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.
Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Dandenong Rangers National Final Match Preview Saturday 2 Sept 2017
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
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
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
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.