Semifinals Preview | 2014 U16 Australian Junior Championships
The quarterfinals games of this tournament are over and we're down to the final 4 teams in each division. The overwhelming trend remains the dominance of NSW and Victorian sides but will the likes of SA Metro, Queensland South, or even New Zealand, be able to fight their way into the grand final games? We bring you our preview of the semifinals matchups heading into the penultimate day of action.
NSW Country vs NSW Metro
The first men's semifinal of this year's tournament is NSW interstate battle. NSW Country have played a very balanced game thus far and it has served them well. Their quarterfinal victory over SA Country was a clear example of that with every starter scoring in double digits. Matur Maluach continues to be a force on both ends of the floor, his length and athleticism proving to be invaluable to this NSW Country squad while Jaydin Goodwin has provided a great spark of the bench.
Kyle Zunic - NSW Country | Credit: Basketball Australia/Kangaroo Photo's
NSW Metro will continue to run their stuff through Aaron Waban, who's been extremely effective throughout the latter part of this tournament. Dragan Elkaz has been on a scoring tear this tournament and doesn't look like slowing down - he's the 2nd leading scorer so far in the tournament and has been shooting at an impressive 48%. Also expect a big game off the bench from Penrith's Kevin Achampong, who uses his length and athleticism to seemingly grab every rebound available. He'll be a big factor off the bench for this squad, particularly his interior defence.
A great matchup to watch out for will be Aaron Waban (NSWM) and Lachlan Dent (NSWC). Both do a great job controlling the pace for their respective teams and would be considered 2 of the best playmakers in the tournament. Waban had a near triple-double in NSW Metro's quarterfinal matchup - totalling 12 pts, 9 rbs & 10 asts. Dent had a slow start to the tournament but has since picked up his game, he's shooting the ball at a much more efficient rate while limiting his turnovers.
New Zealand vs VIC Metro
New Zealand has had a terrific tournament to date and will now face their hardest task yet in an undefeated VIC Metro squad. New Zealand will be led by their big-man Samuel Waardenburg, who has shown to be one of the most talented front-court players in this year's tournament. Waardenburg is leading the tournament in rebounds (11 rpg) and will likely be the main focus as they face a VIC Metro squad that, aren't a small team by any means, but aren't overwhelmingly tall.
Samuel Waardenburg - New Zealand | Credit: Basketball Australia/Kangaroo Photo's
VIC Metro have an extremely rounded squad with no real 'go-to' player. They manage to move the ball extremely well which leads to a number of open looks. Patrick Bines has proven to be an impressive talent but has yet to find any consistency on the offensive end while their most consistent offensive option, Aidan O'Carroll only played 8 minutes in their quarterfinal matchup versus SA Metro - presumably due to injury.
This game may come down to which bench can be most effective. Lachlan Brown and Christopher Cagle have been consistent forces off the bench for VIC Metro, knocking down perimeter jumpers while also having the ability to get into the lane and create for others. Bailey Lawrence has also been a great spark off the bench, providing good energy on both ends of the floor. New Zealand's bench mob also has a certain firepower that's vital for any teams' success - Thabo Manyere and Callum Mcrae consistently providing valuable minutes.
QLD South vs NSW Country
In the first women's semifinal we'll get to see 2 of the best scoring talents in the tournament go head to head - QLD South's Jayden Fuiava (16.1 ppg) and NSW Country's Jasmine Simmons (16.7 ppg).
QLD South has had an impressive run to these semifinals. They're led by Southern Districts' Jayden Fuiava who has been on a scoring tear in this tournament, with the ability to hurt you both inside and on the perimeter. She has also showed glimpses of her playmaking ability and, with Jessica McDowell-White, provide a very talented guard combo. Ula Motuga will be key for QLD South as she goes up against the likes of Cassidy McLean and Jasmine Simmons, who are both great finishers inside and rebound the ball at a very high rate. Motuga will be called upon to lift her intensity in a bid to slow down that NSW Country duo.
Jasmine Simmons is one of the best bigs in this tournament and will look to dominate this game - QLD South not being able to matchup very effectively. Simmons is shooting the ball at an incredibly high clip and will no doubt continue her great form entering this game. The play of Cassidy McLean and Emily Matthews cannot be understated - both have provided a lift for NSW Country, particularly on the offensive end. McLean and Matthews will be extremely important as QLD South will likely look to get the ball out of Simmons' hands, creating a lot of opportunities for McLean and Matthews to attack.
Jasmine Simmons - NSW Country | Credit: Basketball Australia/Kangaroo Photo's
VIC Metro vs SA Metro
VIC Metro continues to be the dominant force in this tournament, picking apart their Victorian counterpart in their quarterfinal matchup while SA Metro stepped it up on the defensive end to qualify for these semifinals. VIC Metro continues to be led by the impressive play of Najvada George and Ezi Magbegor. Although George struggled in the quarterfinal game against VIC Country she remains a focal part on the offensive end of the floor.
SA Metro plays a very aggressive game, crashing the boards hard and looking to get the ball inside whenever possible - something that will prove to be difficult with premier interior defender Ezi Magbegor in the game. SA Metro has been led by the outstanding play of Samantha Simons while Darcy Rees has been an important catalyst for the squad, bringing really good energy.
Both teams are great rebounding teams, especially on the offensive glass. They both have the tendency to have poor shooting stretches in games so putting an emphasis on rebounding the ball will be key. When it's all said and done, VIC Metro's depth may be too much to overcome.
Hannah Lehmann - SA Metro | Credit: Basketball Australia/Kangaroo Photo's