventual NBL1 Men’s title. The Spectres were just too strong and opened up an eight-point lead at the Miner Dome to stun the home fans, with the likes of Dain Swetalla (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Tom Wright (16 points, seven rebounds) putting on clinics for the Spectres. The Miners were able to arrest the momentum in the second term onwards, but the sides were so evenly matched across the court, the Miners could not bridge the gap and fell seven points short. Their other glaring improvement was their assist category, with just 10 in the final – five of which came from Sam Short. They ranked 15th in the statistic for the season, and had half the assists the Spectres had in that game. While the players often went it alone on the transition, having a playmaker who could set up the plays for teammates would certainly have helped.

Top Players:

Jerry Evans Jr

The oldest member of the team led by example last season, playing in every match and being a scoring machine for the Miners. He averaged the 18.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, shooting at 40.7 per cent from the field. His free-throw shooting was solid with 71.8 per cent, while he sank a third of his three-point attempts. He was not so much a playmaker as he was a proficient scorer, as the forward had less than two assists per game, but had almost two steals per game, showing how he could be damaging if an opposition guard lost concentration on the 208cm giant.

Josh Fox

The man who did all he could in Ballarat’s losing preliminary final, Fox teamed up well with Evans Jr as a starting forward, and recorded a team-high 9.2 rebounds to go with his 11.3 points per game. He also shot at a higher 46.7 field goal percentage, but rarely attempted three-pointers with just 29 per cent of his 31 long-range attempts going in. In the disappointing final, Fox was the top player with 22 points, five rebounds and two assists, shooting at 58.3 per cent from the field and nailing all five of his crucial free-throw attempts.

Kuany Kuany

Working well with Short up the other end of the court, the South Sudanese talent was the most deadly from the field. While his volume was slightly lower than some of his teammates, Kuany still put up a healthy 15.8 points per game, as well as 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals. He averaged almost 50 per cent efficiency from the field, and a solid 36.2 per cent from long range. Kuany finished the season with the fourth highest efficiency rating on the team, and was a crucial member in that starting lineup, playing 21 of a possible 22 games.

Young Gun:

Sam Short

Hard to believe Short was just 21 to start the season, with the 196cm guard being the key playmaker for the side. He averaged far and away the most assists of any player in the side, posting 4.5 per game – as shown in the preliminary final – as well as 11.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He has a lot of time left to develop his game, but Short just ticked a lot of boxes in 2019, and while others might have got the accolades, he showed a real evenness about his game to contribute in multiple ways without going too far.

Christmas list for 2021:

Ballarat Miners would love to add another key playmaker who can set up scoring options in transition. The Miners clearly had no trouble getting to the basket and getting wins, but if there was one thing to learn from the Nunawading loss that was clear, Ballarat could have done with an extra player leading the offensive plays, even if they were not involved in the finishing product. They have the core group to build around, and an extra player who can link the guards and forwards would be the icing on the cake.

Summary:

The Ballarat Miners finished minor premiers. for a reason. They got the job done at home or away, and with the top spot sealed off in the weeks leading up to the finals, could manage their players accordingly and it mattered little that they dropped their last two games. Whether or not the management and thus additional break during the second week of finals impacted the top side is hard to conclude, but the slow start against the Spectres certainly cost them a chance at the title. They will be better for the inaugural season, and while they will not take the court in 2020, will regroup and look to be stronger in 2021.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 1 – Inaugural Throwdown opens season

SEVEN of the National Basketball League (NBL) sides begin their campaign this weekend with Melbourne United having a double-up in Round 1, while Adelaide 36ers and New Zealand Breakers have an extra week of pre-season ahead of their start in Round 2. We take a look at the four games across the weekend with one game on each day to satisfy fans across the country.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Thursday, October 3, 7.30pm
Melbourne Arena

The season opener is the inaugural ‘Throwdown’ between grand finalists, Melbourne United and new team on the block in South East Melbourne Phoenix. United is a proven talent that has lost some serious firepower, but also gained some at the same time which makes them very hard to tip against in the this contest. Melo Trimble made the massive move down south after a dominant season with Cairns, joining the likes of Chris Goulding, Mitch McCarron and the currently injured David Barlow. Shea Ili also crossed from the Breakers, with teammate Shawn Long also making the jump with the pair signing one-year deals. Sam McDaniel earned a full-time roster spot after a good season last year as a development player and continuing that form with the Southern Sabres in the NBL1.

South East Melbourne Phoenix have made it clear they are not in the competition to make up the numbers, with Sydney trio, Dane Pineau, Kyle Adnam and Deng Acuoth all joining the new franchise, with Brisbane’s Adam Gibson and arguably the top signing from the NBL contingent in New Zealand Breakers’ Tai Wesley. Seeing Wesley going head-to-head with Trimble will be great, but the most dangerous player is G-League and Boomers’ star Mitch Creek who tasted National Basketball Association (NBA) action last season and has come home to lead up the new franchise. As already mentioned, it is hard to tip against the established team in United, but with a few question marks over sore players, the Phoenix have more than enough talent to compensate and would love to open their NBL inaugural season with a win.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, October 4, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The Taipans finished last on the NBL table last season and will be keen to start the new season off on the right foot with an upset win over last year’s finalists, Sydney Kings. Playing in front of a home crowd, the Taipans will be without star Trimble who departed to join Melbourne, while Kuany Kuany will suit up for the opposition in this match. The Taipans managed to pinch Majok Deng from Adelaide, while mostly looking outside the country for new recruits with Los Angeles Lakers’ Scott Machado, G-League talent Cameron Oliver and Mirko Djeric from the European leagues coming into the side. They will need to be at their best and gel quickly if they are to make an impact early in the season, but will be able to rely on the likes of Jarrod Kenny, Nathan Jawai and DJ Newbill still running the court.

Sydney have made massive changes to its roster with just four players contracted that were on the list last season. NBL Most Valuable Player (MVP), Andrew Bogut will again be the centrepiece of the organisation, but this time he will have the talented Casper Ware who caused a stir crossing from rivals United to the Kings. Craig Moller joined him, while Shaun Bruce came from the 36ers with Kuany and Lucas Walker travelling south from Cairns. Brad Newley, Kevin Lisch and Daniel Kickert will look to create some stability in a side with the likes of young stars Brian Bowen (NBA) and Tom Wilson (AFL) both leaving the league completely. Despite the changes, Sydney head into this game as strong favourites, it will just be whether or not the Kings can gel with so many fresh faces in the door.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, October 5, 5.30pm
RAC Arena

The match of the round is the Grand Final replay between reigning premiers Perth Wildcats, and unlucky runners-up United. The Wildcats are the most stable side of any team in the competition with eight players re-signed to the list, including crucial duo, Bryce Cotton and Terrico White. The pair will likely renew hostilities with Trimble and Ili who will rep the different colours in 2019/20. The ace in the pace is Dario Hunt who has joined the club from Italy, while Majok Majok transferred from New Zealand Breakers to the Wildcats over the off-season. With such an even team contribution leading to the premiership last season, the Wildcats should be no different in 2019/20 with so many ways to punish the opposition, led by the dominant Cotton.

