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Pioneers vs Geelong Supercats Match Preview Friday 23rd June 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Geelong Supercats Match Preview Friday 23rd June 2017

Geelong head to town this Friday night looking for redemption against a Pioneers side that took all before them last Saturday night, defeating the Supercats on their home court by a resounding 23 points. Pioneers Coach Richard Hill believes the season schedule is “a very interesting scenario, we have a 5 month season and play Geelong twice in 6 days”. The Pioneers will need to be on their game because Geelong are a very dangerous side, they are placed third in the East Conference, they have a score to settle from the last round and they have winning history at the Icehouse in recent times.

Coach Hill is wary of the threat Geelong poses, stating that “this will be a challenge, they are the last team to defeat us at home when Gatlin and Herbert combined for 61 points. Our perimeter defence will need to be at its stingy best if we are to win”. The Pioneers’ perimeter defence was on point last Saturday night with a team effort getting the job done, with only Nathan Freind getting off the chain for the only three triples of the evening for Geelong late in the game.

Despite their success against the Supercats last weekend, the Pioneers were far from impressive against Dandenong in the second half of their road trip and will have their own point to prove that they are the real deal this season and capable of winning the big contests. The Pioneers got a taste of their own medicine against the Rangers with each of their starters scoring in double figures, a trait often reserved for the limestone coast lineup. The Pioneers continue to struggle for impact at the five position with John Jones and Luke Jamieson combining for just 8 points and 8 rebounds on Sunday afternoon. It appears to be the only position where the Pioneers are lacking production and Daniel Alexander needs that support from his fellow big men to put unrelenting pressure on the opposition in the paint.

The key matchup this week will be the showdown between Tom Daly and DeMarcus Gatlin. In the last round, there was nothing to separate the two point guards from a stats perspective with Daly putting up 23 points and 3 rebounds and Gatlin adding 22 points and 8 rebounds. However, from a shooting percentage point of view, Daly won the day with 61.5% to Gatlin’s 35%, a gulf so vast that Daly clearly had the better run courtesy of quality ball from his teammates.

Another tight tussle to observe will be the faceoff at the power forward position with Daniel Alexander and Ma’alo Hicks set to go toe-to-toe for the majority of the evening. Hicks came off the bench to put up 16 points and 10 rebounds against the Pioneers in the last round and is known as a rebounding machine, so it will take a combined effort from the Pioneers big men to contain him. Alexander may be the more consistent performer of the two but Hicks has the ability to wreak havoc on the interior and on his night, there is not too many power forwards in the league that can contain him. Ash Cannan may have received the start for Geelong at the four position in the last round but his 5 points and 6 rebounds in 22:17 minutes was below par, so don’t be surprised if Geelong use more of Hicks this week.

Brad Hill has taken flight in the last month following his slow start to the season and his 18 point, 11 rebound effort against the Supercats in the last round was arguably his best performance so far this season. Hill will once again go up against his former Adelaide 36ers teammate in Nathan Herbert this week and given Herbert’s paltry return of 4 points and 5 rebounds in his last outing against Hill, expect the 32-year old veteran to exact his revenge.

Turnovers have been the Pioneers achilles heel this season and Coach Hill is looking for his side’s “ball security to be much better than it’s been the last month” heading into this match. The Pioneers not only beat the Supercats on the scoreboard in the last round but they also beat them on the turnover count (15-13), a trend that has become far too common this season. Taking care of the basketball must be the Pioneers number one priority because a team such as Geelong will make you pay for your mistakes more often than not.

The Pioneers will be buoyed by the return of their spiritual leader, Matt Sutton this week following a brief lay-off with a hamstring injury. Despite his playing time dwindling in his twilight years, “Suttsy” is the locker room guy who the Pioneers count on in tough times and his experience will be an added bonus for the Pioneers this week.

No doubt the Supercats will return to the drawing board and re-analyse their approach with Coach Hill “expecting some changes to Geelong’s plan of attack and we will need to make the necessary adjustments”. Whether Geelong can bounce back within six days after such a devastating loss at home remains to be seen but once thing is certain and that is the Pioneers need to be aware of the wounded Supercats because they will come out all guns blazing on Friday night in what is building as a season defining contest for both sides.

