After a day of quarterfinals filled with some tight games and upsets, we’re down to just four teams in each division.
We preview what is sure to be an exciting day of semifinals action.
VIC Metro vs NSW Country | 3pm
The first semifinal will see a rematch of last year’s grand final matchup, with VIC Metro taking on NSW Country. In yesterday’s action, VIC Metro cruised to a relatively easy win over VIC Country in the quarterfinals while NSW Country were nearly upset by a feisty WA Metro squad.
A key matchup to look for heading into this game will be each team’s bigs going at each other. VIC Metro’s Andreas Panayiotou has been one of the most productive players in the tournament while NSW Country has the impressive front-court duo of Makuach Maluach and Myles Cherry. Both teams will look to get their big-men going early, with Maluach likely being the x-factor for this NSW Country squad moving forward.
Gabe Hadley has had an up-and-down tournament for VIC Metro so far so this game would be the ideal time for him to find some consistency, particularly on the offensive end. Going at Hadley will be NSW Country’s impressive backcourt of Angus Glover and Matthew Kenyon – both of whom have been invited to the Australian U19 squad camp later this month. Glover, who is a knockdown shooter, struggled in the first few days of tournament action but has since re-discovered his range – making him NSW Country’s primary threat from the perimeter.
VIC Metro has the deeper squad but NSW Country has the more talented starting five, along with the toughness that has been intrinsic with this squad over the years. Choosing a winner of this game is a tough call but, after just scraping through the quarterfinals, NSW Country will be looking to make a statement.
VIC Metro: Andreas Panayiotou (15.2 ppg, 10 rpg), Gabe Hadley (17.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
NSW Country: Makuach Maluach (13.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg), Myles Cherry (16.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
Prediction: NSW Country
Queensland North vs NSW Metro | 7pm
The second semifinal will definitely be one of the most exciting games of the tournament. Queensland North has yet to be challenged this week while NSW Metro seemingly gets stronger after every game.
Just like the first semifinal, an intriguing matchup heading into this game will be that of the big-men. Queensland North’s Harry Froling and NSW Metro’s Deng Gak are both products of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence, so both players will be looking to claim bragging rights. Froling has been arguably the most productive player in the tournament – out of the 7 games played, he has posted 5 double-doubles and 2 triple-doubles. Gak’s numbers, although impressive, don’t stand out, but his impact on both ends of the floor is a big reason this NSW Metro squad has managed to compete so well in this tournament.
The play of William McDowell-White will be a big factor in QLD North’s success. McDowell-White has been held back by a shoulder injury, so it’ll be interesting how effective he’ll be able to be with that hindrance – although, it hasn’t looked to have slowed him down. He’ll face NSW Metro’s backcourt duo of Brennan Rymer and Ciaron Fitzgerald. Rymer has been a great scoring threat for NSW Metro while Fitzgerald’s ability to control the pace of the game, as well as impact the game on the defensive end, will be key.
NSW Metro has a deep squad, with Louis Stenmark and Grant Anticevich bringing consistent energy off the bench, but Queensland North’s star quality may prove to be too much.
Queensland North: Harry Froling (21.3 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 4 apg), William McDowell-White (20.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.2 apg)
NSW Metro: Deng Gak (12.5 ppg, 7 rpg), Brennan Rymer (12 ppg, 5 rpg)
Prediction: Queensland North
NSW Metro vs SA Country | 1pm
In what was a surprise to many, NSW Metro has advanced to the semifinals and will face a tough SA Country side. NSW Metro upset VIC Country with some determined play while SA Country cruised through a win over NSW Country.
Bree Delaney was a big reason why NSW Metro was able to upset VIC Country so expect her to be the key player heading into this game. Delaney has been up-and-down will her scoring throughout the week but she has the ability to control the pace of the game regardless of whether her shot is falling. SA Country’s Sarah Elsworthy has also been one of the most productive guards in the tournament so look for those two to go at each other.
The key player for SA Country will be Chelsea Brook, who has been one of the most consistently productive players all tournament. Her ability to score around the rim will be huge for SA Country as NSW Metro doesn’t boast an imposing front-court, by any means. Madeleine Norris had a big quarterfinal for NSW Metro and she’ll need to replicate that in this game, particularly on the defensive end in an effort to slow down Brook.
Although NSW Metro put forward an extremely impressive forward in their quarterfinal, they’ve been inconsistent throughout the tournament. SA Country, on the other hand, has only lost one game this week so they’re the slight favourite heading into this semifinal.
NSW Metro: Bree Delaney (15.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.4 apg), Elizajane Loader (11 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
SA Country: Chelsea Brook (15.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg), Sarah Elsworthy (11.3 ppg, 3 rpg, 4.3 apg)
Prediction: SA Country
VIC Metro vs SA Metro | 5pm
The second women’s semifinal will see two undefeated teams go at each other, with VIC Metro taking on SA Metro. Both teams had relatively easy wins in their respective quarterfinal games but will no doubt be challenged in this game.
Despite not having to exert herself too much, Anneli Maley will be a big factor for VIC Metro. Her ability to use her athleticism on both ends of the floor, a well as her leadership, will be key for her squad. On the other side, in a similar situation, is SA Metro’s Morgan Yaeger. Like Maley, Yaeger hasn’t had to impose herself over the tournament but she’ll still be extremely important for SA Metro, mostly has a ball-handler as VIC Metro will likely set up their full-court press early in the game.
Both teams have strived through the play of some of their younger athletes, and that’s likely not going to change in this game. VIC Metro has received some impressive play from Najvada George and Ezi Magbegor off the bench, both providing a great scoring and energy boost. SA Metro has received similar play from Hannah Lehmann, who can come off the bench and knock down shots from the perimeter with consistency.
VIC Metro has a unique mixture of depth and talent that can’t be overlooked, but SA Metro are coming in with a lot of confidence so we’re sure to be in for an exciting affair.
VIC Metro: Anneli Maley (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Monique Andriuolo (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
SA Metro: Morgan Yaeger (14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Bianca Thacker (14 ppg, 9.3 rpg)
Prediction: VIC Metro