Tag: tom wright

2021 NBL1 South Men’s: Round 15

IT was a long time between drinks with the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South put on hold due to Victoria’s snap lockdown. But the competition all picked up where it left off, with teams coming out with a point to prove in Round 15 as the competition starts to heat up.

There was one battle that went right down to the wire in Round 15 as Nunawading Spectres and Geelong fought it out until the dying stages of the game. Only two points separated them at the final siren as the Spectres claimed an almighty comeback win, 85-83. It was a tale of two halves as the Supercats had the momentum in the opening half and then lost their rhythm in the second.

Geelong were firing on all cylinders in the opening term as Isaac Turner made his intentions clear opening his account with a triple. However it did not take long for the Spectres to answer the call and quickly level proceedings as it turned into somewhat of a shootout. Both sides were trading points as the lead swung back and forth before Geelong kicked things up a gear. A couple of handy substitutions gave them some fresh legs out on court as they powered home in the final five minutes of the term to blow the lead out to seven at quarter time.

The Spectres were not about to back down from the challenge as they wasted no time hitting the scoreboard in the second to eat into the deficit. A seven point differential quickly turned into a two point deficit with Jack Gandolfo proving to be the man for the job. But every time Nunawading got within striking distance the Supercats found a way to pull ahead and create some scoreboard separation heading into half time up by a handy five points.

The third quarter is where the script was completely flipped as the Spectres levelled the scores within the first minute of the term. From there on out, the Spectres monopolised the play with their increase in defence and offence enabling them to establish dominance. Everything started to fall their way as the Supercats were forced onto the back foot and struggled to find an answer for their opponents’ new found confidence. Holding a four-point lead heading into the final stanza, the Spectres were eager to ride out the game in style but Geelong had other plans getting back within two points in the early stages of the quarter. Nunawading were able to counter everything that was thrown at them, weathering the storm nicely to secure a hard-fought two-point win.

Tom Wright was a key cog for the Spectres draining 22 points at 73 per cent from the field while his accuracy from down town was also impressive as he registered three triples from four attempts. He also finished with four rebounds, six assists and one steal. Teammate Andrew Steel was also in hot form posting 16 points in his 31 minutes on court while also racking up three rebounds in the win. Simon Conn fell just short of a double-double with his 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Dain Swetalla quietened down after the first half but still managed 10 points and eight rebounds.

Turner was the main man for the Supercats as he topscored with 22 points at 57 per cent from the field. He also collected one rebound, four assists and a steal in the narrow loss. Owen Odigie was the next best with his 14 points at 80 per cent from the field while also reeling in six rebounds as teammate Jack Macdonald got busy with his 11 points, two rebounds and two assists. Shea Ili managed a handy 10 points in his 34 minutes on court while also finishing with three rebounds, four assists and two steals. George Blagojevic found his rhythm sinking 10 points and nine rebounds in a solid performance.

The second placed Frankston Blues asserted themselves against Sandringham Sabres in a convincing performance while Knox Raiders blew the Melbourne Tigers out of the water with a romping 49-point win. The Miners got over the top of the Wildcats while in the battle of the birds it was the Diamond Valley Eagles that reigned supreme against the Ringwood Hawks, as Kilsyth Cobras toppled the Rangers while Bendigo Braves handed Ballarat their second loss for the season.

Round 15 results:

Geelong Supercats (90) defeated Bendigo Braves (80)
Knox Raiders (124) defeated Melbourne Tigers (75)
Ballarat Miners (86) defeated Eltham Wildcats (76)
Ringwood Hawks (88) defeated by Diamond Valley Eagles (97)
Kilsyth Cobras (83) defeated Dandenong Rangers (71)
Bendigo Braves (84) defeated Ballarat Miners (71)
Waverley Falcons (89) defeated Ringwood Hawks (82)
Sandringham Sabres (73) defeated Frankston Blues (91)
Nunawading Spectres (85) defeated Geelong Supercats (83)

Photo credit: Ian Knight Photography

NBL1 South Men’s: Round 2 wrap – Miners split results on Apple Isle

ROUND 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South men’s competition took place over the weekend, with Frankston Blues grabbing back-to-back wins and Ballarat Miners having a mixed bag down in Tasmania.

