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.

Pioneers vs Nunawading Spectres Match Preview Friday 7th July 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Nunawading Spectres Match Preview Friday 7th July 2017

All eyes will be on the Ice House this Friday night as the two major heavyweights of the East Conference in Mount Gambier and Nunawading go head to head for conference supremacy.

Both sides currently sit on 14 wins, but Mount Gambier leads the way with two games in hand and a much stronger percentage. After an unstoppable start to the season, Nunawading have had a melancholy last five matches and have been unable to string two wins together. The Pioneers on the other hand have won four of their last five games and will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run at home this season to ten matches on Friday night.

Brad Hill was unstoppable against the Miners with his 28 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists earning him player of the week honours in one of the performances of the season. Backing up that performance will be no easy task and Andrew Steel looks likely to win the unenviable task of stopping the powerhouse wing. Both Hill and Steel have experienced inconsistent form throughout season 2017, with the winner of this battle likely to provide the impetus for their team to pull away as the night progresses.

Daniel Alexander and Dain Swetalla are set to provide a highlight reel of entertainment for the Ice House faithful on Friday night with both players not backing down from one another. Look for high octane offence and suffocating defence to be the order of the day as these two American stars duke it out at the four position for the majority of the evening. Alexander struggled with three early fouls last week against Ballarat which limited his production yet he still managed to turn the game on its head with a nine point burst in 90 seconds. Swetalla is coming off a poor showing against cellar dwellers Canberra where he put up 11 points and 6 rebounds and he will be hungry to return to at least his season averages of 16.1 ppg and 8.4 rpg this week.

Tom Daly and Shane McDonald meet again at the point and McDonald will be seeking his revenge after Daly completely nullified his influence in their round six clash. On that Sunday afternoon, Daly would accumulate a handy 17 points and 2 assists whilst keeping McDonald to 3 points and 7 assists in his lowest scoring effort of the season. Both players are somewhat SEABL veterans with Daly playing his fifth season in the league whilst McDonald is the old hand with 13 seasons to his name. This experience cannot be bought and will prove pivotal down the stretch with this game set to go down to the wire.

Tom Wright was the chief destroyer against the Pioneers in their round 6 match up with a game high 28 points so look for the Pioneers to target the former Hobart captain with a more concerted defensive effort from two guards Erik Burdon and Jack Madgen. Wright will need to be just as effective on defence given the regularity at which Burdon runs hot from three on his home floor.

Simon Conn’s name is synonymous with Nunawading basketball and he has been the heart and soul of the team for the last seven seasons. In his last outing against the Pioneers he put up 18 points and 8 rebounds and faced little resistance from Luke Jamieson and John Jones at the five position. Jamieson is buoyed after coming off his best performance since the opening round with his 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Miners sure to boost his confidence heading into this match.

Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is looking forward to “another challenge with statistically the best shooting team in the competition”. “Four players shooting the three ball at 40% or more is going to really test our perimeter defence”. “Conn and McDonald have been the best point guard five-man combination for a number of years and defending their pick and roll will be a key to our success”. “We will need to control the tempo, look after the ball and match them on the boards” he said. With the season reaching its climax, Coach Hill is aware that “this result could prove pivotal in the battle for home court in the play-offs”.

Pioneers vs Ballarat Miners Preview 1st July 2017

Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Ballarat Miners Match Preview Saturday 1st July 2017