United will head into this game with a match already in the books having taken on the Phoenix 46 hours prior. They will be keen to make the most of recovery, with the plane trip west likely to bring back some disappointing memories after going down to Perth in the deciding playoff series last year. They could start really strongly as the team that has had the first full game hitout in the round compared to the Wildcats who will undoubtedly celebrate last year’s success in front of the visiting side pre-game. But depending on how the Phoenix game goes, the Wildcats might have the fresher legs to finish the match which means it could be down to the wire. A win against their title nemesis would be crucial in the mental games for the season for Melbourne, while a win for the Wildcats will throw extra salt in the wounds for United. Trimble vs. Cotton is a much-watch battle to see which player can have the most impact for his club.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, October 6, 3pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In the final game of the round, all eyes will be on LaMelo Ball as he makes his NBL debut against Brisbane Bullets at home in Illawarra. The potential 2020 NBA top draft pick will have plenty of exuberance in his first official game on Australian courts, teaming up with the likes of Josh Boone who was a massive recruit from United, while Aaron Brooks has returned after playing with Creek at the Timberwolves in the NBA. David Anderson, Todd Blanchfield, Tim Coenraad and Angus Glover all re-signed for the club that missed out on finals last season, while Sam Froling showed enough during the NBL1 to suggest he will be more than a handful for opposition clubs this season. Kevin White and Brian Conklin are among those who have departed the club, but largely as a whole, the Hawks have brought in far more talent than they have lost.

Brisbane announced a huge signing themselves over the off-season with Nathan Sobey signing on for three years from the 36ers. He will be the man to watch on the court, teaming up with Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee as the key players within the Bullets’ arsenal. Like the Wildcats, they are a settled side with eight players re-signing from last season, as Adam Gibson and Jeremy Kendle were the key players to depart the club. This might be a tight contest given the relative unknown of the impact that the imports and recruits will have for the Hawks, with the Bullets having more of a known quantity. It got them to finals last season, and Sobey coming in will only strengthen the side. The Hawks should be marginally favourites due to the Triple B impact of Ball, Boone and Brooks, but the Bullets will not lie down in this contest.

NBL Season Preview: Sydney Kings

THE Sydney Kings impressed throughout their 2018/2019 campaign, asserting their dominance with commanding wins but not doing enough to make it to the big dance. But with some big off-season recruiting and a relatively stable line-up the Kings could be fan favourites heading into the season.

Position: 3rd
Percentage: 87.07%
Win-loss: 18-10

2018/2019 Overview:
The Kings left no stone unturned throughout last year’s campaign, working hard down the court to create that overlap run and capitalise on the burst down the court. They exploited space in the key, often firing in bounce passes to an open player allowing for an easier shot while also happy to take the three point shot, making them a well-rounded side. Led by veteran Andrew Bogut the Kings were composed with ball in hand and worked it round to force an opening. Bogut was a clear force to be reckoned with off the boards with the 213cm commanding presence completely dominating, averaging a whopping 11.75 rebounds per game with the next closest Brad Newley with 4.64. Jerome Randle was the number one problem for opposition teams with a team-high average of 18.7 points per game, and if he was not putting up the shots he was setting up attempts with 4.26 assists per game proving his worth across the court. Kevin Lisch also plied his trade with an average of 14.15 points per game to add to his 3.22 assists per game while teammate Deng Deng proved to be a certainty with ball in hand sitting at 67 per cent from field goals. The Kings only lost a couple of players at the end of the season with the likes of Tom Wilson switching codes to play with Collingwood in the AFL, while Kyle Adnam has moved to new franchise South Melbourne Phoenix.

Projected shining light:
With an already solid team capable of causing harm with their punishing game play, work off the boards and the addition of Melbourne United recruits Casper Ware and Craig Moller, the Kings could go one better and claim a drought-breaking premiership. Ware is renowned for his hustle and skill to speed down the court and hit the scoreboard with ease, making him a huge pickup for Sydney. Although Moller may not be as flashy as the 177cm guard, he uses his height and general basketball know-how to have an impact on the floorboards and picking off the rebounds. The off-season recruiting of Kuany Kuany could also pay dividends for the Kings with the former Taipans forward making the move down south. His extra height and experience could add to the depth and stability of the line-up and give them that boost to go all the way in 2020.

NBL1 Men’s finals review: Preliminary Finals

IN a remarkable weekend of National Basketball League (NBL)1 action, the top two teams are out of the premiership race with both Ballarat Miners and Frankston Blues defeated at home in the preliminary finals. The Miners exited thanks to a determined Nunawading Spectres who bounced back from a qualifying final loss to Frankston, to earn a spot in the decider. In the other game, Bendigo Braves somehow have made it to the grand final coming from eighth, knocking out the second placed Frankston Blues.

BALLARAT MINERS 18 | 16 | 15 | 19 (68)
NUNAWADING SPECTRES 26 | 15 | 16 | 18 (75)

Nunawading has survived an almighty comeback from minor premiers Ballarat Miners to salute on the road in its preliminary final, and make the 2019 NBL1 Men’s decider. The Spectres lead for practically the entire game, taking the lead midway through the first term and getting out to as much as a 15-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the third term. Nunawading held firm in that term to extend its three quarter time lead out to eight points – the same margin it had been at quarter time. The Miners rallied as you would expect in the final term, as they piled on 11 points to two for the home crowd to get up and about. But the Spectres refused to give in, getting back on top, ad while the Miners had a one-point advantage thanks to a Kuany Kuany lay-up with less than three minutes left to the clock, it was all Nunawading from there, scoring eight of the last nine points to win, 75-68. Dain Swetalla was superb throughout to continue his remarkable finals series, posting 27 points, 10 rebounds and an assist, shooting at 64.3 per cent from the field, as well as making all of his seven free throws. Tom Wright scored 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Simon Conn also reached double figures with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Shane McDonald was the playmaker with nine points and nine assists, while Costa Hronopoulos was prominent near the boards with eight rebounds, as well as four points and three assists. Josh Fox was the top scorer for Ballarat with 22 points, five rebounds and two assists, while Kuany helped himself to 13 points and five rebounds.Sam Short (11 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Jerry Evans Jr (10 points, eight rebounds) were the other two who stood out on the scoring end. Unfortunately for Ballarat, a remarkable season falls one game short of the ultimate decider, while for Nunawading, its dreams of holding up the title remain very much alive.

