The pool games are over and we’re heading into the quarterfinals stages of the U16’s Australian Junior Championships. As has been the trend all year long, VIC Metro are the favourites in both men’s and women’s divisions – both undefeated with no signs of slowing down. We bring you our preview of the quarterfinal matchups.
NSW Country vs SA Country
NSW Country picked up a very impressive win over SA Metro in their last pool game to secure the top spot in their pool. They play a very balanced game, with the scoring load being spread amongst the team. The play of point guard Lachlan Dent will be key for NSW Country, he’s shown glimpses of brilliance this tournament but has yet to find consistency with his play – he’s an extremely important part of their offence. The inside presence of Joel Rauch and Matur Maluach – both of whom also provide valuable length – will also be important for NSW Country in this quarterfinal matchup.
Ky Matthews-Hampton has shown his diverse game throughout this tournament and he’ll need to be on point for SA Country entering these quarterfinals. Matthews-Hampton is averaging 16.4 ppg and is shooting a blistering 53% from beyond the arc – a stat that’s unmatched so far this tournament. His scoring, along with the scoring of Max Scott – who has also been very efficient – will need to be at its usual productive level if SA Country is going to get points on the board. NSW Country boasts the best defensive rating amongst all men’s squads so far this tournament (only allowing 61.4 ppg) so taking care of the ball will be crucial for SA Country – every possession counts.
New Zealand vs ACT
New Zealand has been one of the most pleasantly surprising teams at this year’s tournament. The brilliant play of Unique Naboa and Samuel Waardenburg led them to a 5-1 record in the pool games and the favourite to take out this quarterfinal matchup. Naboa has a great feel for the game and has the ability to pick his spots very well on the offensive end, he’s averaging 15.3 ppg entering the game. Waardenburg has been a monster on the glass – averaging 10.3 ppg & 11 rpg – and will be an important post presence for New Zealand as ACT don’t possess much height or length.
ACT has relied on William Cooper for a lot of their scoring, and don’t expect that to change. Although he’s shown to be turnover prone, Cooper will need to be at his best on the offensive end for ACT to have the best chance at advancing through this quarterfinal. Broderick Doran will be another key player on the offensive end for ACT – ordinarily a very capable 3-point shooter, he’s is in a bit of a shooting slump from beyond the arc over his last few games. Both Cooper and Doran will need to focus on their efficiency, especially attacking the athleticism of the New Zealand Perimeter defenders.
VIC Metro vs SA Metro
VIC Metro are the clear favourites to go all the way in this tournament, they have great depth at every position and haven’t really looked like giving up a game so far. Aidan O’Carroll (14.5 ppg, 49% FG) has shown to be a very reliable scorer for this squad and is in fine form entering these quarterfinals. Team captain Patrick Bines had a slow start to the tournament but has picked it up at just the right time – having a huge game in VIC Metro’s most recent win against NSW Country. With the solid guard play of Christopher Cagle and Lachlan Brown off the bench, this VIC Metro squad will be hard to beat.
SA Metro are a squad with a lot of potential but unfortunately haven’t played up to their capabilities. They have a very rounded team, with the ability to hurt you both on the inside and outside. Biar Garang (7 ppg, 8.6 rpg) has had a relatively quiet tournament and will need to step up his activity – his play on the inside is key for the effectiveness of perimeter players Koen Sapwell, Oscar Bloomfield and Mitchell Squire – all of whom have had impressive yet inconsistent showings thus far. VIC Metro are the clear favourites to take this game but SA Metro’s volume shooting, in particular from beyond the arc, could keep them in this one.
NSW Metro vs VIC Country
NSW Metro has had an excellent tournament to date, with their only loss coming to VIC Metro in Day 4’s action. The offensive versatility of Bankstown’s Dragan Elkaz has provided a great lift for this squad as he’s averaging an admirable 17 ppg & 5.2 rpg. For a team that doesn’t have the same level of individual talent that we’ve seen from others in this tournament, they’ve shown that if every player accepts their role and ‘buys in’ then you can be successful. Chol Adup (8.2 ppg & 8.4 rpg) has great length and has done a great job rebounding finishing around the rim while Aaron Waban (10.4 ppg, 53% FG) has been extremely efficient.
VIC Country is another team that has been quietly impressive in this tournament, going under the radar for the most-part of the pool games. They’re another example of a team without the most impressive individual talent, but instead the focus is spread amongst the group. A standout, however, would be the play of Jai Nanscawen. Nanscawen has a great nose for the ball and is a catalyst for VIC Country on both ends of the floor. For a team that doesn’t possess immense height, they’ll need to put an emphasis on rebounding the ball – something that NSW Metro has taken advantage of in the former stage of this tournament.
