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!

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

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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.