FRANKSTON BLUES 20 | 10 | 13 | 24 (67)
BENDIGO BRAVES 21 | 23 | 16 | 25 (85)

While the other preliminary final could have gone either way, there was little doubting that Bendigo Braves were deserved winners in their clash on the road with Frankston Blues. The eighth placed side has earned a spot in the 2019 NBL1 decider despite just scraping into eighth and having to have three consecutive road trips during the finals. Travelling to MSAC, Kilsyth and now Frankston held no fears for the Braves who are running on serious adrenaline. The Blues are normally good starters and whilst they did have an old-fashioned arm-wrestle with the Braves in the first term to trail by one point at quarter time, their woes in the middle patches of games – as had been the case in their qualifying final win over Nunawading – came back to bite them as they managed just 23 points to the Braves’ 39 to open up a 17-point lead at the final break. The Blues found their groove again in the final term but it was too little, too late for the home side, losing the term by one and the game by 18 as the Braves advanced through to the grand final in what is one of the great finals stories. Mathiang Muo top scored for the Braves, piling on 25 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Deonte Burton had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in a great all-round game. Ray Turner was enormous defensively, having 13 rebounds – 11 up the defensive end – as well as 16 points and two steals, while Chris Hogan had 13 points and three rebounds in the win. For Frankston, Damon Bozeman was the clear standout with 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, while Igor Hadziomerovic finished with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Najeal Young (11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) also reached double-figure points, as did Daniel Trist off the bench (12 points, seven rebounds). At the end of the day though, it was the remarkable work of Bendigo across the court winning both the rebounding and assists stats, and shooting more comfortably from the field – 45.2 per cent to 35.2 per cent. They now advance through to the grand final against Nunawading.

NBL1 Men’s finals preview: Preliminary Finals

IT is preliminary finals time and just four teams remain in the hunt for the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Men’s title. The top three teams remain, whilst Bendigo Braves are the wildcard side coming from eighth to have a chance at the most unlikely of title runs.

BALLARAT MINERS vs. NUNAWADING SPECTRES
Saturday August 10, 7.30pm
Mars Minerdome

In the first of two massive preliminary finals, we have the sides predicted to be in this fixture with first and third going head-to-head in Ballarat. The Miners have been the standout team of the competition this year, and whilst they did slip a little towards the end of the season with back-to-back losses, the guaranteed minor premiership might have been a relaxant heading into finals. They showed no signs of complacency against fourth placed Kilsyth Cobras in the qualifying final, defeating them as the Cobras headed out of the title race in straight sets. Now the Miners face the third placed Nunawading Spectres, who fell to second placed Frankston Blues in their quarter final clash.

If there is one area that Ballarat had looked vulnerable it was at home, winning eight of 11 matches – which is still incredibly good – but not compared to their road trip record of nine from 10. The Spectres are a high-scoring side who have the capability of putting massive scores on the board. Ranked second overall in the points for race, the defensive aspect is the area that can let the Spectres down, with teams also able to put up big numbers against them. Ballarat on the other hand have no problems scoring – though they average less than Nunawading – but their defensive work is second to none, with still far an away the least points conceded in the competition – 1590 – despite playing an extra game compared to 10 of the sides. The Miners percentage of 108.5 is also exactly 10 per cent more than the Spectres who rank second.

In the first round of the season these sides faced off with Ballarat having to come from five points down at half-time to win the second half by 12 and secure a 94-87 win at Nunawading. They won three of the four quarters in that match, but a second term of 31-16 really let the visitors down. Jerry Evans Jr and Josh Fox both put up 20 points, while Fox also recorded 13 rebounds. Deng Acuoth picked up 10 rebounds himself for the Miners, as Sam Short had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Kuany Kuany had 19 points and six rebounds. For the Spectres, Tom Wright was the man on the points end, posting 25 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Dain Swetalla picked up a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Simon Conn was quieter than usual with just 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, though Shane McDonald managed the 15 points and four assists. The stats were pretty even across the board, but the Miners were better in the defensive attributes, including steals (7-3) and blocks (6-2), but really dominated the rebounding category, picking up 48 rebounds to 33, including 12 offensive rebounds to seven, allowing them to pick up double-chance points.

In this game, the Miners will head in as deserving favourites with a nice balance of point scorers, rebounders and playmakers. Evans Jr had a quiet game last time out against the Cobras, but the likes of Fox and Kuany stepped up in his absence to combine for 36 points and 15 rebounds. Ballarat did record 14 turnovers in the win which is something they might want to watch, but they do record plenty of points off the bench with both Marqueze Coleman and Acuoth proving handy, combining for 32 points and 17 rebounds in the quarter final. If Nunawading can take anything from the game against Frankston, it has to be avoiding a slow start. The Spectres remarkably won three of the four quarters, but went down by 10 points courtesy of a shocking 37-19 term. They also trailed at quarter time against the Supercats, but were able to get it back and steady thanks to a much better second half. If Ballarat starts strong, watch out, where if Nunawading can weather the early storm, they will be best positioned for a chance at glory.

FRANKSTON BLUES vs. BENDIGO BRAVES
Saturday August 10, 7.30pm
Frankston Basketball Stadium

Beware of the underdog is the message that Frankston Blues players will receive this week, as the second placed side faces an opponent they probably would not have expected to face in the third week of finals. The eighth placed Bendigo Braves snuck into the final post-season series spot courtesy of favourable results in the last round, but have made it count with back-to-back finals wins against fifth placed Melbourne Tigers, and fourth placed Kilsyth Cobras. The Blues did not look completely convincing against Nunawading Spectres in the qualifying final after quarter time, but given the lead and the Blues’ ability to do enough to secure the points, they have had the rest that Bendigo has not been afforded due to the eighth placed finish.

In season 2019. Frankston has won eight of 11 home games, and seven of 10 away games, signalling the Blues are comfortable wherever they play on any given day. The Braves have won six of 10 at home and seven of 12 away, but as the past two weeks have shown, regular season form means little once you hit the finals. Frankston have stormed to a massive nine wins on the trot after looking in trouble in the opening month of the season, while Bendigo looked great early, dropped off and then picked up again to win seven of their past 10 games, including their last four. Both teams know how to score, with Frankston being the highest scoring team in the competition, while Bendigo are not too far behind. Defensively, Bendigo is the better side, able to strangle the opposition and try and grind out a low-scoring victory, while Frankston is more than comfortable in a shootout situation. In saying that, Bendigo had to win a 115-104 match against Kilsyth in the semi-final, so the Braves can turn it on if required.

The last time these sides played, Bendigo was on a high and Frankston was struggling, which resulted in the Braves getting the points, 88-73 at home. In that match, Frankston led at quarter time, but the home team took control from there, winning the final three terms to secure the 15-point victory. Matthew Andronicos picked up a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Jake Cowling (19 points, five rebounds), Ray Turner (16 points, four rebounds), Chris Hogan (10 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Deonte Burton (eight points, seven rebounds and eight assists) all shared the load. For Frankston, Damon Bozeman had 19 points and nine rebounds, but it was the starring performance of Majok Majok off the boards, posting 14 points, 15 rebounds and four assists that kept the visitors in the match. Igor Hadziomerovic (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Lachlan Barker (13 points, two rebounds and two assists) also contributed in the loss.

