We’ve had 5 days of exciting basketball and we’re down to the final 4 teams in each division. We preview the semifinals match-ups of the U20’s Australian Junior Championships.
NSW vs Tasmania
The first men’s semifinal will see NSW take on Tasmania in a rematch of yesterday’s matchup. NSW managed to get the best of Tasmania during Day 5’s action, coming away with a 72-47 victory.
The 3-point shot will prove to be an important factor heading into this semifinal. St Mary’s signees Tanner Krebs and Kyle Clark, who are 2 of the best shooters in the country, have struggled from behind the arc in their past few games so they’ll be hoping to find their stroke early in this one. On the other hand, NSW has been the most effective team from behind the arc so far in this tournament. Dan Pitcher and Thomas Akamarmoi have done a great job knocking down shots off the bench, while Nicolas Pozoglou – who’s known more as a slasher – has also found his stroke.
NSW’s Jayden Hodgson may also prove to be a game-changer. The Australian U17 representative has been extremely efficient throughout the tournament and, although he hasn’t had any standout games, NSW is a much better team when he’s on the floor.
This game may come down to which team can assert their dominance inside the paint. When these teams matched up in Day 5 they were both comfortable with settling for perimeter jump-shots, but the inside play of NSW’s Jordan Hunter and Tasmania’s Cameron Brown will be the key. Hunter has done the majority of his work inside the paint while Brown is more comfortable stepping out and hitting from the midrange and beyond.
Nicolas Pozoglou: 15 ppg, 5 rpg
Jayden Hodgson: 12 ppg, 60% FG
Tanner Krebs: 15.17 ppg, 4.67 rpg
Kyle Clark: 12.83 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Victoria vs South Australia
Just like the other semifinal matchup, this game will see a rematch of Day 5’s action. In that game we saw both teams scoring the ball at will, with the game staying quite close throughout most of the 1st half. Back to back dunks from new University of Denver signee Abi Akintola and Jack White, respectively, saw Victoria gain some momentum heading into the 3rd quarter. Victoria managed to run away with the game – shooting an impressive 60% from the field.
South Australia has shown that they have some fight in them. They don’t possess the talent of some of the bigger states but their effort on both ends of the floor is what makes them special. Their bench will be the most important factor heading into the game – Nicholas Fassos, Kane de Wit and Monyjath Makoi have provided a great spark off the bench all tournament and they’ll need to be at the top of their game for SA to compete against an undefeated Victoria squad.
Victoria is a squad that looks unstoppable. Their size is unrivalled in this tournament and they have arguable the most talented backcourt in the tournament as well. Tom Wilson at the point has worked extremely well, especially considering his familiarity with the rest of the starters on the squad – all of whom are Centre of Excellence scholarship holders. Dejan Vasiljevic has scored with an improved consistency compared to recent years so that will be a huge factor for this squad.
Jock Perry, Abi Akintola and Matt McCarthy have all proved to be forces inside the paint while Matt Owies and Kai Woodfall have done a very impressive job leading the 2nd unit.
South Australia will put up a fight but the depth of Victoria may prove to be too much for them.
Dejan Vasiljevic: 16.83 ppg, 3.67 rpg
Tom Wilson: 12.17 ppg, 5.17 rpg, 3.17 apg
Kane de Wit: 12.5 ppg, 5.17 rpg
Monyjath Makoi: 11.67 ppg, 5.67 rpg
Victoria vs South Australia
Just like Victoria will take on South Australia in one of the men’s semifinal match-ups, the first women’s semifinal will see the same 2 states go at it.
The last time these 2 teams faced each other, Victoria came away with the 104-76 victory. SA’s Australian representatives, Demi Skinner and Taylor Ortlepp, put forward impressive performances in that game – but the rest of the team fell flat, leading to a blowout win for Victoria.
As has been the case all tournament, Victoria will use their size to control the paint on both ends of the floor. Alanna Smith has been the most impressive player in the tournament so look for her to step up her game even more. Victoria also has a tendency to get into transition, with Alex Sharp and Rachel Antoniadou running the break when they can. SA will need to take care of the ball and attempt to control the pace of the game, otherwise Victoria has the ability to put points on the board quickly.
This game may be close throughout the 1st quarter but, just like their male counterparts, Victoria’s depth will likely see them run away with it.
Alanna Smith: 20.83 ppg, 8.33 rpg
Alex Sharp: 12.17 ppg, 10 rpg
Demi Skinner: 19.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg
Taylor Ortlepp: 13.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 4.5 apg
NSW vs Western Australia
The 2nd women’s semifinal may end up being the most exciting game of the day. The last time these 2 teams faced each other it went down to the wire, with Annobel Starr hitting the game winner to give NSW the 52-51 win.
A key in that game was WA’s ability to dominate the glass. NSW’s Dani Milisic was in foul trouble for a lot of the game so WA’s Megan McKay was seemingly able to grab every rebound in sight. It’ll be important to get Milisic involved early to make sure she’s locked into the game, and active on both ends of the floor.
The pace of the game will also be important in this fixture, with NSW able to get up the floor very quickly to attack in semi-transition. Although WA’s Mikayla Pirini is a capable ball handler, she struggled with NSW’s pressure – leading to NSW pushing the ball up the floor. Elizabeth Tonks and Sara Anastasieska are 2 of the better athletes in this tournament so it’s important for WA to attempt to control the pace of the game.
Sara Anastasieska: 14.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg
Jasmine Forcadilla: 11.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Madeleine Dennis: 11.83 ppg, 7.83 rpg
Megan McKay: 9.67 ppg, 9.83 rpg