Tigers claw their way to tense victory

IN Round 6 of the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL), there was plenty of basketball around the state. The competition showcases the best talent Victoria has to offer across a number of age groups. In the Under-18 boys competition, a number of games were decided in the dying stages of the game, offering a glimpse into how balanced both the VC Ashe and VC Watson divisions are, even after six rounds of play.

One of the most exciting games of the round saw the Melbourne Tigers head to Keilor Stadium to take on the Keilor Thunder on Friday night. The Tigers were widely expected to get the job done, given they have been one of the form teams to start the year. However, Keilor came into the clash eager on cause an upset and kickstart what has been a disappointing first few weeks of the season. The Thunder got quite close to doing just that, holding the Tigers to a pretty low score. Despite some strong work on the defensive end, Keilor fell three points short of its opponent, with Melbourne sneaking past for its fifth win of the 2022 season.

Keilor Thunder (54) def. by Melbourne Tigers (57)

The Tigers kicked off the game as the stronger side, outscoring their opponents by three in the first term. A lot of Melbourne’s success throughout the year has come from a nice amount of ball movement, particularly in the half court offensive sets, as it frequently results in open looks from behind the three-point line. The second quarter was much better from a Keilor point of view, as they clamped up on the defensive end, and rotated well to prevent any easy buckets. It was a one-point game at the conclusion of the second term, setting up a big final two quarters.

Both sides had an emphasis on defensive work to open the second half, with a combined 24 points scored for the term. Each bucket was hard-fought, and it showed with some fatiguing players on both teams. The lead was unaffected as the buzzer sounded for the final change of play, with not much separating the clubs with just 10 minutes left to decide the result. Quarter number four was more of the same low-scoring action, with hearts in mouths on the benches of both teams. In the end, the class of the Tigers was the difference, as they held on for an impressive and thrilling triumph.

Eitan Ben-Moyal continued his impressive campaign for the Tigers, pouring in a game-high 18 points and once again proved a dangerous factor on the offensive end. He has been a reliable source of points for Melbourne throughout 2022, and that trend resumed on Friday night. Jack Whitbourn was also strong with ball in hand, registering 12 points of his own as the pair eluded the Keilor defence. For the Thunder, Kiir Kuany and Jai Prince combined for 30 of the team’s 54 points, and almost did enough to get their team over the line.

Across the courts

With 11 games taking place on Friday night around Victoria, there was no shortage of basketball as the state’s best prospects went head-to-head in a terrific display of talent.

VC Ashe

Bulleen (46) def. McKinnon (39)
Sandringham (70) def. Kilsyth (63)
Frankston (73) def. Gippsland United (66)
Southern Peninsula (47) def. by Casey (70)

VC Watson

Ballarat (97) def. Geelong United (60)
Diamond Valley (54) def. Wangaratta (51)
Camberwell (76) def. Bendigo (36)
Knox (86) def. Eltham (50)


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