In this game, it will be a similar case to what Kilsyth was supposed to do last week, and the Blues need to stop Ray Turner. He is the number one point-scoring machine and overall star of the side, not to take anything away from the likes of Burton and Muo who have really been key over the season. The pair had big games last week at both ends and across the court, combining for 48 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists, with Burton unstoppable for the match. The key with Turner is his efficiency, shooting at an eye-opening 85 per cent from the field last week which helped him get to 37 points, whilst picking up 12 rebounds. It might be up to Barker or Majok to stop Turner from getting easy looks, with the pair very competent blockers. The big difference with Frankston is the Blues are arguably the best rebounding side when their starting five are out there, as all of them provide a presence around the ring. For Bendigo to win, they have to keep doing what they are doing to get this far, but must be aware of how the Frankston guards are positioned and choose good looks when shooting. Frankston like Ballarat are deserving favourites, but it will be a case of whether or not Bendigo can dig deep and win on the road for a third consecutive final, or if the Blues’ firepower can overrun the Braves.

NBL1 Men’s finals wash-up: Week 1 – Braves upset Tigers as favourites win elsewhere

BENDIGO Braves are through to the semi-finals after the eighth placed side upset fifth placed Melbourne Tigers in an elimination final at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic (MSAC) in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 first week of finals. The Braves will face Kilsyth Cobras who went down to minor premiers Ballarat Miners, whilst in the other semi-final, Nunawading Spectres will host Geelong Supercats.

GEELONG SUPERCATS 32 | 18 | 18 | 17 (85)
DANDENONG RANGERS 13 | 32 | 15 | 19 (79)

Geelong Supercats have kept their NBL1 title dreams alive with a see-sawing six-point win over Dandenong Rangers at home. The Supercats powered to a massive 19-point lead at quarter time, piling on 32 points in a big opening term. Whatever was said at the break must have helped the Rangers as they returned serve with 32 points of their own in the second quarter to cut the deficit to just five at the main break. The Supercats steadied in a lower scoring third term to lead by eight at the final break before holding on despite the away side’s best efforts, to win 85-79. Lewis Thomas posted up 26 points, three rebounds, two assists, four steals and two blocks, while Demarcus Gatlin had 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win. Nick Owusu (16 points, five rebounds) and Anthony Williams (13 points) were also productive on the scoring end. For the losers, Dexter Kernich-Drew posted a team-high 20 points, as well as two rebounds and four steals, but it was Sam Froling who almost hauled his team across the line with 18 points and 16 rebounds – 13 defensive – as well as four blocks. Lucas Barker was creative across the court with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Tim Lang narrowly missed out on a double-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

BALLARAT MINERS 22 | 23 | 20 |15 (80)
KILSYTH COBRAS 21 | 12 | 21 | 12 (66)

Ballarat Miners’ dominant second term of 23 points to 12 set up a 14-point win over a brave Kilsyth Cobras. The Miners move through to the Preliminary Finals after the victory, which saw them win three of the four quarters, but the 11-point second term differential was the ultimate factor in the win. The minor premiers now move through with a week off to play the winner of Nunawading Spectres and Geelong Supercats, while the Cobras face the Bendigo Braves who upset the Melbourne Tigers yesterday. Marqueze Coleman proved the impact bench players can have, coming off the pine to post a game-high 22 points, as well as seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Kuany Kuany (18 points, six rebounds and two steals) contributed strongly, but both Josh Fox (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Deng Acuoth (10 points, 10 rebounds) picked up double-doubles in the victory. For the Cobras, Peter Hooley also had an impact off the bench collecting an equal team-high 16 points, as well as six rebounds – five defensive, while Isaac Turner also collected 16 points. Tohi Smith-Milner was a cause for concern off the boards with 13 points and 11 rebounds – eight defensive.

FRANKSTON BLUES 37 | 27 | 20 | 23 (107)
NUNAWADING SPECTRES 19 | 28 | 23 | 27 (97)

A fast-starting Frankston Blues outfit has set up a huge 10-point win over a fast-finishing Nunawading Spectres side. In one of those rare anomalies, Frankston won just one of the four quarters, but it was a dominant term, piling on 37 points to 19 in the first quarter to race out to an 18-point lead at the first break. From there Nunawading worked its way back into the contest, but could only cut back the deficit by one at the main break, down to 14 by the final break and eventually 10 at the final buzzer to be 107-97 winners at the end. Damon Bozeman was the standout player on the court with 28 points, six rebounds and three assists for Frankston, while Najeal Young had 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Majok Majok (18 points, eight rebounds) and Igor Hadziomerovic (14 points, eight rebounds) were again prolific off the boards. For Nunawading, Tom Wright picked up a team-high 21 points, three rebounds and three assists, whilst Simon Conn (17 points, 13 rebounds and two assists) was massive in trying to get his team across the line. Jack Saunders (15 points) and Costa Hronopoulos (14 points) were important coming off the bench in the loss. Now the Blues move through to the Preliminary Finals with a week off, while Nunawading host Geelong Supercats in the semi-finals.

MELBOURNE TIGERS 21 | 23 | 17 | 15 (76)
BENDIGO BRAVES 15 | 22 | 29 | 20 (86)

Bendigo Braves fairy-tale run continued on the weekend, showing they were far from making up the numbers in the finals series, toppling Melbourne Tigers despite a slow start. The Tigers were well on top at MSAC, an arena they had turned into a fortress since their only loss of the season there – ironically against Bendigo in Round 1 – to lead by six points at the first break and then extend that lead to seven by the major break. The scoring spread of the Braves kicked into gear in the third term as they piled on 29 points to 17 to retake the lead by five points, then they went on with the game in the final term with a 20-15 final quarter to win, 86-76. Ray Turner continued his great season form with 27 points and 15 rebounds, as well as two blocks and a steal. He was far from alone for the Braves however as Mathiang Muo (24 points, five rebounds) and Deonte Burton (20 point, nine rebounds, six assists) were both dominant close to the post. For the Tigers, Nic Pozoglou finished his season off strongly with 21 point, seven rebounds and a steal, while William Hickey and Jack Purchase both finished the game with 19 points and nine rebounds. The result meant Bendigo move through to face Kilsyth Cobras in the semi-finals, while Melbourne Tigers head to the off-season, unable to advance past the first week of finals despite the fifth placed finish.

NBL1 Men’s Round 13 review: Ballarat Miners juggernaut rolls on

THE Ballarat Miners continue to reign supreme in the National Basketball League (NBL)1, showcasing another strong 97-69 win at home against the Geelong Supercats. Despite opening decently in the first term to trail by six, the Supercats’ were let down in the second, with Ballarat increasing their lead to 18 points by the main break. Forward, Joshua Fox came close to a double-double in the win with 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists and 66 per cent shooting from inside the arc. His teammates, Kuany Kuany (23 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Jerry Evans Jr (21 points, seven rebounds and three assists) also impressed at home. For the Supercats, Lewis Thomas led the way, dropping 16 points with eight rebounds and two assists in the loss, but pulled up poorly with his shooting efficiency (6-17). Teammate, DeMarcus Gatlin, also impressed with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists – making up for his team’s poor shooting with 7-11 for the night.

