McDaniel’s masterclass makes Chargers champs

A DOMINANT offensive performance from Sam McDaniel has led the Hobart Chargers to the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Men’s championship, with the Tasmanian-based side taking down the Mt Gambier Pioneers by 16 points at State Basketball Centre on Saturday night.

The Chargers came into the game needing to take down the winning system the Pioneers had put in place throughout the season, and had won them a spot in the big dance. However, it was Hobart that ended up proving too much for the opposition, overcoming a double-digit deficit in the first term to storm home and completely outperform the opposition on their way to a 78-62 win.

The result was largely set up by the efforts of McDaniel, who put the team on his back offensively and scored nearly half of Hobart’s points for the match. The guard/forward was an easy choice for the Grand Final MVP and was able to stand up in the biggest game of the NBL1 South Men’s season. With his campaign for the Tasmania JackJumpers under a month away from kicking off, he appears to be in some ripping form and is set for a massive season if Saturday is anything to go off.

Hobart Chargers (78) def. Mt Gambier Pioneers (62)

Sam McDaniel vs. Pioneers – 32 points, six rebounds, two assists

The opening term saw the Chargers on the back foot, as the Pioneers began to fire from the field, showing off some nice passing that resulted in some easy buckets inside. McDaniel’s first bucket didn’t come until eight minutes into the term, where he successfully made it past the defender with a nice hesitation before nailing the floater from the elbow before heading to the bench for a rest.

McDaniel got his side going in perfect fashion in the second term nailing a nice three after combining with fellow JackJumper Jarred Bairstow. Shortly after, McDaniel drove to the hoop and drew contact, before regaining his composure and nailing the free throw. A pattern was beginning to emerge of the 26-year-old finding himself open from behind the arc, as McDaniel nailed another three, before a couple of inside shots – including a steal and dunk on the fast break – rounded out a successful offensive term from both an individual and team standpoint.

The Mt. Gambier defence began to pay a bit more attention to McDaniel to start the second half, but his experience at the top level became to shine through as he still found ways to produce some handy offence. He was using his smooth pump fake move to break free from the defender and often found his spot in the mid range. Due to his size, McDaniel was becoming a bit of a mismatch at the two-guard position, able to back down the likes of Michael Harris and get into scoring position. He had a big third term as the Chargers began to truly break away.

The fourth quarter saw McDaniel’s offensive dominance continue, as he produced baskets from an array of methods. Whether it was a post-up hook shot or a catch and shoot from behind the arc, he was simply too much for the Pioneers defence to handle. His efficiency for the day finished at a high level, with nine of his 15 shots finding the bottom of the net, including four of his five shots from downtown.

The Chargers will now turn their attention to the NBL1 National Finals, which are set to kick off on Friday night, and there is no doubt that McDaniel will play a massive role in that campaign.

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