Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Hobart Chargers Match Preview Friday 5 August 2017
The Mount Gambier Pioneers will meet the Hobart Chargers on Friday night in what could be a preview to the national championship final. The Pioneers have already secured two home finals whilst Hobart will be chasing the double chance this weekend and must win this encounter to leap frog Ballarat into second place.
The schedule has not been the Pioneers friend this season as they must endure a three-game road trip to finish the season. A second meeting with Hobart within a week is an anomaly of the fixture but it will give both sides the opportunity to prepare for the post-season against a high-quality opponent. Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is wary of the Chargers challenge stating that the game is “a quick turnaround and another challenge for us against a very good Hobart team that is desperate to win”. “They have a top two spot on the line so the stakes are high”. “Our aim will be to continue to improve as a group and this is a great opportunity to test ourselves on the road”.
The Pioneers offence has been one of their major strengths this season as they regularly top the century mark and often have 4-6 players scoring in double digits each week. But they will meet their match this week against a Hobart side that has deadly shooters across the floor who can run hot and stay hot for extended periods. According to Coach Hill, “Hobart are a high powered offensive team”. “Amazingly on Saturday against a good Sandringham side and without Tom Garlepp they had three players score 86 of their 98 points”. “They have enormous firepower so our depth will be tested again”.
The Chargers three-point brigade of Chris Whitehead, Rob Heyer and Mathiang Muo were well defended at the Ice House on Friday night but they still managed to score at 43% from distance. Whilst that is a great conversion rate, Sandringham allowed the trio to score at an unbelievable 67% just one night later. Running the trio off the three-point line will be the order of the day from Coach Hill who believes that his side’s “ability to defend the three-point line will probably determine the outcome of the match”.
The Chargers gave the Pioneers a huge scare on Friday night and will be an even tougher opponent on their home court. Had it not been for Tom Daly’s last quarter heroics where he put the team on his back for 14 fourth quarter points, the Pioneers would have struggled to get across the line. Daly’s role is once again crucial and he has been earmarked by Coach Hill who feels that “Daly will need to be at his best to match Chris Whitehead who is in great form scoring the ball”. “Whitehead is averaging 27 ppg across their last three games and was a headache for us last week”.
At this stage of the season there is no room for complacency and the Pioneers cannot rest on their 20-2 win-loss season laurels or they will be humbled by a strong Hobart opponent. With finals basketball just one week away this match is the perfect tune-up for the type of cutthroat basketball that will present itself as season 2017 reaches its pinnacle.