The Geelong Supercats managed to clean up their work on the road in their second outing, defeating the Ringwood Hawks 77-88. The Supercats only conceded the one term in the win, besting the home side comfortably in the opening half. Despite hitting back in the second, Ringwood’s efforts could not get them to the line. As we enter Round 14, the win drops the Supercats in 4th while the Hawks continue to struggle at the bottom in 17th. Cousins was huge in Geelong’s win, earning 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists with a 56 per cent field goal (FG) efficiency. Teammates, Anthony Williams (22 points, three rebounds and four assists), Ma’alo Hicks (11 points and five rebounds) and Thomas (10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) also impressed for Geelong. Matthew Fennel (16 points and eight rebounds) and Adrien Sturt (15 points and eight rebounds) led scoring for Ringwood and protected the paint well. Off the bench, Jacob Gibson and Trevor Latham, impressed with 15 and 13 points respectively – Latham hitting 6-7 from just 18 minutes.

The Ballarat Miners continued to dominate the round with an 89-60 win over the Hobart Huskies at home. The Miners opened with a 28-18 first term before closing their lead out to 13 points at the main break. Hobart pulled closer in the second (17-14) and third terms (19-15) but were blown away in the fourth (25-13) to lose by 29 points. Evans Jr dropped a double-double in victory with 21 points and 11 rebounds – putting him 10th for PPG for the league. Teammates, Deng Acuoth (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists), Sam Short (15 points, three rebounds and eight assists) and Fox (14 points, seven rebound and five assists) also came close to double-doubles but fell short despite impressive numbers. Jalen Adams led for the Huskies with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Tad Dufelmeier followed close on 11 points and seven rebounds. In Hobart’s first game they faced the Kilsyth Cobras at home and won 80-62. Both sides impressed in the opening half, sitting 35-35 at the main break. Though the Huskies proved too good, surging to a 45-27 half to close out the game. Dufelmeier controlled the floor with 22 points, seven rebound and six assists, while Adams hit a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Jacob Richards was also a highlight, hitting 18 points, six rebounds and three assists across 24 minutes. For Kilsyth, Tohi Smith-Milner earned a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, alongside guard, Isaac Turner, who dropped 15 points in the loss.

The Kilsyth Cobras followed up their first loss in Tasmania with an important 81-86 win over the North West Thunder. Despite opening the first half three points better than the visitors, the Thunder’s sub-par third term (16-22) may have cost them the game, with the Cobras shooting clean across four terms (21-21-22-22). Milner came close to a double-double in the win, securing 25 points, nine rebounds and two assists alongside teammate, Turner (24 points), who followed close on the board. The pair were assisted well by guard, Michael Wearne (15 points, four rebounds, five assists), and forward, Chris Patton (14 points, seven rebounds and four assists), opening up the offense with their playmaking ability. In the loss, Jordan Bowling, was immense for the Thunder, dropping 25 points, 13 rebounds and four assists on his way to a double-double. Nicholas Baynard (16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists) and Joseph Chilcott (14 points) were similarly impressive.

In the tightest game of the round, the Frankston Blues come out on top in a 99-98 thriller against the Melbourne Tigers. The game opened in Frankston’s favour, outscoring Melbourne 52-46 in the first half, scoring 50 points from the paint for the game. Melbourne responded well in the second half, scoring 25 points from turnovers, coming extremely close with a 18-27 final term. Igor Hadziomerovic dominated on the board for the Blues, scoring 25 points with three rebounds and five assists, while teammate, Najeal Young, dropped a double-double with 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Damon Bozeman also impressed for the Blues with 18 points and seven rebounds. Michael Wells was unstoppable for the Tigers, scoring 39 points with three rebounds and two assists at 59 per cent FG efficiency. Michael Luxford was also impressive with 23 points, four rebound and three assists, while Nic Pozoglou had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the loss.

Frankston followed up their impressive win over Melbourne with a second over the Southern Sabres (119-92) at home – making it six in a row for Frankston. The Blues blitzed the Sabres in the second term, dropping a massive 38 points to 21 to take a 22-point lead into the half. The Blues dominated in the paint (58-points) and off the fast break (26) but struggled defensively at times, allowing more scores from turnovers (18). The Sabres kept close in the second half but failed to shorten the margin from the second term. Young could not miss for the Blues, dropping 25 points with an 84 per cent FG efficiency, four rebounds and two assists. Bozeman finished similarly with 26 points at 70 per cent FG efficiency, six rebounds and three assists, while Alister Macdonald impressed off the bench with 17 points and four rebounds from 21 minutes. For the Sabres, Samuel Mcdaniel led with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, with David Barlow (13 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Ryan Beisty (12 points and six rebounds) also impressing in the loss.

The Bendigo Braves gain some much-needed separation from the Diamond Valley Eagles with a tight 86-84 win at home. The win puts Bendigo in 7th spot – only one win off 5th, while Diamond Valley place in thirteenth, just win ahead of 16th. Despite the Eagles big second term (21-30), the effort fell short with Bendigo winning the remaining quarters. Ray Turner dominated the game for the Braves, recording a double-double with 31 points, 16 rebounds and three assists, while Mathiang Muo also held his own with 17 points. Logan Hovey recorded a double-double, earning 27 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Eagles, while Anthony Odunsi held up with 17 points. The loss marks Diamond Valley’s third consecutive defeat, worsening their record on the road with two wins and seven losses.

Following the tight affair in Bendigo, the Albury Bandits continue the night with a huge 110-71 win over the Eltham Wildcats. Despite the 39-point margin, the Wildcats kept close in the first term, scoring 25 points to 27. They went on to lose touch in the second (28-12), conceding 20 points from turnovers and 16 points from second chances for the game. Ken-Jah Bosley starred in the win with 31 points, four rebounds and five assists, alongside Torren Jones, who recorded a double-double with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Coming off the bench, Deba George recorded a double-double with 20 points, four rebounds and 13 assists. In the loss, Josh Sykes picked up 21 points and seven rebounds, while guard, Justin Aver, finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Knox Raiders cop a huge 40-point loss (66-106) against the Nunawading Spectres, who were successful in protecting their near-perfect record on the road (8-1-0). The Spectres shut down the game early, scoring 40 points to 15 in the second term to take a 28-point lead into the main break. With 55 points scored from the bench, Lucas Walker recorded a huge double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds, alongside Jack Saunders (12 points) and Andrew Steel (13 points, two rebounds and three assists) who also starred off the bench. Of the starters, Costa Hronpoulos (15 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Simon Conn (14 points and seven rebounds) impressed the most for the Spectres. Mike Rose led for the Raiders with 12 points, three rebounds and four assists – Simon Grant (10 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and James Hunter (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) also impressing.

