Nunawading Spectres (20-6) vs Geelong Supercats (18-8), Nunawading Stadium, 2pm Sunday, September 11. Geelong image courtesy KBWilson images.
SEABL SOUTH CONFERENCE FINAL PREVIEW
Nunawading Spectres (20-6) vs Geelong Supercats (18-8), Nunawading Stadium, 2pm Sunday, September 11
Nunawading must be considered favourites to win the South conference title. They defeated Geelong on this court only two weeks ago, and they have lost at home only twice this year. Since their last defeat at Nunawading Stadium way back in round 5, the Spectres have strung together eleven straight wins at home, and they seem to have the pieces in place to advance to the SEABL final: depth, talent, astute coaching, home court advantage, momentum, chemistry and a mental advantage over their opponents.
Geelong might not seem to be in the same form as Nunawading, but the thing about the Supercats is they know how to lift when it counts. Against Sandringham last week, Geelong looked average in the first half, only to make the necessary adjustments and come away winners. The Supercats can adapt and change as the situation demands, and must be motivated by the opportunity to go back to back. But the fact they took a while to get going against the Sabres also suggests they are not at their absolute peak.
Chris Cameron may not be in the top two centres in the league, but he wouldnít be far off it. The 29-year-old has evolved into an exceptional player who often beats opponents through a combination of experience, strength, shooting range and surprising quickness. Shane McDonald would be close to a first-choice point guard for many coaches. Strong on both sides of the body, aggressive on the drive, a threatening perimeter shooter, and an outstanding passer Ė a fantastic point guard all round.
Can anyone stop John Pichon? The Geelong import has racked up double-doubles in all but three games this year and was again at his sublime best against Sandringham. Somehow able to find space to operate in confined spaces, Pichon frequently eludes opponents with his agility, but still has the strength and touch to make contested shots. Despite injury, Ismail Muhammad is a champion player and cannot be counted out, and he will no doubt be figuring large in the Spectres defensive plans.
Maalo Hicks is an exciting player to watch. The 22-year-old is still a touch raw, but with his strength and speed, he would be a starter on most other teams. More importantly, his presence allows head coach Dave Biwer to start both Simon Conn and Cameron, and ensures that the Spectres presence inside is maintained when he comes off the bench to give the starters a rest.
After showing plenty of promising signs early on, Jamie Medved has battled with injury and perhaps has not reached the level we know he is capable of this year. Like Ismail Muhammad, the Geelong co-captain is a fierce competitor who wears is heart on his sleeve, and can generate infectious enthusiasm if he knocks a few shots down or makes a couple of big plays.
Key Match ups
Luke Kendall vs Nathan Herbert
Kendall and Herbert have similar game styles. Both are deadly accurate shooters, and both are key players in teams loaded with talent. Both are vastly experienced and both have spent time in the NBL. This should prove to be a first-rate match up against two of the classiest players in the competition.
Chris Cameron vs Seb Loader
Seb Loader is often the unheralded player in the Supercats starting five. He does a fantastic job of banging bodies against tougher opponents and knows his role in the team. But this week the Geelong centre will be stretched to the limit against Cameron, and he must prove to be an influence so that John Pichon isnít asked to do too much in the paint.
Previous Meetings This Year
South Semi Final #1
Nunawading 96 def Geelong 76 @ Nunawading
Geelong 102 def Nunawading 94 @ Geelong
Nunawading 92 def Geelong 80 @ Nunawading
If Muhammad and Medved arenít too hampered by injury, if Geelong donít have a slow start, and if the Spectres stars can all be kept in check, the Sueprcats can win this game. But thatís a lot of ďifísĒ, and itís tough to see everything falling in their favour.
Prediction: Nunawading by 8.