Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Albury-Wodonga Bandits Match Preview Friday 21st July 2017
The Pioneers return to the more familiar surrounds of the Ice House this Friday night when they look to take on a dangerous Albury-Wodonga outfit intent on causing an upset. Two landslide victories against Canberra and BACOE last weekend have ensured the Pioneers are sitting comfortably on top of the East Conference but the Bandits will be a far greater challenge and will take the game right up to the Pioneers from the outset.
Albury-Wodonga ended a five-game losing streak when they dominated an in-form Ballarat opponent by 11 points in the last round and in doing so have kept their post-season chances alive with a 9-11 win-loss ratio. According to Pioneers Coach Richard Hill, “the Bandits are a team that looks to have its act together and are one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the competition so we will need to be at our best defensively”. He mentioned that “Deba George is a unique offensive talent and when paired with last week’s player of the week in James Thomas Terrell it gives the Bandits a great perimeter tandem”. Coach Hill is also wary of the front court threat posed by TJ Robinson who he views as “perhaps the league’s most consistent big guy and someone who will provide our front court with a huge challenge”.
Erik Burdon will get the start on Deba George and he will need the support of his teammates to provide additional pressure on the in-form guard who is currently averaging 19.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 7.5 apg. Jack Madgen has been in red-hot form of late and his impact from the bench at the two spot will be telling. Should Madgen continue his strong defensive presence of recent weeks and hit the scoreboard with such impact like he has in recent times then it will go a long way towards securing victory for the Pioneers.
Terrell had somewhat of an inconsistent season before he truly hit his straps against Ballarat in his last outing where he put up 35 points and 5 rebounds. Brad Hill will go toe for toe with Terrell at the wing in what will be one of the most intriguing matchups of the season. Hill has performed strongly in recent weeks, averaging 20 points, 9.25 rebounds and 5.25 assists across his last four appearances. The winner of this battle will be the player who can execute most effectively on a two-way basis. Hill is renowned for not only shooting strongly but for hustling back on defence and regaining the ball off the glass, often against the opposition’s front court. If Terrell can maintain pace with Hill at both ends of the court by executing on offence and outgunning Hill on defence then it will set his side up for a strong offensive surge which could well cause an upset.
Luke Jamieson was the match winner against BACOE in the last round, putting up 24 points and 8 rebounds and he did it when his side needed him with Daniel Alexander being well held. Jamieson has had a difficult season but he has turned things around across his last four outings to put up an average of 17.25 points and 7.5 rebounds, figures which outpoint his season averages of 10.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Jamieson will need his recent run of quality form to continue because he is up against one of the league’s most talented big men in TJ Robinson this week. Robinson is quite simply in beast mode this season, putting up the gaudy stat line of 22.6 ppg and 13.5 rpg to date. Perhaps the scariest stat for the Pioneers is that Robinson has scored a double-double in every contest so far this season and they have been massive double-doubles at that. It will take a concerted effort from all three Pioneers big men across every minute of the match to ensure Robinson does not find free space inside the paint. Winning the battle against Robinson will go a long way towards the Pioneers winning the war against the Bandits.
Both teams will be putting everything on the line in this match because as Coach Hill states ” the stakes are high because there is a playoff berth on the line for them and top spot within reach for us”. Neither side can afford to slip up at this late stage of the season because every contest from here on out has significant impact on the formation of the final four. The Pioneers will be gunning for two home finals whilst the Bandits have no choice but to keep winning because they are tied in a three-way battle with Sandringham and Kilsyth for fourth placing in the East.
The night will focus on championing the cause of eliminating suicide in rural Australia and the Pioneers will be wearing limited edition Lifeline themed jerseys that will be auctioned on the night to raise funds for the incredible work of Lifeline in the community. Make sure to get to the game early for the jersey auction and come prepared to give towards such a worthy cause.