SEABL SEMI FINALS PREVIEW – EAST CONFERENCE GAME 2
Kilsyth Cobras (17-9) v Dandenong Rangers (13-13), Kilsyth Sports Centre, 8:15pm Saturday, August 27
Kilsyth are easily the hottest team in the competition right now. But despite having won eight games in a row, the Cobras have somehow managed to slip under the radar, going relatively unnoticed compared to teams like Frankston. Their current streak has included victories over competition leaders Nunawading and Bendigo, and their win in the last round over the Pioneers typifies just how good they are travelling, being only the third team this year to notch up a win in Mt Gambier.
Dandenong are probably the toughest team to read in terms of form going into the playoffs. Wins against Bendigo and Knox have been interspersed with losses to Canberra and Hobart. The Rangers also won’t relish playing away, with only five wins from 13 games on the road this season. But after coming from fifth place in round 18 to move past Ballarat and take the final playoff spot, the Rangers must feel like they are in good form and have nothing to lose.
Certainly a large part of Kilsyth’s success this season can be attributed to the frontcourt duo of Auryn MacMillan and Tim Lang. The pair returned from playing stints in Europe over the last off-season as more complete and polished players. Moreover, the last time these teams met back in round 7, Lang and McMillan shared the top scoring with 18 points each.
Luke Fitzgerald and Andrew Harms are the keys to Dandenong’s success. In games where Fitzgerald has 15 points or more, the Rangers are 10-6, but in games where he scores below 15 points, Dandenong’s record slips to 3-7. Harms easily leads the team in assists, and provides the best on-court leadership. Keep the pair quiet and Kilsyth’s chances of a win improve markedly.
When these teams met for the first time this season, Matt O’Hea had 34 points on 12-of-15 shooting including 6-of-7 from downtown. O’Hea has also found form as the season progressed: in the opening 12 games of the year, he reached double figures only four times, where as in the last 14 games, the guard has scored in double figures on all but two occasions.
Venky Jois is possibly the most exciting and talented youngster in the competition this season. His combination of speed, athleticism and height make him an especially tough cover, but it will be his first playoff experience at this level. If he can handle the added intensity of playoffs, Jois could be the key to any hopes to the Rangers success.
Key Match ups
Zach Malvick vs Andrew Harms
If it pans out, this would be possibly the best point-guard match up from all first round playoff games. Their numbers are almost identical: Malvick averages 15.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists compared to Harms 14.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg and 3.8 apg. Both have also improved as the season has progressed. If one starts to get on top, it could be a big factor in the eventual outcome.
Quincy Henderson vs Dusty Jura
Dusty Jura is a classy veteran. Often able to see above the defense from the wing, Jura influences so many Dandenong offences with a deft pass or a good screen. But in the two games between the teams this year, Jura’s numbers have been well below his season averages, possibly because of the attention from Henderson. Another negating role from Henderson this week, and the Rangers hopes of an upset win could be snuffed out.
Previous Meetings This Year
Kilsyth 104 def Dandneong 101 @ Dandenong (OT)
Kilsyth 73 def Dandenong 68 @ Kilsyth
Given Kilsyth’s impressive form and the Rangers mediocre away record, Dandenong will be huge underdogs. Every Dandenong player will have to play at their absolute limit against a Cobras side that must be looking to avenge their horrible exit from last years playoffs.
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