Bendigo Braves (73) def. by Frankston Blues (94)

Frankston Blues have set up a memorable 21-point win thanks to a fast start on the road against Bendigo Braves. The Blues piled on 54 points to 31 in the opening two quarters to lead by 23 at half-time. The Braves were much better after half-time and even won the final term, but the damage was done, going down 94-73. Lachlan Barker racked up 26 points with seven long-range makes, while Alister MacDonald had the four triples on his way to 14 points, three rebounds and two assists. Dillon Stith (15 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals) was influential across the court, while David Andersen (14 points, seven rebounds) used his experience to advantage. Ray Turner was the pick of the Braves, recording 13 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while Brennan Rymer (11 points, six assists and four steals) and Javaan Mumtaz (10 points, three assists) were solid.

Hobart Chargers (81) def. Ballarat Miners (77)

Hobart Chargers have held on in a thrilling contest to defeat Ballarat Miners by four points last Friday night. The Chargers got away to a five-point lead at quarter time which was cut to three by the main break. The home team put it back out to five points at the last change, with the Miners only able to claw back one point in the final term. Koen Sapwell (26 points, three rebounds) and Jonathan Mines (25 points, three rebounds and two blocks), went haywire from long-range, making 11 of 18 from beyond the arc. Jack Stanwix (11 points, five assists and three steals) and Jacob Richards (10 points, seven rebounds and three assists) were the other key scorers for the Chargers. William Hickey knocked down 23 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals in the loss, while Deng Acuoth picked up 15 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double effort. William Hynes (11 points, four rebounds) and Daniel Joyce (11 points, five rebounds and four assists) were the others to contribute strongly across multiple facets of the game.

North West Tasmania (71) def. by Ballarat Miners (74)

Immediately bouncing back from their Friday night loss, the Miners were forced into another close one with a Tasmanian opponent, this time coming away with an overtime. The teams were locked at 67 points apiece after four quarters following a late Thunder fightback, but the Miners stepped up in overtime, with a Matt Kenyon jumper with five seconds on the clock winning his side the match. Kenyon was the standout player on the court, racking up 27 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Jock Perry (15 points, seven rebounds) and Acuoth (12 points, nine rebounds) were also lively at both ends. For the Thunder, Paul Campbell top-scored with 18 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Sejr Deans (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Taran Armstrong (nine points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals) were steadfast in defeat.

Frankston Blues (110) def. Dandenong Rangers (76)

Making it back-to-back wins in Round 2, Frankston Blues easily took care of Dandenong Ranges. The Blues stormed to a 65-38 lead at half-time, and by the final break held a 38-point advantage. Dandenong won the last term to cut the final margin to 34 points, but the damage was well and truly done by that stage. Andersen picked up 24 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Stith managed the 20 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Barker also feasted on points with 23 in total, as well as five assists, two rebounds and two steals, with Thomas Garrett the other Blues player to reach double-figure points thanks to his 14 and four rebounds. For the Rangers, Declan Soukup had 19 points – five of six from long-range – and four assists, while Sean Macdonald (13 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Oliver Hayes-Brown (12 points, 13 rebounds) both impacted the match.

Knox Raiders (72) def. Kilsyth Cobras (63)

Knox Raiders were able to power away from Kilsyth Cobras in the final term to record a memorable nine-point victory in front of home fans. The Raiders trailed by a point at the last change, but then got to work with a strong defensive effort of 19-9 in the last quarter to run out 72-63 winners. Dylan Hare top-scored with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists, while Abraham Nyok (14 points, seven rebounds), Bul Kuol (13 points, three rebounds and two steals) and Ben Ayre (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) all picked up double-figure points in the win. A double-double from Timothy Lang (16 points, 12 rebounds) was the highlight for the Cobras, while Adrian Tomada (14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals), Ben Ursich (13 points, six rebounds) and Deng Riak (10 points, eight rebounds) were the other quality players on the night.