Pioneers vs Geelong Supercats Match Preview Saturday 17th June








Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Geelong Supercats Match Preview Saturday 17th June

The battle for East Conference supremacy heats up this weekend with the top ranked Pioneers taking on the third placed Geelong Supercats at their house in the match of the round. Both sides would have enjoyed a week’s break over the long weekend and will both be ready and raring to go come tip off on Saturday night.

Both sides are coming off a confidence building three game winning streak and the outcome of this match could well determine who finishes in the top two placings in the East Conference and secures home court advantage in the playoffs. According to Pioneers Coach Richard Hill, his “group is really looking forward to the challenge because Geelong in Geelong is one of the sternest tests in the SEABL”.

The Pioneers were less than impressive against an undermanned Sandringham outfit in their last outing and although they cruised to a 15-point victory they were made to work every step of the way. Daniel Alexander has been the centre of MVP talks during the week and the Pioneers will be banking on a MVP type performance this week if the visitors are going to get the job done. Brad Hill’s return to form in recent weeks has been pleasing and Pioneers fans will be hoping he continues to shoot the hot hand with a scintillating 61.5% shooting in his last outing now considered the benchmark for future performances.

Tom Daly has been the one constant for the Pioneers this season with his gaudy stats of 17.5ppg, 4.0rpg and 4.8apg proof that the Pioneers captain is truly leading from the front. That consistency will need to continue if the Pioneers are going to get the job done because DeMarcus Gatlin looms large as his opposite number with his stats of 19.9ppg, 8.3rpg and 3.7apg a daunting prospect. Gatlin has been devastating at both ends of the court so far this season and the Pioneers will need all the help they can get because the former Sam Houston State University talent has the ability to demolish his opposition in a heartbeat.

Nathan Herbert provides an additional threat to the visiting Pioneers, with the veteran capable of filling it up from either the two or the three position and he will need to be closely attended to by Erik Burdon, Brad Hill and company for the duration of the evening. Herbert has the ability to light it up from long range with a three-point shooting percentage of 42.7% so far this season, a major concern for the Pioneers defence. The Pioneers have been well-served by their own three-point specialist in recent weeks with Erik Burdon making it look Eze with his average of 41.3% from distance proving pivotal to the Pioneers success. It is one thing to have the range but it is another thing to have the clutch shot and Burdon has both, proving time and again that he can make the shot that is needed to influence the contest.

Coach Hill is aware of the threat that Herbert and Gatlin pose, stating that “Herbert and Gatlin are combining for 40ppg and hurt us there last season, our perimeter defence will need to be at its best”.

The battle of the bigs will be a major influence on the contest with Daniel Alexander facing off against Ma’alo Hicks and Luke Jamieson and John Jones sharing the minutes at the five against star import Eric Gaff. Alexander has been the backbone of the Pioneers success so far this season, with his two-way play and epic dunking a sight to behold for Pioneers fans. But he will not have it all his own way as Hicks is averaging a near double-double (10.3ppg and 9.5rpg) for the season with a high of 18 boards against the Sabres in round five, proof of his potential. The five position has been concerning for the Pioneers so far this season with neither Jamieson or Jones able to stake a claim on starting minutes. It appears that Coach Hill is leaning towards Jamieson given the 32 minutes he played against the Sabres in the last outing but this could quickly change should a matchup require a shift in the starting lineup. On paper, Jamieson clearly has better numbers than Gaff so far this season but as we know matches are won on the court and not in previous box scores. If Jones can provide adequate cover off the bench and perform a quality rim-protecting role, the Pioneers will be in good shape heading towards the finish line.

Coach Hill is aware of the danger posed by the Supercats, stating, “I believe three of the best teams in the competition are in the East Conference and Geelong is one of those. Head to head is crucial to end of year standings”. Should the Pioneers want to influence those end of year standings it all starts with a quality performance on Saturday night. There is so much more than just the W on the line in this one, with the victor taking the lead in a season series that could very well shape the backdrop of the East Conference Final.

Pioneers vs Sandringham Sabres Match Preview Friday 2nd June 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Sandringham Sabres Match Preview Report Friday 2nd June 2017

The Pioneers and Sabres square off for round two of their season series on Friday night at the Icehouse with the home side looking to retain their top billing in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres come to town on the back of two impressive victories including a nail biting one point win over Dandenong and a blowout 30 point win over the Melbourne Tigers in the second match of their Round 9 back-to-back set.

Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is aware of the danger the Sabres pose, stating that “Sandringham provide us with a new challenge on Friday night. They are a team with most bases covered, good imports at their 4 and 5 spots an NBL player at the three and a very experienced 300 NBL game point guard is a very dangerous combination and they are coming off an impressive double win weekend”.

The Pioneers last faced Sandringham on their home court in Round 6, a match that Hill recalls well, stating that “we met them a month ago on their court and shook them off in the end to win by 8 after leading by 1 with a few minutes remaining”. Since that match the Sabres have only improved and despite their current 6-6 record, they are playing inspired basketball, led by star import Jerry Evans with season averages of 17.1 ppg and 7.4 rpg, whilst the wing play of Igor Hadziomerovic (14.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg) and big man Ethan O’Day (14.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg) have turned the Sabres season around after a dismal 1-4 start.

This match is set to be a classic encounter given the numerous close matchups across the floor. Pioneers Coach Richard Hill agrees, stating that “the matchups are very interesting, Daniel Alexander v Jerry Evans, Brad Hill v Igor Hadziomerovic and Tom Daly v Nathan Crosswell are three outstanding high level clashes”. Coach Hill will once again rely on the unselfish and team focused approach of his side, reiterating that “as is always the case we will be trusting our unselfishness and system together with solid team defence to get the job done”.

The Pioneers need their supporting cast to provide respite for their starting lineup, particularly Jack Madgen and Kane DeWit who have shown they are able to match it with any opponent when given the opportunity. These two guards have flourished this season and hold the key to the Pioneers making another deep run into September. Bench points are a rare commodity in the SEABL and the Pioneers are often league leaders in this category, however the Pioneers bench was found wanting against Kilsyth who got 16 points out of Jamie Ahale compared to just nine points from the entire Pioneers bench.

Daniel Alexander is the clear stand out for the Pioneers in the front court so far this season and was once again selected in the SEABL Team of the Week for his 21 points and 14 rebounds against Kilsyth. But he cannot do it alone week after week and Coach Hill will be looking for more impact from Luke Jamieson (8.9 ppg and 7.2 rpg) and John Jones (5.8 ppg and 4.5 rpg) who have been sharing the starting role at the five spot all season.

Last time these two sides met, Jerry Evans put on a masterclass in the front court, compiling 28 points and 13 rebounds with Alexander (17 points and 7 rebounds) receiving little support from Jamieson (0 points and 6 rebounds) or Jones (6 points and 3 rebounds). Should a similar outcome unfold, the Sabres would be favourites to take this one out given their improvement across their other positions.

But stopping Evans will not be the Pioneers primary objective as the Sabres have match winners across the court. Ethan O’Day is one of the biggest improvers in the competition with Jamieson and Jones facing an uphill battle to limit the Sabres’ prodigy on the interior. Nathan Crosswell will draw on his 300+ games of NBL experience when he squares off against Pioneers Captain Tom Daly, with Daly looking to test the mileage left in the legs of the 37 year old veteran. Despite his age, Crosswell is still averaging 8.8 ppg and 5.5 apg so far this season, but it is his wealth of experience which cannot be quantified by numbers that will have the biggest impact on his teammates and the contest.

Stopping Igor Hadziomerovic will be Brad Hill’s primary objective with the Pioneers’ wing looking to run his opposite number off the three point line where he is shooting 37.8% this season for a career average of 54.1% from distance. Limiting the triple threat will be a team effort and Hill will need full support from his teammates if the Pioneers are going to get the job done.

Home court advantage is massive for the Pioneers heading into this one, with the home crowd surely enough to will the Pioneers to victory. But they will not have it all their own way and will be made to fight it out to the end. The Pioneers will need to be vigilant throughout the contest and support one another on both ends of the floor because the Sabres are a far different proposition second time around. Coach Hill is aware of this stating that “on what I have seen they are much improved, and we will need to be on our game”. There is no denying the importance of this clash for both teams, with the Pioneers looking to get breathing space over Nunawading at the top of the East whilst the Sabres are looking for a winning record to kick start the second half of their 2017 campaign.

