U18's Australian Junior Championships - Quarterfinals Previews

The preliminary rounds are over and we have our quarterfinals matchups ready to go underway. At this point in the tournament it’s interesting to point out that Victoria is yet to drop a game, both men’s and women’s Metro and Country teams remain undefeated and are the clear frontrunners in every division.

Credit: Kangaroo Photography and Basketball Australia

Men’s Quarterfinals

VIC Metro vs New Zealand

Vic Metro had a key win over NSW Country to attain the #1 spot in their pool. They’ll face a New Zealand squad that has shown signs of brilliance at times this tournament. With VIC Metro guard Dejan Vasiljevic struggling from downtown, he’s found a way to contribute in other facets of the game – particularly doing a great job crashing the boards. Tom Wilson has picked up the scoring load for VIC Metro while Abi Akintola has controlled the pace and energy of the game.

The battle of the big men will be the main story in this game. VIC Metro have thrived offensively thanks to their versatile big-men. Abi Akintola and Michael D’Agostino have a great high-low game while Sebastiano Lamonato provides some extremely important minutes off the bench. They’ll be matched up against Matthew Freeman and Sioeli Vaiangina – both of whom have had impressive tournaments thus far. Both are extremely long and will cause a lot of problems for VIC Metro’s bigs.

Key Matchup: Abi Akintola vs Matthew Freeman


NSW Country vs NSW Metro

This battle of NSW is sure to be an exciting one. In what’s essentially a rematch of last years U16’s National Championship game, there’ll definitely be an added intensity to this matchup. NSW Country has had an impressive tournament, dropping only one game entering the quarterfinal. NSW Metro started off slowly, dropping their first 2 games – they have since won 4 in a row and are rolling entering this quarterfinal matchup.

Kouat Noi and Isaac Humphries have had great tournaments for their respective teams up to this point, and no doubt their solid play will continue. They’ve both been extremely efficient and have proven to be 2 of the best young big-men in the country.

NSW Country have suffered a few injuries this tournament, especially in their most recent game against VIC Metro. This may open the door for NSW metro to potentially steal this one.

Key Matchup: Kouat Noi vs Isaac Humphries


QLD North vs SA Metro

SA Metro began this tournament 4-0 and was turning some heads; they’ve since lost 2 in a row and are looking to get back on track. Queensland North can flat-out score the ball but have some defensive deficiencies that have caused them to be on the losing end of some blow-outs.

Harry Froling is leading the tournament in scoring, albeit inefficiently, and in rebounding. The old adage is that ‘you can’t teach height’, and that’s the case with this matchup. The matchup just doesn’t favor SA Metro – Froling is 6’9 and will tower over the opposing frontcourt players. SA Metro will need to contain Froling if they’re looking to compete in this quarterfinal. For SA Metro on the offensive end, Nick Fassos and Will Gleeson will be key in creating shots for both themselves and for others.

Key Matchup: Harry Froling vs Brent Hank


VIC Country vs Tasmania

VIC Country have had an amazing run and are 6-0 entering quarterfinal play. Jack White has been one of the top performers in the tournament – averaging 23.3 ppg and 10.3 rpg through their unbeaten streak. Tasmania started off slowly, osing their first 3 games of the tournament – they’ve since rebounded to win their last 3 and only just clinched the 4th spot in their pool with a win over SA Country.

Kyle Clark is putting up some great numbers as Tasmania seems to be rolling – however Clark’s statistics seem to drop off against bigger competition. VIC Country boast a frontcourt of Tim Molloy (7’0) and Jacob Pupavac (6’9) and will likely cause problems all match long for Clark.

Tasmania will need to find a way to contain Jack White, who’s been on a scoring tear this tournament. His ability to score efficiently both inside and outside will cause some matchup problems for Tasmania. White should be commended on the great shots he’s taking, not forcing anything and letting the energy come to him – he’s shooting 57% from the field and 58% from 3-point range – a telling sign of his great shot selection.

Key Matchup: Jack White vs Kyle Clark


Women’s Quarterfinals

Credit: Kangaroo Photography and Basketball Australia

Credit: Kangaroo Photography and Basketball Australia

NZ vs VIC Country

VIC Country has done a great job getting the ball inside, getting easy baskets in the paint – they also defend the paint extremely well en route to a 5-0 start. New Zealand started this tournament really well, looking like one of the teams to beat behind the stellar play of Connie Poletti and Kayla Manuirirangi. They’ve since dropped off, losing 3 of their last 4 games.

