WITH the regular season nearly reaching a close, Round 7 of the Melbourne United Victorian Junior Basketball League (MUVJBL) Under-18 Boys Championship Division hopes to be a percentage booster for a few of the top-eight. As the fixture stands, no two teams will face within the top eight this round – with seven positions or over separating each match-up. Bulleen’s contest with Korumburra will be an important contest for the home-side, with the Boomers recording consecutive ties over the last fortnight. Also, with back-to-back wins in the last two rounds, the Braves will look to make it three in a row against the Rangers as they attempt to crack into the eight.
Bulleen Boomers (4th, 10-3-2) vs Korumburra Wildcats (14th, 7-8)
After recording consecutive draws over the last fortnight, the Boomers look to hold their top-four spot this week as they face the Korumburra Wildcats at home. In their last two outings, the Boomers hosted Dandenong (56-56) and Kilsyth (63-63), who sit first and third. Despite the results, the Boomers remain undefeated at home, and should remain as such when the Wildcats visit. Despite impressive at the season’s open, the Wildcats have only won two of their six outings. They put Keilor away early last week with a 32-15 first half, riding home comfortably to a 65-50 win. This week they face a few of the league’s top scorers in Anthony Dell’Orso and Owen Foxwell – who average 16.7 and 14 points per game (PPG) in fifth and eleventh for league-average. Korumburra boast Keith Robinson in fourth spot, averaging 18.8 PPG from five outings – followed next by Brodie Mabilia on 12.5.
Dandenong Rangers (3rd, 10-3-2) vs Bendigo Braves (10th, 8-6-1)
With a top eight spot in jeopardy, Bendigo Braves need to take a big scalp in Dandenong Rangers this week if they hope to play finals. On the road, the Braves have been disappointing (2-4-0), and despite two consecutive wins on the board, are yet to prove they can handle travelling. Last week, the Rangers were the only winning team within the top-four, taking consecutive draws in the rounds prior. Werribee copped a belting in Dandenong’s return to form last week (49-93), with the Braves likely to suffer similarly with the top-two up for grabs. Riley Simmons and Zac Taylor continued their form last week with 13 and 20 points respectively. Currently, Simmons averages 12.2 PPG in 14th across the league, while Taylor follows in seventeenth with 11.8. The Braves have league-leader, Caleb Connick, at the helm – averaging 20 PPG with 20 points in last week’s win.
Kilsyth Cobras (1st, 11-1-3) vs Diamond Valley Eagles (13th, 7-8)
This week Kilsyth Cobras boast the easiest fixture as they come up against a struggling Diamond Valley Eagles at home. Since losing last week’s match-up to Bendigo, the Eagles hold at six consecutive losses in the Championship Division. Their record looks set to worsen when they face the undefeated Cobras at home this week. Last week, the Cobras recorded their first non-winning result in the new division after drawing 63-63 with the Boomers. With the competition pressing, an easy fixture is all they need to reassert their position. David Okwera emerged in Kilsyth’s clash last week with 17 points, as Josh Duach retained form with 12 of his own. Duach places sixth for average points (15), while Okwera makes his way to eighteenth with 11.4. For the Eagles, Ethan Bateman has been impressive – averaging 11.7 PPG in twelfth. Joseph Brazier impressed in their loss last week with a team-high 11 points.
Werribee Devils (11th, 8-7) vs Nunawading Spectres (2nd, 11-4)
The Werribee Devils face the Nunawading Spectres at home this week as the Spectres make a play for top-spot. After recording a rare 57-60 loss last week against the Melbourne Tigers, the Spectres will look to show off a dominant away record when they travel to Werribee. The Devils copped a flogging against a resurging Dandenong Rangers at home last week, and will not want to concede consecutive beltings. Last week, James Roche held strong for the Spectres with 16 points – followed next by Curtis Brecko with 11. The pair rank second and eleventh for average points and face strong competition in Darrien Herbert (4th) and Makur Jongkuch (8th). Herbert held strong in last week’s loss, recording 14 points – Jongkuch following on seven.
Keilor Thunder (12th, 8-7) vs Melbourne Tigers (5th, 9-6)
Despite the discrepancy in positions, only one win separates the Keilor Thunder and Melbourne Tigers. This week the Thunder host the Tigers, with a lot riding on both sides’ hopes for finals. The Thunder currently hold four consecutive losses on the board and have conceded 912 points to 850. Last week, the Wildcats defeated them 65-50, and the week prior they lost 81-50 against the Spectres. Comparatively, the Tigers are coming off an impressive win against the Spectres and remained more competitive than most in their loss to the Kilsyth Cobras (62-50). The Thunder missed their top three league scorer in Paul Tssapatolis (19 PPG) of late, but boasted solid performances from Aleksander Bandilovski (11) and Tonga Matapule Otutaha (11). Comparatively, Melbourne are still without a top 20 scorer. Though last week had impressive performances from both Patrick Twigg (14) and Lyzel Mataika (12).