Sandringham Sabres (90) def. by Mt Gambier Pioneers (122)

South Australia’s first win in the NBL1 South competition came when Mt Gambier Pioneers took out Sandringham Sabres by 32 points on Saturday night. The Pioneers piled on 64 points to 45 in the opening half to all but set up the win, though they went on with it too, winning the third term by 13 points, and securing the 122-90 victory. Duom Dawam (32 points, 16 rebounds and three assists) was unstoppable across the court, while Thomas Daly (25 points, five assists and four rebounds), Tom Kubank (19 points, five rebounds and three steals) and Nick Marshall (10 points, five rebounds and two assists) were others who stepped up in the victory. For the Sabres, Kuany Kuany was the standout shooter with a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals. Tom O’Brien (15 points, three assists and two rebounds), Nicholas Gabsch (12 points, six rebounds) and Brody Nunn (14 points, two rebounds and two steals) were the other Sabres who impressed despite the heavy loss.

Eltham Wildcats (76) def. by Diamond Valley Eagles (79)

Diamond Valley Eagles picked up their second consecutive win with a tight three-point victory over Eltham Wildcats. The Eagles trailed by three points at quarter time and five points at the main break, before hitting the front with a 17-11 third term, and then holding on with a 19-17 final quarter for the 79-76 triumph. Darcy Harding was the top scorer with 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists, well supported by Blacio Owili (16 points, seven rebounds) and Ngor Manyang (15 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two assists). Matt Reynolds only had the five points, but picked up 11 assists in a creative effort. The Wildcats had a few contributors as well, with Justin Aver (20 points, two rebounds and two steals) leading the scoring, but Ovie Magbegor picking up the double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds. Adam Doyle (13 points, seven assists and two rebounds) was also an impressive performer despite the loss.

Albury-Wodonga Bandits (102) def. by Melbourne Tigers (107)

A telling final term set up Melbourne Tigers for a high-scoring five-point win over Albury-Wodonga Bandits on the road. Both teams offences were ticking on the night, and despite the Bandits leading by two points at the final break, the Tigers finished the match stronger, adding 28 points to 21 to win, 107-102. Felix von Hofe had a night out with 33 points, four rebounds and two assists, but he was far from alone, with Anthony Karabatsos (15 points, seven assists and four rebounds), Dogukan Elyazar (14 points, four rebounds) and Keenan Willie (nine points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals) among the outstanding performers for the Tigers. Mitchell Dance picked up 28 points and nine rebounds in the loss, while Bijan Johnson (21 points, nine assists, five rebounds and three steals), Sharif Watson (16 points, nine rebounds and two steals) and Jack Saunders (15 points, six rebounds and two assists) were all strong.

Ringwood Hawks (81) def. by Geelong Supercats (85)

Geelong Supercats have posted a nail-biting four-point win over Ringwood Hawks thanks to a dominant third quarter. Despite not winning any of the other three terms, and trailing by nine points at the half, the Supercats piled on 29 points to 12 in the third quarter, setting them up for an 85-81 win. Isaac Turner was huge from beyond the arc with five of 11, on his way to 35 points, three rebounds and two assists. Mawut Macar Deng (15 points, six rebounds), Liam McInerney (11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) and Jack Macdonald (14 points – four of eight from long-range – four assists and two steals) were also impressive. The Hawks were led by the damaging duo of Adrien Sturt (23 points, 12 rebounds and two steals) and CJ Asuncion-Byrd (27 points, four rebounds and three assists), while Jack Barry (11 points, seven rebounds) and Shaun Clarke (11 points, four rebounds) were also solid on the day.

