After a week of basketball action, we’re down to our final 2 teams in each division. The men’s Grand Final will see Victoria take Tasmania while the Victorian women will take on Western Australia in the women’s Grand Final. We preview these 2 games in what’s sure to be an exciting final day of the U20’s Australian Junior Championships.
Men’s Championship Game
Victoria vs Tasmania | 7pm
In what is expected to be an exciting Championship game, Victoria will take on Tasmania – matching up some of Australia’s best junior players.
Victoria’s Dejan Vasiljevic, Jack White, Abi Akintola and Tom Wilson will go up against their Australian U19 squad teammates Tanner Krebs and Kyle Clark. We’re in store for some quality basketball on the final day of this tournament.
Tasmania has leaned on Krebs and Clark for a lot of the tournament, while also getting a good contribution inside from Cameron Brown. Krebs is one of the best point guards in the country so it’ll be important for him to control the pace of the game, especially with Victoria’s tendency to run the floor. Kyle Clark has shown his ability to create shots for others throughout the week, but he’ll likely look to be aggressive scoring the ball in this one – with Tasmania needing a big scoring performance from the St Mary’s signee.
Tom Wilson will be the leader for this Victorian squad, and will likely look to get his bigs involved early. The 3-man front-court rotation of Jock Perry, Abi Akintola and Matt McCarthy have been able to dominate the paint all tournament and they’re expected to do the same in this game. Tasmania’s Cameron Brown will be a huge factor in this game as he’ll look to slow down Victoria’s bigs, something that will likely be a challenge.
The last time these 2 teams matched up, Victoria came away with the 71-50 victory. Victoria was able to dominate the boards while Tasmania struggled from the field. Dejan Vasiljevic had a great shooting game while Jack White was a huge factor on both ends of the floor. Tasmania’s Joe Chilcott can be the x-factor in this game – with the defence likely to focus on Krebs and Clark, it’ll be important for Chilcott to knock down his open looks.
As has been the case all week, Victoria has used their size and depth to cruise throughout to the Championship game of this tournament. Tasmania has come up with big games when they mattered but it’s tough to see them competing for the entire 40 minutes against this deep Victorian squad. Regardless, we’re surely in for an amazing game.
Dejan Vasiljevic: 17.14 ppg, 3.57 rpg
Tom Wilson: 12.71, 4.71 rpg, 3.57 apg
Tanner Krebs: 16.57 ppg, 5.29 rpg
Kyle Clark: 13 ppg, 6.14 rpg
Women’s Championship Game
Victoria vs Western Australia | 5pm
The women’s Championship game will see an incredibly deep Victorian squad face a Western Australia squad that has thrived in the back-end of this tournament.
Victoria was always a favourite to make it to this point in the tournament, with a total of 6 players who have played for an Australian junior national team. Western Australia aren’t too far behind in that regard, with a total of 3 Australia representatives.
The key matchup heading into this game is Victoria’s Alanna Smith going up against Western Australia’s Megan McKay. Smith, who is a Stanford signee, has been the best player in this tournament – consistently dominating the paint on both ends of the floor. She’ll go up against McKay, who is a St Mary’s signee. McKay has the size and length to compete inside and is an excellent rebounder but it’ll be tough with the likes of Victoria’s Georgia Pineau also looking to do her work inside the paint.
The last time these 2 teams faced each saw Victoria come away with a close 59-54 victory. Although the game was close, it must be noted that Victoria played their key players for limited minutes – so we’ll likely be in for a completely different kind of game.
The matchup between Australian U17 teammates Alex Sharp and Madeleine Dennis will also be fun to watch. Both have similar games, with the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter while using their athleticism to get to the paint. Sharp has been particularly impressive in this tournament from an efficiency perspective, as well as pushing the ball up the floor quickly to get Victoria easy baskets in transition. Western Australia’s Mikayla Pirini will bring some experience so this is the perfect time for her to step up, just like she did in their semifinal matchup.
Victoria’s depth is what has won them so many of these tournaments in the past and this year is no different. Having Australian representatives Rachel Antoniadou and Ella Hellessey coming off the bench will be huge for Victoria. Western Australia has their own weapon off the bench in Ashlee Sidebottom, who has been consistent all tournament as an offensive catalyst off the bench.
Just like their male counterparts, Victoria will look to use their size and depth to hopefully run away with this game early. Transition defence will be extremely important for Western Australia, as will knocking down their perimeter jump-shots. WA won’t get easy looks inside the paint so it’s important for them to hit some perimeter shots early in an attempt to stretch the defence and open up the paint.
Alanna Smith: 19.86 ppg, 8.86 rpg
Alex Sharp: 13 ppg, 10.14 rpg
Ashlee Sidebottom: 13.29 ppg, 5.86 rpg
Madeleine Dennis: 12.14 ppg, 8.14 rpg
The Grand Final games are expected to be live streamed – the links to those live streams will be released via my Facebook and Twitter pages. A dunk contest will take place at half-time of the Men’s Grand Final game.