Australian U20 National’s – Men’s and Women’s Championship Game Previews

We’ve had an incredible tournament. Throughout the past week, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing an array of great basketball. So after 6 days of men’s and women’s competition, we’re down to the respective championship games. The men’s championship game will see Victoria face Queensland, while the women’s championship will see two undefeated teams go head to head, namely Victoria and NSW.

Credit: Kangaroo Photos

Before we get to the championship game previews, I’ll take this time to offer my thanks and gratitude to everyone who made this tournament a great one. The referees, statisticians, coaches, managers, and of course the athletes competing in both the U20’s championships and the inspiring men and women competing in the Ivor Burge Championships. Congratulations are also in order for Basketball Australia staff, in particular those who run the online portion of the tournament, putting in countless hours into their online content so the public can stay up to date with all of the action. They’ve done a tremendous job all tournament.

Now, on to the championship games!

Men’s championship: Victoria vs Queensland

Victoria remains undefeated as they enter the championship game. They’re a unit that has been playing together for a while so it seems as though they’re firing on all cylinders. Queensland’s only loss this tournament was to this Victoria team in the pool rounds --that was a 22-point loss-- so here’s hoping Queensland can make some adjustments in order to compete.

Probable starters

Victoria Michael Luxford Matthew Jackson George Blagojevic Jack Purchase Geremy McKay

Queensland Jason Ralph Joshua Spiers Jack McVeigh Tim Weigh Joseph Owens

When Victoria faced Queensland in the pool rounds, they were able to dominate the offensive glass and the paint. Although Jack McVeigh’s rebounding numbers put him at 3rd in the tournament (9.6 rpg), Queensland will need to do a much better job at rebounding as a team. Another huge factor in Victoria’s win a few days ago was their ability to dominate the paint – they had a 52-28 advantage in points in the paint.

Queensland just doesn’t have the height and length to matchup effectively with Victoria. With the way Victoria defends and rebounds as a team, it’ll be hard for Queensland to compete down low.

The hope for Queensland is on the shoulders of Jack McVeigh, the dynamic forward has been incredible all tournament. His length and athleticism is something Victoria can’t match – McVeigh was able to drop 32 pts & 9 rbs on Victoria in their previous matchup. If he’s able to dominate offensively, as well as putting more focus on rebounding – something he’s more than capable of doing – then this Queensland team has a chance of competing in this one.

It will be interesting to see who initially gets matched up up with McVeigh. Jack Purchase being matched up with McVeigh makes a lot of sense. Both are forwards who like to stretch the floor; Purchase has a couple of inches on McVeigh so his height and length could pose problems for him. McVeigh, however, has superior speed so I don’t think Purchase would be able to stay in front of him when he’s attacking from the perimeter. The other choice would be Geremy McKay – McKay prides himself in his toughness on the defensive end so there’s no doubt he’d jump at the opportunity to guard a player of McVeigh’s ability. McKay possesses far superior strength, but against it’s a question of whether he’ll be able to stay in front of McVeigh.

All things considered, I think we’re in for a great championship game. The differing styles will be interesting to look at throughout the game; on one hand we have Queensland have the leading scorer in the tournament (Jack McVeigh with 28.8 ppg), and on the other hand we have Victoria, a team that doesn’t even have anyone in the top 5 in scoring in the tournament. That’s a testament to the team culture they’ve created within the squad, and quite frankly, the brilliant effort by Michael Luxford (1st in assists with 4.8 a game) at running the point.

Key Matchup: Jack Purchase/Geremy McKay vs Jack McVeigh

Championship prediction: Victoria

Women’s championship: Victoria vs New South Wales

Both NSW and Victoria have progressed through this tournament undefeated so it would seem that we’re in for an exciting championship game.

Probable starters

Victoria Carly Turner Louise Brown Abigail Wehrung Alanna Smith Lauren Scherf

New South Wales Liisa Ups Katherine Ups Georgia Ohrdorf Alliyah Fareo Alex Delaney

Both Victoria and NSW play quite similarly; they crash the boards quite well, defend well as a team, and have some dynamic offensive pieces. They’re also teams that have yet to face a genuine threat in the tournament thus far – barring Victoria’s close win over Queensland in the semifinals. It seems as though we’re in for an enjoyable matchup, with NSW able to match Victoria’s height and length.

An advantage that Victoria possesses is their depth, particularly off the bench. Australian Representatives Rachel Antoniadou and Kasey Burton have provided a terrific spark off the bench, something that NSW just can’t match. That will be key as the game progresses, if NSW can sustain their play when their second unit is on the floor.

An exciting matchup to keep an eye on will be the battle down low, Lauren Scherf and Alliyah Fareo. Both have done a great job of protecting the paint and being a reliable offensive weapon on the low block for their respective teams. Scherf recently attended an Australian Opals camp so no doubt that experience has been a big factor in leading her team to an undefeated tournament thus far – as well as ranking in the top 5 in both points, 17.4 ppg (4th), and rebounds, 10.4 (2nd). Fareo has been a model of consistency all tournament, shooting an extremely impressive 58% from the field (1st among all players above 20 mpg).

Key matchup: Lauren Scherf vs Alliyah Fareo

Championship prediction: Victoria

It really has been a great all-round tournament and I think it’s safe to say that we’re in for two high quality championship games.

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