SEABL Grand Final

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Dandenong Rangers National Final Match Preview Saturday 2 Sept 2017
The 2017 SEABL season reaches its pinnacle this Saturday night when the Mount Gambier Pioneers and Dandenong Rangers face off in Kilsyth for the ultimate prize, the national championship.
Both sides barely emerged from their respective conference finals with both matches being decided in the final seconds of the contest. The Pioneers snuck home by three points against Nunawading after Dain Swetalla missed a three-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime. Dandenong on the other hand had an even tighter finish with Jorden Page hitting a three-pointer to send the game into overtime before the Rangers got the better of Ballarat and closed the game out by eight points in the extra period.
The two sides split their season series with the Pioneers winning on their home court by seven points and the Rangers returning serve with victory in their arena way back on June 18 by 14 points. A lot of water has passed under the bridge for both sides since their last meeting and Pioneers Coach Richard Hill agrees, stating that “our road loss to the Rangers seems like an eternity ago and they have changed a lot since then”. Hill knows his side faces an uphill battle and believes “Dandenong are a very talented and deep team, winning 12 of their last 15 games to come out of what ended up being a very strong South Conference”. “Adding Garrett Jackson has given them a very potent offensive unit whilst not losing much at the defensive end”.
The Pioneers strongest weapon this season has been their own talent and depth across all positions allowing them to consolidate a lead when the second unit is deployed and maintain a high level of intensity throughout four quarters of basketball. Big games call for big performances and the Pioneers will be once again looking to its big three of Tom Daly, Brad Hill and Daniel Alexander to get the job done.
Daly was exceptional against the Spectres last week with a whopping 21 points and 11 assists that kept the Pioneers in the contest. Brad Hill was the hero in the semifinal against Nunawading with 29 points (7-11 3P) at 58% but soon became the villain in the conference final putting up just nine points at 36.4% shooting. Hill is a key part of the Pioneers setup because he can score from anywhere on the floor and rebound with intensity, making him a two-way threat and a nightmare for Rangers Coach Darren Perry.
Daniel Alexander is the Pioneers most valuable player but he didn’t live up to the title on the offensive end last week and that needs to change. Alexander may have eventually compiled a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds but he missed his first five shots and would go on to fire 3-12 from the field at 25% for the game. Alexander may have won the match for the Pioneers last week with his heroic rebound and clutch free throws but he did go missing for extended periods of time and must put in a 40-minute effort this week if the Pioneers are going to avenge their 2013 national final loss to the Rangers.
The Rangers will be looking to their own big three of point guard Lucas Barker, shooting guard Chauncey Orr and small forward Garrett Jackson to provide the nucleus of a memorable victory. Each of these players have produced solid numbers this season with Barker putting up 14.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 5.4 apg, Orr adding 14.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.1 apg and Jackson has come on strong with 17.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 1.5 apg on the season. Barker will take Daly to task and stretch the Pioneers captain on defence, Orr will relish the challenge of running Erik Burdon off the three-point line and Garrett Jackson will be looking to play a three/stretch four position and push Brad Hill’s limits on both ends of the court. Add to that the very real triple threat of Jorden Page who put up four last quarter treys to win the game for his side last week and you have a serious offensive force to be reckoned with.
With the Rangers boasting such offensive weaponry, Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is clearly aware that tough defensive application is crucial for his side, stating that “interior defence and rebounding will be key for us”. Both sides had tough conference final matchups but the Pioneers do have the added advantage of an additional day’s break and this could prove a decisive factor as time winds down in the final moments of season 2017. Coach Hill believes his side will be “better for the tough clash with Nunawading and will be in good shape come game time”. Coach Hill sums up the contest perfectly when he states that Saturday night will feature “two outstanding teams in good form on a neutral court which should provide a great final”. If the conference finals are any indication, this match is going to be another epic encounter with neither side willing to back down in the pursuit of the ultimate prize.