Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Hobart Chargers Match Preview Friday 28 July 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Hobart Chargers Match Preview Friday 28 July 2017
The Pioneers will face one of their toughest assignments of the season when they face off against a powerhouse Hobart opponent at the Icehouse on Friday night.
Hobart are currently in contention for top billing in the South Conference and will come to Mount Gambier with revenge on their agenda after falling to the Pioneers in straight sets in last year’s playoff race. The Pioneers may have shifted conferences from last season but the Pioneers-Chargers rivalry has not changed, with both sides looking to set the standard in their respective conferences heading into September.
Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is fully aware of what is at stake in this encounter, stating that “Hobart have one of the most talented groups in the competition and are playing for top spot in the South”. “This is our toughest home test for the regular season” he said. The Pioneers may own an unbeaten home record this season but they will need to find another cog if they are going to emerge victorious against a talent-laden Hobart opponent this week.

The home side will be sweating on the fitness of x-factor Erik Burdon who was unable to take the court last Friday night but such is their depth, they have Jack Madgen waiting in the wings and he has shown that he is of starter calibre with outstanding play in lieu of Burdon. In his first outing as a starter this season, Madgen’s 15 points and 4 rebounds were crucial to the Pioneers cause and he was also able to negate the explosive influence of Deba George after halftime which spurred the Pioneers to victory.

The Chargers have their own personnel concerns with their leading forwards, Tom Garlepp and Mathiang Muo both missing in action in round 16. The Chargers covered their absence against Canberra with ease but the Pioneers present a tougher assignment and they need the offensive power of Garlepp (19.5 ppg) and Muo (22.9 ppg) to muster a winning total. Should Garlepp and/or Muo miss, expect the Pioneers to run their offence through Daniel Alexander and Luke Jamieson more often than not and with both players in red-hot form, the Chargers biggest concern will be interior defence. Jamieson has strung together several strong performances of late and is coming off 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Bandits whilst Alexander continues to impress, averaging 18.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg on the season whilst shooting a lofty 47% from beyond the arc.

There have been no questions about the Pioneers offence this season as they regularly top the century point mark but there will be questions asked of their defence this week as Hobart are known to let it rain from three-point range. According to Coach Hill, “the Chargers are perhaps the best three-point shooting team in the competition, with six players shooting better than 35% from three”. “Our perimeter defence has been very solid over the last half of the season and will need to be at its best on Friday night”. “Chris Whitehead, Robert Heyer and Mathiang Muo are an outstanding perimeter combination and will really test Tom Daly, Erik Burdon (or Jack Madgen) and Brad Hill” stated the Pioneers Coach.

There is no denying the season defining nature of this contest with both sides looking to peak at the business end of the season. This is the Pioneers last home game for the year and they will be looking to finish undefeated at the Icehouse in 2017 before they tackle a tough run of three away matches to conclude the regular season. The Chargers on the other hand are in a logjam with five teams in the East vying for four playoff positions so they have everything to play for.