Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Kilsyth Cobras Match Preview Report Friday 26th May 2017
Game night looms large on Friday night as the Pioneers face off against the Kilsyth Cobras with Pioneers stalwart and favourite son, Matt “Suttsy” Sutton celebrating his 200th game in the green and black. Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is looking forward to the milestone game stating that “Matt Sutton’s 200th game adds a little spice to the contest and I am confident our guys will be up for this game”.
The Pioneers overcame a slow start last week to eventually dismantle a defenceless Frankston side and will need to play four quarters of quality basketball this week if they are to take the points. Kilsyth are having an up and down season (5-6) but are on the verge of the top four in the East Conference and despite winning just two of their last five encounters, they are a force to be reckoned with. Coach Hill sums it up perfectly when he states that “Kilsyth are on the cusp of the Eastern conference finals and are dangerous opponents” and the Pioneers will really need to do their homework this week given the huge turnover in the Cobras personnel from last season. Hill has been earning every dollar this week in his research of this unknown Kilsyth opponent and mentions that he is “unsure of what to expect as Kilsyth had 3 starters missing last week who should return and a new import in the wings”.
Those three starters include the big names of Chris Patton, Owen Odigie and Nelson Kirksey whose absence was largely felt as the Cobras fell on the road to the ever improving Ballarat Miners. Kirksey was the Cobras highly touted marquee point guard but average performances and team restructuring led to his departure. Club management are currently engaging in talks with several US and European players to find a replacement with no word as to whether Kirksey’s replacement will front up at the Icehouse on Friday night. Patton’s injury concerns place him in doubt for Friday night but Odigie should be a certain starter given that his NBL commitments with Melbourne United in China have concluded.
Should they all play, the Cobras have a stacked front court with Chris Patton, Auryn MacMillan and Owen Odigie capable of devastating any front court in the league. Coach Hill recognises the challenge that awaits his side, stating that “Patton, MacMillan, and Odigie is a big and versatile front court that will provide a huge challenge for us”. Daniel Alexander rebounded back to form in sensational fashion last Friday night, singlehandedly turning the match on its head late in the second term before going on to accumulate 27 points, 16 rebounds and a place on the Round 8 SEABL Team of the Week. Alexander will need quality support from fellow big men in Luke Jamieson and John Jones if they are going to win the battle on the interior.
The Pioneers major strength will be at the guard positions with young star and Kilsyth regular Kyle Adnam opting to have a season away from the SEABL to pursue other interests and Nelson Kirksey being dismissed from the team. The Pioneers will look to gain an advantage through Tom Daly who played facilitator last week dishing out 11 assists and although his scoring has been on a downward trend, this is a non-factor if he can register double-digits in dimes. Erik Burdon has had a relatively quiet first half of the season and is due for a big night out and this Friday might just be his night given the lack of guard depth on the current Cobras roster.
There is no doubting that this game will be on a knife’s edge for most of the evening and it will take an x-factor performance to determine the outcome. The home side will be hoping that Jack Madgen continues his stellar early season form which saw him hit a career best 15 points and 6 rebounds against Frankston last week despite limited minutes from the bench. Madgen brings a tough defensive approach that is complimented by quality outside shooting and intensity in the paint and should he replicate the feats of last week, it could well be curtains for the Cobras. Kilsyth will be relying on Tariq Naqqash to have another big game following his 17 points and 4 rebounds which when compared to his season averages of 7.5ppg and 2.1rpg shows the difference he can provide when given ample opportunity. Naqqash may have done enough to earn another run with the starting lineup which will only create further concerns for Pioneers Coach Richard Hill.
Matt Sutton has been a key contributor to the Pioneers success during his eight years with the franchise and 200 games is no small feat given what he has achieved in the process. As Captain, Sutton led the Pioneers to four straight South Conference championships for two national championships and together with Coach Richard Hill turned the Pioneers from cellar dwellers into consistent championship contenders. Get to the game early, bring your number 13 jerseys and celebrate a player that has poured his heart and soul into the Mount Gambier Pioneers.