Media Release

SEMI FINAL PREVIEW

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Nunawading Spectres Semi Final Match Preview Friday 11 August
The stage is set for another epic chapter to be written in the Mount Gambier vs Nunawading story this Friday night at the Ice House as the top two sides in the East Conference battle it out for the right to host the East Conference Final in two weeks’ time.
The Pioneers split their two-game road trip last weekend to finish with an imposing 21-3 win/loss season record which included an undefeated season on their home deck. The Pioneers also won the season series against the Spectres 2-0, winning by three points on the road in round six before prevailing by a more commanding 11 points at home in round 14. Despite these two losses, both games were decided late in the game and the Spectres boast a strong lineup that will test a Pioneers lineup that is arguably the deepest in the league.
Simon Conn was recently crowned as the 2017 SEABL season MVP, beating a host of worthy contenders including a likely opponent on Friday night in Daniel Alexander. Announcing the season MVP before the post-season has played out didn’t work so well in the NBA in 1995 when Hakeem Olajuwon dominated newly crowned MVP David Robinson in the playoffs and Pioneers fans will be hoping that missing out on the league’s highest honour will provide similar motivation for Alexander.
Nunawading are coming off successive victories, albeit against Canberra and Melbourne who both finished second last in their respective conferences. At the business end of the season you want to be playing in a finals-like atmosphere so it will be interesting to see how the Spectres handle the heat that will be applied to them on Friday night. The Pioneers have their own concerns after enduring a tough schedule but Pioneers coach Richard Hill believes his side is “well prepared after seven games in 21 days”. The Pioneers bench did get a solid workout in the final rounds of the season so the starting lineup should be fresh and ready to fire come tip-off.
Size, shooting and experience are the Spectres key strengths according to Pioneers Coach Richard Hill who states “Nunawading is a tough veteran unit, with great size and shooting ability”. With Simon Conn winning the 2017 MVP Award, the Spectres now have “Shane McDonald and Simon Conn who are now both MVP’s and they have been the best one-two punch in the competition for at least six years” states Hill. Hill believes his side will “need to slow either McDonald or Conn if we want to be successful”. McDonald once again led the SEABL in assists with 8.2 apg and shutting down his dime dishing domination must be the Pioneers’ primary objective. Tom Daly’s role has never been more important because if he can shut down McDonald it will limit the amount of quality ball that Conn and Dain Swetalla receive which will effectively dismantle the Spectres offence.
With both sides boasting a strong front court, the rebounding battle will be pivotal in deciding the outcome of this contest. Coach Hill agrees, stating that “rebounding will be key and we will need to be at our best on the boards to compete with the size and versatility of the Spectres”. Luke Jamieson (11.5ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Daniel Alexander (19.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg) have been brutal in the paint this season for the Pioneers whilst John Jones (5.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg) has provided solid rim protection off the bench. The Spectres on the other hand have Simon Conn (20.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and Dain Swetalla (15.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg) who have lit the SEABL up all season and they won’t be intimidated by playing in enemy territory. With both sides so evenly matched at the four and the five positions, the battle of the boards could very well be decided at the wing position where the Pioneers hold the advantage given Brad Hill’s 6.9 rpg this season compared to his opposing number in Andrew Steel who has managed 4.6 rpg in 2017.
With a week’s break and home court advantage in the East Conference Final on the line, both sides will leave everything out on the court in what promises to be one of the matches of the season. The rivalry between these two sides is always intense and you can be guaranteed that they will put on a show to remember. So, make sure to get to your seats early because you will not want to miss a second of this colossal encounter!

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Hobart Chargers Match Preview Friday 5 August 2017

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.

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.

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Albury-Wodonga Bandits Match Preview Friday 21st July 2017

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.

Pioneers vs Canberra Gunners Match Preview Saturday 15th July 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Canberra Gunners Match Preview Report Saturday 15th July 2017

The Pioneers venture to the nation’s capital this weekend to take on a Canberra Gunners side still buoyant from their clutch overtime victory against Bendigo at home last week. The match will be the first of a back-to-back set for the Pioneers who will also meet the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence side on Sunday afternoon.

Despite being at polar opposites of the ladder in the East Conference, this match is an epic encounter waiting to happen. The Gunners will be brimming with confidence heading into the match and will be asking for another devastating performance from ex-Pioneer Ben Allen who put up 28 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists against Bendigo last week.

Ben Allen has been the main man yet again for the Gunners this season and is once again averaging a double-double. With 15.3 ppg, 12.1 rpg and 4.4 apg to date, the ex-Pioneer is reveling in the leading role but the lack of a supporting cast has been costly with his side registering just three wins from 18 attempts this season. The Gunners are a young side with plenty of future promise and the performances of Glen Morison (20 points, 9 rebounds) and Broderick Doran (17 points, 7 rebounds) against Bendigo last week are a sign that the Gunners will fire again soon. Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is wary of the dark horse Gunners stating that “the Gunners have been steadily improving and after a solid performance against Nunawading caused a huge upset over Bendigo”. “They have a great group of young talented Australians and are very well led by Ben Allen and Daniel Joyce”. “They run the same offensive system as we do so there will be very few secrets in this game”.

Expect Luke Jamieson to get the job on Allen for the majority of the evening with John Jones’ pinch hitting from the bench crucial in wearing down the Gunners big man. Jamieson has been back to his best form in recent weeks and will need to continue to fight hard on the interior and stretch Allen out to the three-point line to negate his defensive expertise. It will take a combined effort from the Pioneers front court to restrict Allen’s influence across four quarters, with Coach Hill stating that “Ben Allen is coming off a great game against Bendigo and our front line will need to be on their game to keep him in check”.

Brad Hill has experienced a rich vein of form recently, scoring an average of 26 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists across the last two rounds. Hill is a difficult match up and it looks as though Broderick Doran will get the unenviable task of attempting to quell the influence of the Pioneers’ wing on the contest. Hill’s two-way game is one of the finest in the league, he can shoot the lights out from inside or outside the arc and his defensive efforts are underrated as he regularly takes boards off the bigger units in the league. Hill is crucial to the Pioneers success and will need to be closely monitored throughout the night if the Gunners are any chance of winning the contest.

Daniel Alexander is a game winner, pure and simple and his ability to score quickly has opposition coaches searching for answers week in and week out. Alexander will face off against young gun Glenn Morison in a matchup that appears incredibly lopsided in Alexander’s favour. However, Morison is coming off a stellar 20 points and 9 rebounds against Bendigo and will emerge from the locker room with nothing to lose so Alexander will need to approach this game like any other. The Pioneers import is the barometer for his team’s success because nothing lifts his side more than when he throws down a powerful dunk or makes it rain from three.

The depth of the Pioneers will simply be too much for the young Gunners side to handle, particularly at this stage of the season, where the Gunners are already looking at next season and the Pioneers are looking at making it count heading into the post-season. According to Coach Hill, the Pioneers “have been in very good form at home and need to take that form and competitive attitude on the road”. The road trip will be a challenge but if the Pioneers are going to win another title they will need to get used to getting it done in their opponent’s house.