Mount Gambier Pioneers vs Kilsyth Cobras Match Preview Report Friday 26th May 2017
Game 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 Frankston Blues Match Preview Report Friday 19th May 2017
The Pioneers will be looking to redeem themselves this week when they return home to take on a Frankston side desperately looking to salvage their season. The match will be the first of several special jersey nights with the green and black being replaced by the red and gold of silver sponsors McDonalds. “It’s a big night for the club on Friday with the team wearing Maccas red and gold in support of one of our Silver sponsors” said Pioneers coach Richard Hill.
The Pioneers were humbled against Bendigo last weekend, being down as much as 36 points before eventually falling by 21 points. Coach Hill is looking for his “team to bounce back hard after our loss on the road last week. Training on Tuesday was pretty tough as was our film review” he said. The match against Bendigo was easily one of the poorest showings from the Pioneers in the last 5-6 years but it is the reality check that the side needed heading into the second half of the season after eight consecutive victories. Frankston have struggled to piece together competitive performances and are coming off a hiding of their own by 24 points against the Supercats in Round 7.
Frankston may be sitting in last place in the East Conference with just one win from nine matches but they do boast quality across their roster. According to Coach Hill, “although Frankston have been struggling for wins, they have a good deal of talent, with two quality imports and a volume scorer in Benny Lewis”. Lewis has played in the NBL, NBA D-League and in Europe and brings a wealth of experience to the floor and is enjoying a hot start to the season to date putting up 14.7ppg, 4.7rpg and 3.3 apg.
Hill is also wary of Alex Francis “who looks very impressive on tape and would probably be leading the league in scoring if he was converting better from the free throw line”. Francis poses a huge threat in the paint and will be a major challenge for Daniel Alexander and Luke Jamieson on the interior as his current stats of 20ppg and 10.6 rpg suggest. Hill is aware of the threat that Francis poses and believes a team effort will get the job done, stating that “Francis will provide a real challenge for Daniel and Luke and they will need some real support from their team mates to contain him”.
Tom Daly was enjoying a stellar start to his first season as captain of the Pioneers but had his colours lowered severely against a Dyami Starks inspired Bendigo side last weekend. Starks would pile on 32 points against Daly who would not bother the scoreboard attendant until the final term when he finally broke free for nine consolation points. Daniel Alexander was also well below his best as he faced the man mountains of CJ Aiken and Matt Andronicus with little assistance from Luke Jamieson and John Jones. Hill expects both Daly and Alexander to return to form against the Blues, stating that “Tom and Daniel were below their usual standard in Bendigo and I would expect them to bounce back on our home court”.
The true strength for the Pioneers in this match will be at the guard positions with both Tom Daly and Erik Burdon looking set to dominate against Tristan Lloyd and Jake Macaulay. The Pioneers should have too much depth across these positions with Kane DeWit and Jack Madgen providing more than serviceable relief to Daly and Burdon as required. Hill echoes these sentiments in stating that “our advantage should be in the guard spots where we have very good depth of talent”.
The stage is set for an epic encounter with the Pioneers looking for a confidence boosting victory after an abysmal showing in their last outing. Frankston will be looking to cause the boil over of the season to date as they look to gain some respect from their Eastern Conference peers. Expect early fireworks as both sides come ready to play but it is a case of being wary of the wounded Pioneers who are smarting after last week’s horrific performance and with their coach’s words ringing loudly in their ears they will look to remind the competition of their true identity as championship contenders.
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
Mount Gambier Pioneers vs NW Tasmania Thunder Match Preview – Friday 28th April 2017
The Mount Gambier Pioneers return home this Friday night as they look to continue their stellar early season form against a North-West Tasmanian opponent intent on turning their season around.
Despite starting with just one win from five matches and being at polar opposites to the Pioneers (5-0) in the East, the Thunder have great confidence that they are just one win from taking back their season and moving up the conference standings.
The Thunder have signed two new imports in guard Ahmad Starks (Oregon State) and power forward Jeremiah Ingram (North Carolina Central University) and both will be looking to repay the faith shown in them by club management by filling the box score this week and leading their side to a much needed victory. The Thunder have had their struggles in putting their new group on the floor together with Starks joining the team late as a replacement for Akeem Richmond (family reasons). Pioneers Coach Richard Hill is well aware of Stark’s capabilities stating that Starks “is very small but had a good college career at Oregon State and was one of the leading players in the top Swedish league last season” and that he “would expect the Thunder to be an improved and dangerous unit tonight”.
The Pioneers are enjoying the perfect start to season 2017 having won all five of their matches including a strong showing last weekend that yielded victories against Dandenong and Ballarat on a back-to-back set. Daniel Alexander continues to impress in the green and black with averages of 18ppg, 9rpg and 2.2apg and was rightfully awarded for his efforts when he was named in the Week 4 Team of the Week. Pioneers Captain Tom Daly is enjoying a red hot start to the season with his 20.2ppg, 4.6rpg and 4.8apg proving highly valuable given the slow start to the season by Brad Hill and Erik “Eze” Burdon from the field. “Eze and Brad have both been shooting the ball poorly from three, usually a strength for us…to be able to win both games last weekend with them down was very encouraging” said Coach Hill.
Coach Hill was impressed with the way Alexander and Daly have gone about it so far this season stating that “Daniel and Tom have been performing consistently at a high level”. Last week it was Jack Madgen and John Jones who stood up for the Pioneers and Hill was quick to credit their work stating that Alexander and Daly “were well supported by the group last weekend, particularly Jack Madgen and Big John who both had their best games for the club”.
The Thunder will be looking to take the crowd out of the equation early on but there are question marks over their ability to stay in the contest for the duration of the evening given their lack of playing time together. The Pioneers have weathered the fast start storm in recent weeks and been able to quickly find their feet and get back in the game but it is not a trend they will want to continue moving deeper into the season.
The key matchup will be between point guards Tom Daly and Ahmad Starks as both look to provide quality distribution of the basketball to their shooters and ensure the floor is run like clockwork. The hustle of Daly will need to be matched by Starks on the interior, he will need to remain accountable for the Pioneers Captain all night and he will need to receive support from his teammates if he is going to contain the Pioneers leading scorer.
Jeremiah Ingram (17ppg, 7.25rpg, 1.25apg in 2017) brings a strong presence to the paint and the 6”7 power forward who joined the Thunder straight from his senior year at North Carolina Central University “comes in as a hybrid power forward who can play inside and outside” according to Thunder Coach Sam Armstrong. Ingram’s athleticism makes for an intriguing matchup with Daniel Alexander whose aerial assaults in recent weeks have been compelling viewing. According to Armstrong, Ingram “played smaller ball as a guard in college but is really strong and has a big rebounding mentality as well” which will test Alexander to his limits.
Despite their slow start to the season, the Thunder have a solid lineup that is sure to fire anytime soon. Once Starks is fully integrated into their system they have the potential to be a serious threat but the question remains whether that will be this week. The Thunder have lacked offensive firepower recently and put up just 63 points against Sandringham last week. Meanwhile, the Pioneers have continued to score heavily even with two of their best shooters in Burdon and Hill misfiring at 31% and 39% respectively in 2017. Look for the Pioneers to get the early advantage and be unrelenting as they seek to continue their journey as the “Redeem Team” making amends for last season’s championship miss.
The Pioneer’s face-off against the Bendigo Braves in their first home game for 2017! Game kicks off at 8pm!
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