Nunawading Spectres (96) def. Sandringham Sabres (61)

A strong start from the home team helped propel Nunawading Spectres to victory over Sandringham Sabres, handing the visitors their second loss of the weekend. The Spectres poured on 31 points to 14 in the opening quarter, then did it again in the third with 31 points to 10, which created the separation required for the 96-61 thumping. Tom Wright led the way with 29 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals, while Simon Conn came close to a double-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Costa Hronopoulos (13 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Jack Gandolfo (12 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals) were others who stepped up to help the cause. Kuany was again a lone-hand in terms of scoring, racking up a ridiculous 24 points and 17 rebounds, as well as four assists. Clancy Bird (10 points) was the only other scorer of note, as the Sabres were smashed across most facets of the game.

Waverley Falcons (79) def. Diamond Valley Eagles (72)

Waverley Falcons ended the run of the Diamond Valley Eagles at two, by saluting in a seven-point game. The Falcons led by 10 points at quarter time, but then found themselves trailing by a point at the main break. The second half swung back in the home team’s favour, winning both quarters by four points to get up, 79-72. Bennie Lewis put up 27 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Jake Heath (18 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals), Michael Harper (13 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Durrell McDonald (11 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals) also had impressive efforts. For the Eagles, Owili managed the 23 points and 11 rebounds in a standalone effort, while Manyang picked up 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.

Picture credit: Rodney Turton

2021 NBL1 South preview: Round 2

ROUND 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL) South tips off from tomorrow night, with our two feature games being the Frankston Blues up against Dandenong Ranges on Saturday (women’s) and Nunawading Specres locking horns with Sandringham Sabres on Sunday (men’s).

WOMEN’S:

An early clash between two local rivals sees Frankston Blues up against Dandenong Rangers at Frankston Basketball Stadium from 5:30pm on Saturday evening. At the start of the round both these teams come in undefeated, though a Friday night clash with Bendigo Braves could change that for the Blues, in one of four all-undefeated clashes. The Blues are fresh off a hard-fought win over Nunawading Spectres by 12 points, whilst the Rangers got away with a 14-point victory over Diamond Valley Eagles on the road in Round 1.

In the Blues’ win, WNBL duo Darcee Garbin and Tessa Lavey caused all sorts of headaches for the Spectres, combining for 53 of the teams’ 90 points on the night. Garbin had a match-high 30 points, shooting 11 of 16 from the field, but crucially a whopping six of eight from long-range. She also picked up six rebounds and thee assists for her troubles. Lavey, coming off an AFLW season with Richmond, did not miss a beat with 23 points – three of eight from three-point range – seven rebounds and nine assists, not too far off an almost triple-double let alone a double-double.

Taylah Gilliam (11 points, two rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (eight points, six rebounds) also proved capable of causing trouble for the opposition. Statistically the Blues dominated the assist tally with 21-10, as most of the other stats were fairly even, though hitting more than half of their long-range attempts was crucial, as the Spectres only managed three of 20 compared to the Blues’ 18 of 35.

The Rangers always looked in control against the Eagles at Community Bank Stadium, as Emilee Harmon picked up a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds, as well as two steals. Able to crash the boards, Harmon teamed up well with rising star talent Gemma Potter. The youngster racked up a double-double herself of 14 points and 13 rebounds, as well as five assists, three steals and two blocks in the win. Tenaya Sooalo (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Kodie Myszka (seven points, four rebounds and two steals) were others who stood out.

The Rangers led the way in rebounds with a plus-seven in that statistical area, something they will be keen to apply here again. They were not a huge three-point shooting outfit, though made the most of it with six of 17 makes. They need to improve their work from the charity stripe, finishing Round 1 with a 50 per cent efficiency, but the visitors still got away with the win. It will be a focus if they are to take down the Blues on their home court.