In the last game of the round the Dandenong Rangers move to sixth on the table following an 82-95 win over the Waverley Falcons. The Falcons did well to cut the margin to five points by the end of the third, but lost touch in the fourth; Dandenong managing 21 points from turnovers and 12 from fast breaks for the game. Dexter Kernich-Drew performed well with 28 points, five rebounds and four assists, alongside Matt Kenyon (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Lucas Barker (12 points, six rebounds and six assists) who also had good games. The Waverley Falcons had big performers in Dylan Travis (24 points, seven rebounds and six assists) and Deondre Mcwhorter (23 points and 12 rebounds). Michael Harper (12 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Bennie Lewis (13 points) also impressed in the loss.

Round 13 results:

Ballarat Miners (97) defeated Geelong Supercats (67)
Hobart Huskies (80) defeated Kilsyth Cobras (62)
North West Thunder (81) defeated by Kilsyth Cobras (86)
Frankston Blues (99) defeated Melbourne Tigers (98)
Bendigo Braves (84) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (82)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (110) defeated Eltham Wildcats (71)
Ballarat Miners (89) defeated Hobart Huskies (60)
Knox Raiders (66) defeated by Nunawading Spectres (106)
Ringwood Hawks (77) defeated by Geelong Supercats (88)
Frankston Blues (119) defeated Southern Sabres (92)
Waverley Falcons (82) defeated by Dandenong Rangers (95)

NBL1 Men’s Round 12 review: Miners lock up double chance

BALLARAT Miners have secured the double chance in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition, moving four and a half games ahead of fifth placed Kilsyth Cobras with just four games remaining. The Cobras do have a game in hand meaning they could theoretically move past the Miners should they win all their games and Ballarat lose all their games, but they face fourth placed Frankston Blues on the run home meaning there is no way the Miners can drop out of the top four. Ballarat made it possible thanks to a narrow six-point win over Diamond Valley Eagles at home. The Miners never had it their own way, trailing by as much as seven points at the final break, before piling on 18 points to five in the final term to run out 79-73 victors. Kuany Kuany topscored with 19 points as well as six assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Josh Fox (12 points and 15 rebounds) and Deng Acuoth (11 points, 11 rebounds) picked up double-doubles and Jerry Evans Jr (14 points, nine rebounds and three assists) was not far off one either. Anthony Odunsi was the standout for the Eagles with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Ben Allen (17 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was also solid for the losing side.

Diamond Valley Eagles had a second loss in a tough fixturing round – playing the top two sides – going down to second placed Nunawading Spectres, 97-109. The Spectres won every quarter, but by no more than five points in a tight contest that saw one of the title contenders prevail well. Tom Wright sank 27 points as well as eight rebounds and three assists for the winners, while Lucas Walker (15 points, nine rebounds), Simon Conn (15 points, eight rebounds) and Dain Swetalla (19 points, six rebounds) were all strong off the boards. Shane McDonald was the playmaker for the side with nine assists to accompany his 10 points and three rebounds in the win. Logan Hovey was a standout for the Eagles, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Matt Reynolds (15 points, four rebounds) and Odunsi (11 points, seven rebounds and five assists) were also productive in defeat. In the Spectres’ other game, they triumphed by three points over Ringwood Hawks in a thriller. Like the Miners, the Spectres were forced to come from behind, trailing by five points at the final break having lost the first three quarters. But as every great side does, Nunawading found a way and broke through for a home victory. Swetalla (19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Conn (18 points, 10 rebounds) picked up double-doubles while Wright had another big game, posting 20 points, three rebounds and four assists in the win. Matthew Fennell (22 points, seven rebounds) and Adrien Sturt (19 points, six rebounds and two blocks) were the best for the losers.

After the narrow loss, Ringwood had to back up against Knox Raiders the next day, but were overwhelmed as the Raiders kept their finals hopes alive in the 114-97 win. Despite a dominant second term by the Hawks which saw them take a five-point lead into the main break, the Raiders had their measure, slamming home 65 points to 43 in a dominant second half performance on their way to a 17-point success. Damon Heuir led the way with 25 points, one of six Raiders to reach double figures as Cadarian Raines (18 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) picked up a double double and Mike Rose (18 points, six rebounds and nine assists) was not far behind. Sturt again impressed for the Hawks in defeat with 24 points and two rebounds, while Fennell picked up a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Jacob Gibson worked hard for 16 points, two rebounds and three assists.

Knox’s finals hopes remained alive thanks to losses to the teams just inside the eight such as Waverley Falcons (now ninth) and Melbourne Tigers (sixth but just half a game in front). The Falcons went down to cellar dwellers Southern Sabres in the final match of the round, losing 77-91. In a dominant last term, the Sabres came from three points down to post 27-10 and run away 91-77 winners. Sam McDaniel (15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, while Rhys Carter (21 points, five rebounds and three assists), Jaden Weldon (14 points) and Callan McDonald (10 points, eight rebounds) were all busy. For the Falcons, Deondre McWhorter‘s double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) caused headaches for the visitors, while Tim Liesting (21 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Dylan Travis (17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) came close to a double-double himself.

The Tigers’ trip down south was not a pleasant one, dropping both games to North West Thunder (eight points) and Hobart Huskies (21 points) to now sit a game off fourth and only half a game inside the top eight. In the Thunder’s loss, the Tigers started strongly to lead by seven points at the first break, but the Thunder pulled back over the next three quarters to draw level by the final buzzer, then finish stronger in overtime scoring 15-7 to win 90-82. Nick Banyard posted 24 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in a massive game, while Jordan Bowling (16 points, 12 rebounds) also picked up a double-double. Kai Woodfall (21 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Reyne Smith (11 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals) were also productive. Mike Wells (23 points, six rebounds and four assists) was impressive for the Tigers, but it was Nic Pozoglou back to his best, posting a double-double of 20 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three steals to tighten the screws on the Thunder. Young star William Hickey helped himself to 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in one of his best games for the year. The Tigers were no match for the Huskies in their clash, as Hobart’s Jalen Adams produced a huge 28-point game, well aided by partner-in-crime Tad Dufelmeier (12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Jacob Richards (13 points, nine rebounds and two assists) off the boards. Pozoglou again looked impressive with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Hickey had 18 points and nine rebounds in defeat.

In one of the most crucial games of the round heading into the weekend, Dandenong Rangers were able to breathe a sigh of relief, defeating Kilsyth Cobras by 11 points at home. The Rangers trailed by a point at half-time but went on with it in the second half courtesy of a 45-33 performance. Lucas Barker (24 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists) was just one rebound off a triple-double, while Dexter Kernich-Drew (21 points, two rebounds) and Matt Kenyon (17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also solid. It was an even performance across the board for the Cobras despite the defeat, with Michael Wearne (17 points, four rebounds), Felix Van Hofe (17 points, five rebounds) and Tohi Smith-Milner (14 points, seven rebounds) all balancing between scoring and rebounding work. The Cobras loss opened the door for the resurgent Frankston who took the opportunity with both hands as they dismissed Albury Wodonga Bandits, 120-105 in a high-scoring contest on the road. In a remarkable final term, the Blues scored a competition-high 41 points in a quarter to race away with the victory. Damon Bozeman recorded an equal game-high 26 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Daniel Trist (15 points, 13 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Igor Hadziomerovic (19 points, five rebounds) and Majok Majok (14 points, eight rebounds and three assists) were also terrific. Torren Jones (26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) was the standout for the Bandits in the loss, while Deba George (24 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals) and Cirkook Riak (19 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) also tried hard throughout.