Pioneers vs Kilsyth Cobras Match Preview 26th May 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Kilsyth Cobras Match Preview Report Friday 26th May 2017

MattSuttonGame 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.


Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Bendigo Braves Match Preview

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Bendigo Braves Match Preview  –  Saturday 13th May 2017

All roads lead to Bendigo this weekend as the Mount Gambier Pioneers make the journey to face their bitter rivals, the Braves on their home court. The Pioneers will be looking to stretch their unbeaten start to 2017 to nine straight games, but they will not have it their own way and will have to fight hard against an opponent that always poses a major challenge.

Despite their rivalry, the Pioneers admire what the Braves bring to the court, with Pioneers Coach Richard Hill stating that “We have enormous respect for Bendigo and what they have achieved. Their roster is very talented and we will need to be at our best to combat them”. In their last meeting in Round 2, the Pioneers were forced to play hard-nosed four quarter basketball to overcome the Braves and they will be a much tougher opponent in the natural surroundings.

The Pioneers will require a concerted team effort if they are going to effectively dismantle the Braves unit, as they have quality across all positions. Coach Hill knows he has a tough task ahead of him because “Starks is a scorer of note, Aiken provides impact on both ends of the floor, Doyle is a dynamic point guard and Andronicos has been their most consistent player”. Hill trusts his formula and says that his side “will be looking to play typical Pioneers basketball” which we all know means there will be no “I” present on Saturday night, it will all be about the team approach.

The Braves appear to be a different side to that of last season, with the loss of Jeremy Kendle and Damian Johnson being felt across the floor so far in their 2017 campaign. Sitting in fifth place in the South Conference with a 4-6 record is not where they want to be and you can expect they will come out breathing fire and brimstone as they look to level their season series with the Pioneers and go on a winning streak of their own.

Look for Dyami Starks to provide most of the scoring for the Braves with his season average of 23.7ppg good enough for second highest scoring average in the league to date. Tom Daly will be given the duty of guarding Starks for the majority of the evening and will need to lock down on him on the defensive end to halt the Braves’ offensive momentum.

CJ Aiken played his first game with the Braves last time these two sides met and impressed even with his brief exposure to the Braves playbook. Now that he has had time to adjust to his new team environment, look for Aiken to launch into full beast mode at both ends of the court and combine with Matt Andronicus to provide a stern test to the Pioneers triple towers of Daniel Alexander, Luke Jamieson and John Jones. Coach Hill is wary of the front court threat posed by the Braves, stating that “they have great size in the front court and Daniel Luke and John will need to be at their best, both on defence and the boards” if we are going to prevail.

This match will hinge largely on defence as has been the case in recent weeks where an improved Pioneers defensive structure was able to curtail the usually dynamic offensive systems of Nunawading and Sandringham. Coach Hill was pleased with the improvement his side has shown on the defensive end in recent times and stressed the importance of quality defence in generating desired results, stating that “our defence was much improved last weekend and more of the same will give us an opportunity to win on the road again”. CJ Aiken is currently averaging 17.3 ppg and 11.9rpg which when combined with Matt Andronicus’ figures of 11.3ppg and 7.0rpg makes for a challenging night for the Pioneers’ big men. Whilst the Pioneers have an additional tall that they can use off the bench, they will need to get more out of John Jones and Luke Jamieson who both struggled last week, combining for 6 points and 9 rebounds against Sandringham and 9 points and 12 rebounds against Nunawading. Both players would fit into any starting five in the competition apart from the Pioneers who have the luxury of three quality big men on their roster. Daniel Alexander has locked down his starting position well and truly but Jones and Jamieson appear to be battling it out on a week-by-week basis for a starting role. Inconsistent minutes can be the catalyst for inconsistent performance as has been shown in recent weeks and Coach Hill may have to settle on a regular starting five if the inconsistent minutes continue to impact on the roles and the confidence of Jamieson and Jones.

The Braves and Pioneers have a long history as bitter rivals and Saturday night will provide the perfect backdrop for another cagey encounter. In yet another rematch of last year’s Championship Final, the Pioneers will face the ultimate litmus test against a vengeful Braves opponent on their home floor and will have to put in four quarters of quality basketball to get the job done. The Pioneers should prove a bridge too far for the Braves on Saturday night as they have the depth and quality across the floor to overcome a strong Braves lineup