NSW Country vs NSW Metro
NSW Country has been led by the solid play of Jasmine Simmons, who has proven to be one of the most talented female prospects in this tournament – averaging 19 ppg, 12.8 rpg & 3.4 apg. She’s been incredibly efficient and does a great job attacking the boards, her effort and intensity providing a great lift for the rest of the squad. Her impressive play in the paint opens up the floor for the perimeter players on this NSW Country squad, Emily Matthews and Cassidy Mclean being the main beneficiaries of the open looks. With an extremely reliable inside presence already in place for this squad, it’ll come down to how well they shoot the ball that will determine whether or not they continue in this tournament.
The play of Elle Carroll (13.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg & 3.4 apg) will be key for NSW Metro entering this quarterfinal matchup. She’s leading the tournament in assists and her versatility has been a major factor to this success of this squad. NSW Metro will also need a big game from Dijana Milisic, she’s had some very solid games but hasn’t played to her potential – her height being key when matching up against Jasmine Simmons. Milly Yates has the ability to be a great scorer and playmaker from the perimeter but hasn’t been in form lately, this quarterfinal game will be a good time for her to get back into rhythm.
QLD South vs SA Country
Queensland South’s Jayden Fuiava is one of the top prospects in this tournament and will look to continue her solid play in this quarterfinal matchup. Averaging 18.2 ppg & 7 rpg, Fuiava has done most of her damage inside the paint and has shown to be a more than capable defender. Along with Emily Preston, Fuiava will be a key player in keeping SA Country’s Brenna Mckay off the glass.
Mckay has been extremely productive on the rebounding front, with her activity level unmatched in this tournament. She’s averaging an outstanding 12.2 ppg, 16.8 rpg (8.2 Off) and is the main catalyst for SA Country’s unique brand of basketball – with the ball getting pounded down low at every opportunity. With QLD South not possessing a large amount of size or length, look for SA Country to establish Mckay and Shayelan Paech inside early in the hopes of opening things up for Tenille Gray, their most capable scorer from the perimeter.
SA Metro vs ACT
SA Metro has been on a great run to start this tournament, going a very impressive 5-1 to finish at the top of their table. The squad is led by Samantha Simons (15 ppg & 7.4 rpg) who’s versatility has been on show in the pool games. She’s lucky enough to be surrounded by a diverse group of players, in particular Darcy Rees has shown to be extremely valuable for this squad. Rees brings great energy to both ends of the floor and shoots the ball at an incredibly high clip – both Rees and Simmons will be key to bringing down this smaller ACT side.
Although small, ACT has managed to do an admirable job rebounding the ball. Callie Bourne, who is ACT’s most prominent guard, is averaging an extraordinary 10.5 rpg – a number that is unheard of for someone of her size and points to the effort she brings to the floor. Rosemary Schweizer (13.3 ppg & 7.8 rpg) will ultimately need to be a focal point of this ACT squad moving forward. Schweizer’s ability to score inside, as well as protect the paint on the defensive end, will be extremely important and a big game from her will be a key factor in whether ACT will be able to get the best of SA Metro.
VIC Metro vs VIC Country
The VIC Metro women’s squad is the most dominant team in this tournament and it’s not even close. Najvada George (13.6 ppg & 3.6 rpg) has continued her fine form from last year’s tournament and is having another outstanding showing while Ezi Magbegor (11.2 ppg, 12.2 rpg & 7 bpg) has seemingly come out of nowhere to ultimately be the most intriguing female prospect Australia has seen in years. With their ability to defend the paint and the offensive firepower coming off the bench, it’ll be a tough task for this VIC Country side in this quarterfinal matchup.
VIC Country has been led by Jazmin Shelley (9.8 ppg & 4 rpg) and Abbey Sutherland (8.6 ppg & 6.8 rpg). Shelley has dominated the ball and has shown the ability to create for herself, and for others, off the dribble. However without a true post presence, it’ll be a tough night for VIC Metro as they’ll have trouble dealing with VIC Metro’s size and length.
Although interstate games are often the most physical and scrappy of them all, look for this game to have a different feel. Both teams tend to focus on getting the ball inside but finesse seems to be the focus as opposed to just banging in the post. Both squads are also low-turnover teams, so a very clean and free-flowing game is expected.