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The Ballarat Miners make their way to the Icehouse this Saturday night to take on a Mount Gambier opponent looking to cement its position at the peak of the East Conference. The Icehouse will turn pink for one night only with all spectators encouraged to don their best pink outfit and show their support for Breast Cancer awareness. A special curtain raiser match will also take place from 6pm with Tenison Woods College Women taking on Basketball Mount Gambier Women, so make sure to get to your seats early and support the ladies.
Ballarat pose a serious threat given their current three-game winning streak which has propelled them to top billing in the South Conference and they will be looking to square the season ledger against the Pioneers after giving up the first game of their season series at home way back in round 4. According to Pioneers Coach Richard Hill, “The Miners felt they should have beaten us in Ballarat. They’re sitting on top of the South, have added a NZ international and clearly have a championship agenda”. This matchup has an August feel to it and with both teams leading their respective conferences this could be a preview of the Championship Final later in the year.
Wins against Sandringham, Hobart and Canberra may have put Ballarat’s name up in lights in recent weeks but the Pioneers pose a far greater threat particularly on their home court where they have been undefeated all season. The Pioneers bounced back with a melancholy performance last week against Geelong, almost surrendering a 28-point half time lead before holding off a fast finishing Supercats opponent by 10 points. They will need to be on their game for a full four quarters this week because Ballarat have the consistency across all positions to provide a constant challenge throughout the duration of the evening.
It will be a battle for the ages at the point guard position with the Miners’ Peter Hooley facing off against good friend, the Pioneers’ Tom Daly. According to Coach Hill, “Good mates Peter Hooley and Tom Daly should have a great battle that will be crucial to the result”. Hooley is enjoying being back in the SEABL and his 19 ppg, 4.5 apg and 3.8 rpg so far this season will be a serious challenge for the Pioneers captain. Not to be outdone, Daly currently leads the Pioneers in field goal percentage with a staggering 59.3% on the season whilst contributing a solid 17.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg and 4.5 apg thus far in 2017. As the playmakers for their respective teams the pair’s floor general prowess will be pivotal in shaping the outcome of this contest. Miners’ Coach Eric Hayes has been looking to give rising star Sam Short similar minutes to Hooley in recent weeks so Daly will have his hands full given that Short is arguably one of the strongest back-up point guards in the competition given his Melbourne United experience. Daly will be looking to his own supporting cast in back-up guard Kane DeWit to provide sufficient respite with veteran Matt Sutton also capable of running the team if required.
Ballarat have been looking to stretch opposing sides by starting their usual Power Forward Craig Moller at the Small Forward position, a concern not just for opposition wings but also for basketball purists given his 2.03m standing doesn’t exactly classify as small. “Mollers versatility at 6’10” is a real tester for us, he is a rebounding machine” states Coach Hill. Brad Hill faces a daunting challenge with the height and length of Moller belittling the Pioneers wing so Hill will be relying on his pace, agility and the support of his front court to restrict the Miner’s big man who is dominating the league with an average of 18.7 ppg and 11.3 rpg in 2017. Brad Hill has put up 13.7 ppg, 4.5 apg and 6.5 rpg to date, improving his assist (up by 1.9 apg- 2016) and rebound (up by 0.6 rpg- 2016) totals so far this season as he plays more of a facilitator’s role for his team. This has seen his points average decline by 2.6 ppg on last season and 6.2 ppg on his best scoring season for the Pioneers back in 2013 yet he continues to shoot at a very handy 45.6% from the field and Moller will need to pay him close attention because height isn’t everything. Moller will likely shift to the four position at some stage depending on Coach Hayes’ tactics and Hill will be hoping that is sooner rather than later. Moller’s backup is New Zealand international, Leon Henry who is a recent addition to the side and relatively unknown to the competition outside of his debut performance of 9 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists against Canberra in 18:42 of game time last week.
Erik Burdon ran hot for the Pioneers from his favoured three-point range against Geelong, putting up a total of six triples for the match to lead his side in scoring with 27 points. The performance earned Burdon a place in the SEABL Team of the Week and Davon Usher will have to be on his guard to prevent a similar occurrence this week given the damage he can cause from beyond the arc in very quick time. Usher provides his own set of challenges for Burdon and is enjoying a stellar season of his own, putting up 15.8 ppg, 2.7 apg and 5.6 rpg so far this season. Jack Madgen has proved a tough assignment as Burdon’s back up in recent weeks and it will take a concerted effort from the pair to get the job done against Usher. In their last outing the Pioneers duo were able to restrict Usher to 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and they will need to be vigilant for the full 40 minutes because Usher has the ability to turn on the pain for his opposing number very quickly.
Daniel Alexander is dominating the SEABL in 2017 and once again he gets the challenge of facing off against a fellow import in University of Delaware product Marvin King-Davis. King-Davis is coming off a season-high 22 points against Canberra but will face a much sterner test in Alexander who is leading the Pioneers in scoring (19.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg) whilst shooting a lofty 56.1% from the field. Alexander has been the difference in the majority of the Pioneers victories to date and stopping him must be the Miner’s primary goal. Alexander seems to find a way when there doesn’t seem to be one and despite being held for one or two quarters in a match he somehow still manages to score a double-double. Moller will also spend some quality time at the four position and expect his battle with Alexander to be a tough, hard-fought battle as both players are in red-hot form and are capable of turning a game on its head in a matter of minutes.
The Miners have kept the Pioneers guessing with a combination of traditional 6’8” Centre Cameron McCallum and 6’7”Power Forward Marvin King-Davis likely to share the Centre duties throughout the night. The Pioneers are more likely to play a combination of Luke Jamieson and John Jones at the position who are both more traditional Centres and they will find it tough when King-Davis shifts over to the five position given his agility. Both Jones and Jamieson were well held against Geelong last week and need to lift this week to provide their team with quality rim protection and offensive production.
Despite their success thus far, Coach Hill is “still searching for the great rebounding low turnover game that has been eluding us”. With finals looming, Hill is aware of the importance of every contest heading into the post-season, stating that “this is the fourth of a very testing five game bracket that is a real test against high quality opponents and is another opportunity to measure where we are at”.
With close contests across the board, this match is shaping up as an absolute blockbuster and cannot be missed. The race to the finals is on in earnest and every game from here on in is crucial in shaping the final standings. Make sure you get to the game early and watch the best that men’s and women’s basketball has to offer and support the great cause of raising breast cancer awareness!