In the other two games, Geelong Supercats proved too good for Southern Sabres, winning 89-78 thanks to Lewis Thomas (22 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals), Anthony Williams (20 points, two rebounds and five assists), Demarcus Gatlin (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Ma’alo Hicks (14 points, 11 rebounds and two assists). The Sabres’ David Barlow (18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came agonisingly close to a triple-double, while McDaniel was busy again with 17 points and nine rebounds – almost a double-double. Meanwhile Bendigo Braves came from 14 points down at half-time to run out four-point victors on the road against Eltham Wildcats thanks to a 59-41 second half to remain in the eight by half a game. Ray Turner was the difference with 36 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in a huge game for the Braves, well assisted by Mathiang Muo (16 points) and Daniel Hansen (13 points, four rebounds and six assists). Adam Doyle was the top scorer for the Wildcats, finishing with 22 points, seven assists and three rebounds, while Josh Sykes (19 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks) and Geremy McKay (17 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) were their usual impressive selves.

Round 12 results:

North West Thunder 90 defeated Melbourne Tigers 82
Dandenong Rangers 95 defeated Kilsyth Cobras 84
Southern Sabres 78 defeated by Geelong Supercats 89
Nunawading Spectres 99 defeated Ringwood Hawks 96
Albury Wodonga Bandits 105 defeated by Frankston Blues 120
Hobart Huskies 102 defeated Melbourne Tigers 81
Ballarat Miners 79 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 73
Eltham Wildcats 88 defeated by Bendigo Braves 92
Diamond Valley Eagles 97 defeated by Nunawading Spectres 109
Knox Raiders 114 defeated Ringwood Hawks 97
Waverley Falcons 77 defeated by Southern Sabres 91

NBL1 Men’s Round 11 review: Hooley’s triple double sinks Spectres

A TRIPLE-double to Kilsyth Cobras’ Peter Hooley was the highlight of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Round 11 competition, with some surprising results. The Cobras downed Nunawding Spectres by 12 points in what was a forgettable weekend for the visitors, also going down to Waverley Falcons at home. Kilsyth became the first home side to post victory over the Spectres this season, testament to Nunawading’s superior ability to get the job done on the road. The Cobras made sure they had the ascendancy early, taking a nine-point lead into half-time, then extending that by as much as 21 by the final break. The Spectres hit back in the final term to cut the final margin to 12, but it was a case of too little, too late. Hooley was dominant all over the court with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, while Tohi Smith-Milner (26 points, 13 rebounds, three assists), Isaac Turner (13 points, four rebounds) and Michael Wearne (13 points, two rebounds) were also important on the scoring end. For the Spectres, Costa Hronopoulos (25 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Simon Conn (22 points, seven rebounds and two assists) were the two who caused the most headaches for the home side.

Nunawading also suffered a devastating overtime loss to finals-bound Waverley Falcons, going down 101-94. The teams could not be split at the full-time buzzer after the Spectres remarkably came back from 15 points down at the main break to claw their way back and draw level. It was the Falcons who found the momentum in extra time, scoring 15 points to eight in the seven-point victory. Deondre McWhorter (33 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Dylan Travis (26 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) were dominant, while Bennie Lewis (15 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks) was everywhere. For the Spectres, Conn had another superb game with 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Hronopoulos (21 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Ben Ayre (20 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three steals) all found plenty of buckets on the attacking end. The day before, Waverley went down to a determined Diamond Valley Eagles side, 99-94. Trailing by as much as 14 points at the main break, the Falcons hit back in the second half, but could not force their way in front, going down by five points. Joel Spear was the star for the Eagles with 32 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals), while Logan Hovey (26 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Anthony Odunsi (18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals) were also prominent from a scoring perspective. McWhorter was best on court in the loss, posting a mammoth 37 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Lewis (24 points, three rebounds and four assists) was able to contribute on the scoring end as was Tim Liesting (six points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) off the defensive board.

A team that had a mixed weekend of results Ringwood Hawks, went down to Eltham Wildcats by 28 points, before securing a narrow seven-point win over Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE). The Wildcats proved a bit too strong at home against the Hawks, winning all four quarters on their way to a 107-89 triumph. Adam Doyle was excellent for the home side, registering 31 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Geremy McKay helped himself to 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the win. Ben Waldren (17 points), Dave Schaffert (17 points, two rebounds and three assists) and Josh Sykes (11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks) also reached double-figure points in the victory. Adrien Sturt was the top scorer for Ringwood with 15 points, as well as four rebounds and two assists, while Shaun Clarke had 10 points and nine rebounds in a strong effort. In an even better performance, the Hawks toppled the CoE by seven points, having built up a 13-point lead at the main break, before holding on to eventually get home, 101-94. Sturt posted a round-high 42 points, as well as six rebounds and six assists, shooting at an impressive 66.7 per cent from the field, and 85.7 per cent from three-point range. Joey Miller (20 points, four rebounds, eight assists and three steals) and Matthew Fennell (17 points, six rebounds and two steals) were the other two notable scorers. Josh Bannan led the way for the CoE, finishing with 26 points, five rebounds, eight assists and four steals, while Angus Glover helped himself to 21 points, and Hunter Clarke finished with 17. Meanwhile the day before, Melbourne Tigers knocked off the CoE, 96-61 in a convincing victory. Mike Wells led the points scoring for the Tigers with 19, as well as four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Dave Pineau (15 points, nine rebounds), Michael Luxford (15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) and Nic Pozoglou (seven points, 16 rebounds and six teals) were impressive off the boards. For the CoE, Clarke was the dominant scorer with 16 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Bannan had another 11 rebounds, and Kian Dennis shot 14 points and had three rebounds, three assists and two steals.

In the other game on Sunday, top-of-the-table Ballarat Miners moved three games clear on top thanks to a 10-point win over Albury Wodonga Bandits. Jerry Evans Jr had another day out with 28 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Kuany Kuany (20 points, three rebounds and three assists), Josh Fox (15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Deng Acuoth (seven points, 10 rebounds and four blocks) all worked hard in the victory. For the Bandits, Cirkook Riak managed 26 points and six rebounds, Deba George helped himself to 23 points, four rebounds and a game-high nine assists, while Torren Jones picked up a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. There was some celebration over the weekend for the Bandits however, knocking off Southern Sabres by 23 points on the road. Jones (31 points, 17 rebounds and two steals) picked up another double-double, while partner-in-crime Ken-Jah Bosley posted 30 points, three rebounds and three steals. George was the other dominant scorer with 26 points, three rebounds, eight assists and two steals. In the Sabres loss, it was the usual duo of David Barlow (25 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Sam McDaniel (21 points, four rebounds and two steals) who were among their best.