The other two undefeated clashes see Knox Raiders hosting Kilsyth Cobras, and Launceston Tornadoes up against Ballarat Rush. After each team played the one game in Round 1, a number of sides will double up, with the Rush also taking on Hobart Chargers in a weekend down in Tasmania, while the Diamond Valley Eagles will hope to pick up their first win against either Eltham Wildcats or Waverley Falcons on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Sandringham Sabres have two chances to pick up another win after going 1-0 in Round 1, taking on Mt Gambier Pioneers and then travelling to take on Nunawading Spectres. In the other two matches, Albury Wodonga Bandits host Melbourne Tigers, and Ringwood Hawks face Geelong Supercats in two battles between sides yet to taste victory this season.

FIXTURES:

Bendigo Braves (1-0) vs. Frankston Blues (1-0)
Hobart Chargers (0-1) vs. Ballarat Rush (1-0)
Frankston Blues (1-0) vs. Dandenong Rangers (1-0)
Knox Raiders (1-0) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (1-0)
Sandringham Sabres (1-0) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-1)
Eltham Wildcats (1-0) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-1)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (0-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (0-1)
Ringwood Hawks (0-1) vs. Geelong Supercats (0-1)
Launceston Tornadoes (1-0) vs. Ballarat Rush (1-0)
Nunawading Spectres (0-1) vs. Sandringham Sabres (1-0)
Waverley Falcons (0-1) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (0-1)

MEN’S:

There are plenty of blockbuster fixtures to pick from when it comes to match of the round, but this week we take a look at the Sunday head-to-head between Nunawading Spectres and Sandringham Sabres who both won their first round encounters. The Sabres opened the NBL1 competition with a thrilling three-point win over Melbourne Tigers on the road, while the Spectres got up by 11 points over Frankston Blues in a similar tough challenge heading down to bayside.

The Sabres did the bulk of their good work early against the Tigers at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre, as the visitors piled on 50 points to 38 in the opening half, before the Tigers roared to life, scoring 56 to 47. No doubt while the 97-94 victory was a relief, the Sabres will want more of the first half, and less of the second half in the Round 2 clash with the Spectres. The Sabres dominated the rebounds with 51-38 in that game, but struggled with transition, picking up eight assists – though in a low assist game of 10-8 – and only had two steals to the Tigers’ 10. They made it count from the field however, shooting 47.2 per cent, including 43.8 per cent from long-range, and only missing one of 16 free throws.

The points were shared around in an even spread as Kuany Kuany (20 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Nicholas Gabsch (18 points, eight rebounds and two assists) both came close to a double-double. Tom O’Brien was handy with 17 points – including seven of eight from the field – also picking up two rebounds and two assists. Kobe Davies was the other player to reach double-figure points, knocking down three of five from long-range to finish with 13 points and three rebounds.

By comparison the Spectres held firm across four quarters against the Blues to come from three points down at quarter time to lead by two at half-time, then run away with an 11-point lead by the final buzzer. The full scores and individual statistics are still unavailable at this stage, but Dain Swetalla was well on his way to a double-double alongside partner-in-crime Simon Conn. The pair will make life difficult for the opposition teams this year, while Costas Hronopoulos and Tom Wright are among the other Spectres to keep an eye on.

The Spectres should be a strong rebounding team, and will look to get plenty of points in the paint, backing themselves to nail the free-throw opportunities. They can move the ball in transition, with their stars able to stuff the stats sheet on their day, and Nunawading has enough depth to share the load, particularly in front of a home crowd.

Casting the eye across other fixtures, the Sabres have an earlier home fixture against Mt Gambier Pioneers, meaning the Spectres will come in the fresher side. Diamond Valley Eagles also do the double after winning their Round 1 match, coming up against two Round 1 losers in Eltham Wildcats and Waverley Falcons. After a thrilling one-point win in Round 1, Kilsyth Cobras travel to Knox Raiders, while the winless pairing of Frankston Blues – who take on Bendigo Braves tomorrow night – and Dandenong Rangers looms as a must-watch.

Ballarat Miners head to the Apple Isle to face Hobart Chargers tomorrow night, before a big clash with North West Tasmania on Saturday. The Melbourne Tigers make the trek to the border to take on Albury Wodonga Bandits, while in the final game, Ringwood Hawks host Geelong Supercats in another all-undefeated clash on Saturday.