VIC Country is anchored by their bigs – Ella Hellesey, Chloe Bibby and Chantel Horvat have all quad quality tournaments, doing a great job dominating the paint and grabbing every rebound in sight. Bibby has been one of the most productive players in the tournament, averaging 19.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg on 58% FG in VIC Country’s unbeaten start.

If NZ want any chance of controlling the paint and limiting VIC Country’s bigs’ effectiveness, then they’ll need a strong game from Shalae Salmon. Salmon has been quiet all-tournament until her breakout game yesterday against SA Country – where she totaled 18 pts and 12 rbs. She’ll need a similar performance if she wants to compete with the likes of Bibby and Horvat.

Key Matchup: Shalae Salmon vs Chloe Bibby


SA Country vs NSW Country

There’ll be some great talents on the floor when SA Country takes on NSW Country. The player of the tournament so far would definitely be Jasmine Forcadilla, the NSW Country co-captain averaging 26.4 ppg and 3.8 apg. SA Country have one of the top bench performers in Hannah Stewart and have a dominant player of their own in Demi Skinner.

The guard combo of Forcadilla and Elizabeth Tonks will be the key factor in this game. The NSW Country guards are playing at an extremely high level on both end of the floor and are scoring with ease. In particular, SA Country will need to look to contain Jasmine Forcadilla. Forcadilla has had 20+ points in 4 out of her 5 games and his the most in-form player in the tournament.

For SA Country, the play of Sarah Elsworthy will be key. She’s doing a great job sharing the ball and creating plays for her teammates – leading the tournament in assists with 4.2 apg. She’ll likely be matched up with Elizabeth Tonks, a matchup that doesn’t particular favor SA Country. Tonks is a capable defender and will make life difficult for Elsworthy, potentially throwing her and her team off rhythm.

Key Matchup: Sarah Elsworthy vs Jasmine Forcadilla


NSW Metro vs SA Metro

NSW Metro have had their ups and downs in this tournament, their downs coming against opponents with size despite their own solid frontcourt. This shouldn’t be a problem as SA Metro’s guards are the forefront of their offense.

There’s no doubt that NSW Metro’s Tahlia Tupaea is one of the most intriguing talents in this tournament. Her heroics in yesterday’s game against WA Metro were thrilling, and she remains one of the most enjoyable players to watch. They key for NSW Metro, however, will be how they utilize their size advantage. Dani Milisic should be able to dominate the paint against a relatively small SA Metro team. Ella Tofaeono is the leading rebounder for NSW Metro and will be a key player coming off the bench as they look to pound the ball down low early.

SA Metro has a plethora of quality guards and will likely look to run NSW Metro out of the gym. Morgan Yaeger and Taylor Ortlepp are both Australian representatives and are both capable of taking over games. Their partnership with Jade Johnson has been a joy to watch this tournament – Johnson has averaged 17.6 ppg as the defense focuses on their star guards.

Key Matchup: Tahlia Tupaea vs Morgan Yaeger


VIC Metro vs QLD South

VIC Metro has been one of the top teams this tournament, running teams out of the gym while also finding a way to utilize their size. QLD South started the tournament 0-2 and has since won 3 straight. The struggled against VIC Country in their tournament opener, which isn’t a great sign considering the similarities between the VIC Country and VIC Metro squads.

VIC Metro are an extremely productive team – they have the ability to run in transition but can also dominate in the half court game due to their overwhelming size. This is in part to the versatility of Alexandra Sharp and the athleticism of their star center Anneli Maley. Maley is averaging 14.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg and is having an impressive tournament to date. Sharp is a unique player – She’s a great ball handler for her size and her versatility on both ends of the floor make her a tough matchup for any opponent.

QLD South also has an impressive frontcourt, led by Australian representative Bride Kennedy-Hopoate. Hopoate has been an inconsistent performer this tournament but considering her pedigree, she would look to step up as the games are more significant. Bridget O’Brien has also had a solid stretch of games as QLD South powered through the back end of their pool games. Look for those 2 to attempt to slow down the onslaught of the VIC Metro bigs.

Key Matchup: Alexandra Sharp vs Bridget O’Brien


Schedule:

Men’s

SA Metro vs QLD North – 1pm – Belconnen Court 4

VIC Country vs Tasmania – 3pm – Belconnen Court 1

NSW Country vs NSW Metro – 5pm – Belconnen Court 4

VIC Metro vs New Zealand – 7pm – Belconnnen Court 1

Credit: Kangaroo Photography and Basketball Australia

Women’s

VIC Country vs New Zealand – 1pm – Belconnen Court 1

NSW Country vs SA Country – 3pm – Belconnen Court 4

VIC Metro vs QLD South – 5pm – Belconnen Court 1

NSW Metro vs SA Metro – 7pm – Belconnen Court 4