A team that maintained its percentage lead over the Bandits was Hobart Huskies, who knocked off Knox Raiders on Friday night in a three-point thriller. The Huskies came from 13 points down at quarter time to storm to the front in the third term and lead by three at the final break before a topsy-turvy final term saw that deficit remain by the final buzzer. Tad Dufelmeier posted 23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Jalen Adams (17 points, eight rebounds), Zachary White (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Jack Stanwix (17 points, three rebounds and three assists) were also busy in the match. Adam Thoseby (25 points) led the way for the Raiders, while James Hunter picked up a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, as did Cadarian Raines, registering 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Raiders rebounded from the loss to the Huskies to knock off the other Tasmanian side in North West Thunder, getting up by 13 points. Thoseby again top scored with 22 points and six rebounds, while Raines (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Hunter (10 points, 12 rebounds) picked up double-doubles in the second game as well. Lachlan Dent (12 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals) was solid for the Thunder, while Jordan Bowling (16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals) was the losing side’s best. The Thunder was returning from an unsuccessful trip to Geelong on the Friday night, going down to the Supercats by five points in a gallant effort. The Thunder shocked the home crowd to lead by 11 points at quarter time, but by the main break, the Supercats were up by three in a change of fortunes. That margin was five by the final break and it was enough to see them hold on by that margin with an even final term. Ma’alo Hicks had 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals in the win, while Lewis Thorne (18 points, 11 rebounds picked up a double-double) and Demarcus Gatlin (nine points, six rebounds and six assists) played an all-round game. Bowling again top scored for the Thunder with 19 points as well as seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Nick Banyard (16 points, nine rebounds) and Joseph Chilcott (15 points, seven rebounds and two steals) were also productive in defeat.

In the other game over the weekend, Frankston Blues got up over Dandenong Rangers by 12 points, knocking their neighbouring rivals down to eighth, and now sit just percentage outside the top four in a remarkable season revival. Lachlan Barker scored 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals, while Daniel Trist (18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals), Najeal Young (15 points, nine rebounds and two steals) and Damon Bozeman (16 points, two rebounds and four assists) were all impressive for the Blues. Matt Kenyon (19 points, four rebounds and three assists) led the way for the Rangers, while Lucas Barker (15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals), Tim Lang (14 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Dexter Kernich-Drew (10 points, 10 rebounds) were others who stood up despite the defeat.

Round 11:

Geelong Supercats 79 defeated North West Thunder 74
Hobart Huskies 89 defeated Knox Raiders 86
Melbourne Tigers 96 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 61
Southern Sabres 84 defeated by Albury Wodonga Bandits 107
Dandenong Rangers 82 defeated by Frankston Blues 94*
Diamond Valley Eagles 99 defeated Waverley Falcons 94
Bendigo Braves 84 defeated by Ballarat Miners 88
Kilsyth Cobras 99 defeated Nunawading Spectres 87
North West Thunder 61 defeated by Knox Raiders 74
Eltham Wildcats 107 defeated Ringwood Hawks 89
Ballarat Miners 103 defeated Albury Wodonga Bandits 93
Ringwood Hawks 101 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 94
Nunawading Spectres 94 defeated by Waverley Falcons 101

NBL1 mid-season review: Ballarat Miners/Rush

IN the mid-season break, Basketball Draft Central takes a look at each National Basketball League (NBL)1 team in both the men’s and women’s competition and will analyse how they have performed to date, some of their top performers, and the run home to see if they can make finals. Today we analyse the Ballarat Miners and Ballarat Rush, with the Miners on top of the table and title favourites, while the Rush might rue a slow start to the season with an uphill battle to make finals.

Men:

Position: 1st
Wins: 10
Losses: 2

Home: 3-1
Away: 7-1
Last 10: 8-2

Points For: 1127
Points Against: 907
Percentage: 124.3
Points: 30

Summary:

The Ballarat Miners have emerged as the team to beat this season, sitting on top of the NBL1 Men’s table with 10 wins from 12 games. With 11 wins likely enough to make finals, Ballarat are all but home already despite dropping its two games in the past month. They had been undefeated on the road until slipping up in Round 9 against Frankston Blues, but retain the best defence in the league with just 907 points conceded (75.6 points per game) and the best offence of those having played 12 games or less (93.9 points per game). Jerry Evans Jr is a key reason behind the offensive scoring capability of the Miners, who is averaging 20.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. After Evans Jr, the Miners have an even core of contributors with Kuany Kuany (17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists), Sam Short (12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals), Deng Acuoth (10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals) and Josh Fox (9.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists) all impacting in every game. Marqueze Coleman (16.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 steals) has also been superb off the bench for the Miners.

The run home:

R10: Geelong Supercats (A)
R11: Bendigo Braves (A) | Albury Wodonga Bandits (H)
R12: Diamond Valley Eagles (H)
R13: Geelong Supercats (H) | Hobart Huskies (H)
R14: Waverley Falcons (H)
R15: Melbourne Tigers (H)

The Miners will be pleased to have 10 wins on the board so far, with a tough draw in the run home. They have just one bottom six side (Albury Wodonga Bandits) in the home stretch, with two games against title contenders Geelong Supercats, and one against top four side Melbourne Tigers. The other matches against sides ranked ninth to twelfth on the ladder with extra at stake as they try and push into the finals spots.

Women:

Position: 12th
Wins: 5
Losses: 7

Home: 2-2
Away: 3-5
Last 10: 5-5

Points For: 952
Points Against: 966
Percentage: 98.6
Points: 15

Summary:

The Ballarat Rush are likely to rue a poor start to the season, losing the first six games before going on a remarkable five-game winning streak. They were stopped by the hands of Ringwood Hawks on the weekend, before winning against a side in similar form in Frankston Blues. While the past month has been impressive, it will take a massive effort to make finals, and while they are just two games off the pace, they have a horror run home that will require their best each and every week. Olivia Hackmann has been a shining light for the Rush, averaging 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while Hsi-le Bao has been another who has started in every game as one of the best centers in the competition, averaging 12.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Others who have stepped up coming off the bench while starting at least half a dozen times are Chanise Jenkins (14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.3 steals) and Georgia Amoore (12.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals.

The run home:

R10: Geelong Supercats (A)
R11: Bendigo Braves (A) | Albury Wodonga Bandits (H)
R12: Diamond Valley Eagles (H)
R13: Geelong Supercats (H) | Hobart Huskies (H)
R14: Waverley Falcons (H)
R15: Melbourne Tigers (H)

The Rush have an unenviable run home with two games against top-of-the-table Geelong Supercats, and a road trip against second placed Bendigo Braves. It means the game against ninth placed Albury Wodonga Bandits is a must win, with a loss all but ending their finals hopes. They will start favourites against Diamond Valley Eagles, Hobart Huskies and Waverley Falcons, but will have their work cut out for them against Melbourne Tigers in the final round, with the Rush likely to need to win six of their remaining eight – including finding a win against one of the top two sides.