FIXTURES:

Bendigo Braves (1-0) vs. Frankston Blues (0-1)
Hobart Chargers (0-1) vs. Ballarat Miners (1-0)
North West Tasmania (1-0) vs. Ballarat Miners (1-0)
Frankston Blues (0-1) vs. Dandenong Rangers (0-1)
Knox Raiders (0-1) vs. Kilsyth Cobras (1-0)
Sandringham Sabres (1-0) vs. Mt Gambier Pioneers (0-1)
Eltham Wildcats (0-1) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (1-0)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (0-1) vs. Melbourne Tigers (0-1)
Ringwood Hawks (1-0) vs. Geelong Supercats (1-0)
Nunawading Spectres (1-0) vs. Sandringham Sabres (1-0)
Waverley Falcons (0-1) vs. Diamond Valley Eagles (1-0)

Picture credit: Frankston Blues

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.

Nunawading Spectres claim inaugural NBL1 Men’s title

NUNAWADING Spectres have claimed the 2019 National Basketball League (NBL)1 Men’s title, defeating a gallant Bendigo Braves by nine points on Saturday night. It was a remarkable game that had more twists and turns than an Edgar Allan Poe novel, and whilst both teams had chances to take out the title, it was the higher ranked team that got the job done.

Both sides started the game trading blows, with Nunawading hitting the front when Tom Wright sank a three-pointer at the seven and a half minute mark of the first term, but 12 of the next 16 points went the way of the Braves to extend the lead out to seven with less than five minutes remaining in the term. Nunawading fought back again to cut the deficit to two a minute later, before Bendigo piled on the points to go on a 14-2 run to end the term. A Chris Hogan triple and a Mathiang Muo stepback jump shot – the latter in the final three seconds of the quarter – handed the eighth placed side a handy lead at the break.

The 14-point margin would be eaten into by the Spectres with Nunawading piling on 15-8 to start the term, before back-to-back triples from Deonte Burton extended the margin back out to 13. The lead was still 10 points when Muo sank two free throws with three minutes remaining in the half, but it was fitting that by the time Wright had nailed another triple himself, scores were level. The half-time buzzer sounded with both teams back where they started – level – having both scored 53 points apiece in the first half.

The teams again traded blows early, and while Ray Turner put the Braves in front by two with a layup in the opening few minutes, it would be the last time Bendigo held the lead for the game. Nunawading shot 15 points to two over the course of the next four and a half minutes to lead by 11 with just over three minutes on the clock. Burton came to the much needed rescue with an opportunity to put it back to six points, but the last seven points of the term went the way of the Spectres for Nunawading to hold a 77-64 lead at the final break.

A couple of triples to Hogan and Muo in the opening few minutes separated by a Simon Conn jumpshot had the Braves back to within nine, but by the time Conn had nailed a triple with just under eight minutes remaining, the Spectres were out to a game-high 14-point lead. Bendigo refused to give in with Burton again doing his best – a layup coming timely with less than four minutes remaining and six points the margin. When Muo sank a triple there was 103 seconds left in the final and the crowd was fever-pitch in anticipation. It was game on. Both Dain Swetalla and Conn added to the total to give the Spectres a seven-point breather, but a Turner layup with 52 seconds left cut it back to five to give the Braves hope. Alas, it was Swetalla again who stood tall, converting a lay-up and then two free-throws before the final buzzer to hand Nunawading a memorable, 99-90 victory.

Swetalla was the star in the win, picking up 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists, well aided by Wright who made six of 11 from long-range on his way to 24 points, three rebounds and four assists. Conn had 15 points and five rebounds, shooting at an efficient 62.5 per cent from the field, while Costa Hronopoulos picked up a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, as did Shane McDonald who was the playmaker thanks to 12 points and 10 assists. Turner and Burton had a team-high 24 points apiece, while Turner also had nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks, as Burton helped himself to five rebounds and five assists. Muo (23 points, five rebounds and two steals) and Hogan (15 points, two rebounds) were also prominent.

