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2014 Australian Junior Championships: U20 Men & Women Preview
Australian Basketball Prospects previews the 2014 edition of the U20 Australian Junior Championships for both men and women.
Boasting some of the rising stars of Australian basketball, the Australian Junior Championships get underway in 2014 with the U20 event.
The 2014 edition is being hosted in Kalamunda, Western Australia and the tournament will bring together some of the brightest talent from each state to compete for the Australian Junior Championship gold medal. Many of this year’s U20 class will have competed in the U18 Championships last year that saw Victoria Metro winning the men’s tournament while Queensland North took out the women’s crown. Some current NBL and WNBL players will be competing in this tournament as well as some players you’ll see on a college roster at the beginning of next season.
When: Sunday, 16 February to Saturday, 22 February 2014
Where: Kalamunda, Western Australia (WA)
Access the full draw HERE
Players to Watch
Gerard MARTIN | NSW
Martin had a stretch of bad luck in 2013, starting with a stress fracture in his foot that kept him out for 4 months. Just as he was starting to get back onto the court he then injured his thumb, keeping him out of action for a few more weeks. Now it seems as though the 6’6 forward out of Sydney is looking to make his return to tournament basketball. He was a key contributor in the Australian U17 squad that won silver at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships and started for the national U19 squad later that year. Martin has been at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for a year now and has recently committed to Grand Canyon University; he’ll be looking to lead the New South Wales (NSW) Squad as one of the senior members of the team.
Fabijan KRSLOVIC | NSW
Another player that could be a huge factor for NSW is Fabijan Krslovic; another player from Sydney on the squad who has represented his country in the U17 and U19 squads. He’s a solid inside presence in a tournament that doesn't particularly boast a lot of dominant post players. His presence in the paint could be crucial for NSW, and playing alongside the primarily perimeter-based Martin, he could benefit from some quality inside looks.
Jack PURCHASE | VIC
On a stacked Victorian (VIC) team, it’s hard to single out players as it seems that there will be several that are likely to make key contributions to the team. However Purchase has a level of experience that could play a key role in ensuring Victoria’s success. The Auburn University commit who is currently training with the NBL’s Melbourne Tigers, was a member of the Australian U17 squad that won a silver medal at the 2012 FIBA World Championships and was an important inside presence in that tournament. The 6’8 power forward will be looking to bring not only his on-court talent to this squad, but also a much-needed experience to what seems to be a relatively young team.
Hamish BURNS | SA
Burns was a star at the Australian Schools Championships in December 2013 and will be looking to carry over that great play into this tournament. South Australia (SA) doesn't appear to have one of the strongest sides entering this tournament (relative to the other squads), but solid play from Burns might just propel them towards the medal round. He will most likely be required to play at is utmost best if SA is to progress that far.
Alliyah FAREO | NSW
Fareo is the only player in her squad who represented her country in 2013, so there’s no doubt that this 6’3 front court player will need to be aggressive right from the beginning. She has demonstrated that she can be a force inside the paint, averaging 7.2 points at 50% from the field with 5.2 rebounds at the FIBA U19 Pacific Championships. She’ll need to bring that kind of effort to this NSW squad, and if she does there’s no doubt that she will have a dominant tournament.
Alicia & Keely FROLING | QLD
The last time the Froling sisters were in an Australian Junior Championship, they were walking away with a gold medal. Alicia & Keely who both stand at 6’2", led Queensland (QLD) North to victory at the U18 Championships last year and will be looking to carry that over into this tournament. Their ability to control the boards and attack the lane will be vital to their team’s success; now with some WNBL experience up their sleeves, they’ll have the ability to lead their team both on and off the court.
Lauren SCHERF | VIC
Lauren Scherf has the ability to be the best player at this tournament. She’s had an impressive last couple of years, representing Australia in the U17 team in 2012 and more recently the U19 team late last year. The 6’5 Forward showed her amazing potential in leading her country with 19.5 points and 11 rebounds on a ridiculous 66% shooting at the FIBA Oceania Pacific Championships. Her confidence will be even higher considering she’s coming off an Australian Opals training camp appearance. Big things are expected of Scherf, and she is sure to deliver.
It seems inevitable that NSW and VIC will be the last teams standing when it comes down to the men’s gold medal contest. Both teams boast a vast amount of individual talent that would be expected to translate to wins. This of course would be a rematch of the U18 Men’s grand final from last year, a game that VIC won thanks to some late game heroics. Many of the players who were a part of the U18 tournament last year will be in action as a member of their respective U20 team in this tournament, so it wouldn't be surprising if the outcome was somewhat similar.
The obvious choice here would be Queensland; the Froling sisters are much improved since their stint commenced at the AIS, and Kristy Wallace (who was a part of the latest Opals training camp) will also be looking to make a solid contribution. It seems likely that QLD will still be around come the gold medal game and have a good chance of finishing this tournament as victors. You can’t however forget about the VIC squad; recent Opals training camp call-up Lauren Scherf and Australian U19 representative Brodie Theodore are a solid duo and can make this VIC squad extremely competitive. Therefore a QLD versus VIC Grand Final would not be surprising, and I don’t think anyone would be complaining either as it would surely be an exciting match-up.