NBL1 Men’s Grand Final preview: Nunawading Spectres vs. Bendigo Braves

AFTER 23 games apiece, the two sides destined to fight it out for the 2019 National Basketball League (NBL)1 Men’s title have bee decided. Nunawading Spectres and Bendigo Braves will go head-to-head at the State Basketball Centre on Saturday night to determine which team lifts the inaugural NBL1 title.

Nunawading on face value start favourites, having finished inside the top four and won 16 of a possible 23 games. They went down to Frankston Blues in the opening final, before the Spectres worked their way back to dismiss premiership favourites Ballarat Miners and secure a spot in the decider. Bendigo’s road to the final was vastly different. They secured a finals spot courtesy of Waverley slipping up in the final round during their trip to Tasmania, with the Braves taking full advantage and sneaking into eighth spot on the table. It was all they needed to set themselves up with a half-chance because they took it and have since knocked over fifth, fourth and second on the table, with an eye to downing the third placed side in this one.

In terms of win-loss records, Nunawading won six of 11 at home, with 10 from 12 on the road, meaning the Spectres were more formidable as a visiting group. The Braves were fairly even, having won six from 10 at home, not too dissimilar to the five from 10 on the road – a record they increased to eight from 13 in the past three weeks. The Spectres average 91.7 points per game, while concede 84.4 points to their opposition. For the Braves, those numbers are 85.9 and 82.5 – a little lower on both accounts. The stats also tell a story of how the Spectres should be favourites, leading in all the key statistical areas bar blocks – and marginally shaded in steals – when it comes to comparing starting line-ups. But symbolic of blocks being a strength for the Braves, it has also told a story of the finals series, with the Braves denying their opposition despite all the numbers telling otherwise.

If form is an indicator, it is almost impossible to tip against Bendigo because of the momentum the Braves have built, and the fact they were able to knock over Frankston on the road – a feat Nunawading was unable to do two weeks earlier. In saying that, the Spectres were able to dismantle Ballarat Miners, an achievement that looked near-impossible 18 games into the season. The big difference between the teams is Nunawading have an even balance of players who can shoot, rebound and assist, while Bendigo have a genuine star in Ray Turner – who has continually got the job done – as well as a couple of handy players to assist in Deonte Burton and Mathiang Muo. Simon Conn, Dain Swetalla and Tom Wright have all pieced together really consistent seasons, with Costa Hronopoulos being a crucial key fourth player in that side. Shane McDonald might not score as much as the others, but with a massive average of 7.1 assists, he sets the team up.

STATS:

NUNAWADING SPECTRES:

Simon Conn | 19.0 PPG | 10.0 RPG | 2.1 APG | 0.7 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 53.1 FG%
Shane McDonald | 8.9 PPG | 3.1 RPG | 7.1 APG | 0.6 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 41.1 FG%
Dain Swetalla | 17.5 PPG | 9.1 RPG | 2.2 APG | 0.8 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 53.9 FG%
Costa Hronopoulos | 10.2 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 2.4 APG | 0.7 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 51.9 FG%
Tom Wright | 17.8 PPG | 4.1 RPG | 3.7 APG | 0.9 SPG | 0.2 BPG | 44.5 FG%

BENDIGO BRAVES:

Ray Turner | 23.4 PPG | 12.5 RPB | 1.8 APG | 1.1 SPG | 1.3 BPG | 57.2 FG%
Chris Hogan | 6.6 PPG | 3.9 RPG | 2.1 APG | 0.4 SPG | 0.0 BPG | 34.4 FG%
Deonte Burton | 14.1 PPG | 5.3 RPG | 5.6 APG | 1.3 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 46.3 FG%
Daniel Hansen | 7.2 PPG | 2.9 RPG | 2.2 APG | 0.6 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 37.1 FG%
Mathiang Muo | 20.3 PPG | 5.3 RPG | 2.0 APG | 0.4 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 48.8 FG%

STARTING LINE-UPS COMPARISON: NUNAWADING | BENDIGO

Points: 73.4 | 71.6
Rebounds: 31.0 | 29.9
Assists: 17.5 | 13.7
Steals: 3.7 | 3.8
Blocks: 1.2 | 2.4
Field Goal %: 48.9 | 44.8

KEY QUESTIONS:

1. Can Nunawading stop the momentum Bendigo has been building?
2. Will a sixth successive road trip tire the Braves?
3. Will Simon Conn be able to restrict the work of Ray Turner and have more of an influence on the game at the same time?

SUMMARY:

Nunawading Spectres should be the team to beat in this game. If you look at how each of the starting 10 players have performed this year, the Spectres have five of the top eight because their fifth player often contributes more than some team’s third or certainly fourth players. Turner has the ability to create something special and while he is not a passer, that is how Burton fits into the mix for the Braves. We will tip the Spectres because of the consistency across the board, but Bendigo have been the underdogs in every game and there is just something brewing there with the potential to remarkably win the title from eighth spot.

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 review: Semi-Finals

TWO tight contests decided the remaining two preliminary finalists with Nunawading Spectres getting up over Geelong Falcons, and Bendigo Braves continuing the run from eighth spot to down Kilsyth Cobras and move through to the final four. Ballarat Miners and Frankston Blues are waiting respectively for their opponents next weekend to determine the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Men’s decider.

NUNAWADING SPECTRES 23 | 16 | 24 | 19 (82)
GEELONG SUPERCATS 30 | 18 | 12 | 16 (76)

Nunawading Spectres have made it through to a Preliminary Final to face Ballarat Miners after a come-from-behind six-point victory over Geelong Supercats. The Supercats opened the scoring with a 30-23 first term, then extended the lead to nine by the main break to give the visiting fans some hope of an upset. But soon the crowd was up and about as Nunawading clicked into gear, posting 24 points to 12 in the third term to regain the lead and the momentum heading into the final quarter. They continued that momentum into the last to score 19-16 and win 82-76 in a thrilling contest. Simon Conn posted a game-high 21 points as well as nine rebounds and two assists, while Dain Swetalla picked up a double-double thanks to 16 points and 11 rebounds. Tom Wright (18 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Lucas Walker (17 points, eight rebounds) were also impressive in the win. Geelong had its own spread of scorers, with Lewis Thomas (16 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Ma’alo Hicks (16 points, nine rebounds) the top scorers for the Supercats. Demarcus Gatlin stepped up for a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Nick Owusu finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

KILSYTH COBRAS 18 | 27 | 18 | 41 (104)
BENDIGO BRAVES 33 | 22 | 25 | 35 (115)

Bendigo Braves further established themselves as a genuine title contender despite finishing in eighth spot, overpowering Kilsyth Cobras to send the fourth placed side out in straight sets. The Braves dominated the first term to lead by 15 points at quarter time, before Kilsyth hit back to cut the deficit back to 10, before it went back out to 17 by the last change. Despite a ridiculously high scoring final term which resulted in 76 points combined on the board, it would be Kilsyth who won the battle (41-35), but Bendigo that won the war with a 115-104 victory. Ray Turner could not be tamed with a remarkable 37 points and 12 rebounds, while teammate Deonte Burton was not far behind with 24 points and 12 defensive rebounds, as well as eight assists in the massive upset. Mathiang Muo scored 24 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Daniel Hansen also reached double figures with a stat line of 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. For the Cobras, Isaac Turner posted a team-high 33 points, as well as two rebounds and two steals, while Felix Van Hofe (14 points, five rebounds) and Sean MacDonald (14 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals) both assisted with scoring, as did Chris Patton (13 points, four rebounds). Now the Braves face Frankston Blues in the Preliminary Final for a spot in the decider.

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.