SOUTH CONFERENCE SEMI-FINAL 2
Dandenong Rangers (16-8) v N/W Tasmania (13-11), Dandenong Stadium, 8.00pm Saturday, August 12
Equal to Ballarat and N/W Tasmania, Dandenong won three of their last four games of the season but a defeat at the hands of the Thunder in their final match saw them fall all the way from first to third and out of a double-chance. They now host a re-match against N/W Tasmania at Dandenong Stadium for the second time in a week.
A couple of clutch wins in the past two rounds against Bendigo (which knocked the defending Champions out of contention) and Dandenong saw N/W Tasmania clinch the fourth playoff position in the South Conference. They will take a heap of confidence from their win last weekend, which came after several plane delays that forced them to arrive just ten minutes before tip-off. They defied expectations though to run out 11-point victors on the back of a 43-32 fourth quarter.
N/W Tasmania are only the eighth most effective three-point shooting team in the competition but they have caught fire against the number-two defence in the league, hitting 11 and 12 three’s across two meetings with Dandenong. They have shot at a very nice 44% clip as well with Ahmad Starks (14-22 at 64% overall) the main culprit.
Dandenong: Arriving late as a replacement for Brennan McElroy, Garrett Jackson has played eight games for the season but it has all fallen into place as he now gears up for a clash against his old club in an Elimination Final. He had one of his best games against the Thunder last weekend, recording 20 points, nine rebounds and a steal but played just 27 minutes which is right on his average. Don’t be surprised if those minutes increase as we hit the post-season with Jackson a key piece of the puzzle for Dandenong.
N/W Tasmania: After a slow start to the season, Chudier Pal has come alive for the Thunder and now plays an integral role in their front court. He will likely have the defensive job on Tim Lang while also helping to keep Jackson quiet but his work at the offensive end cannot be discounted either, averaging 7.5 points on 57% shooting. Foul trouble saw him have minimal impact in Round 18 but that could be the only thing stopping him from improving on his five double-doubles for the year this weekend.
Lucas Barker vs. Ahmad Starks
As stated above, Starks is a serious threat to the Rangers’ finals hopes, having proved to be a deadly shot from the three-point line while averaging 32 points, 4.5 rebounds and seven assists in two meetings. Barker will have to be at his best to contain the speedy point guard but has displayed impressive numbers himself, averaging 19 points, 4.5 boards and 4.5 assists. He does not need to be as much of a scorer as Starks for the home side to win but if he cannot restrict him from beyond the arc, the Rangers will suffer the same fate as last weekend.
Previous Meetings This Year
Round 8: Round 18:
N/W Tasmania 72 def. by Dandenong 79 Dandenong 97 def. by N/W Tasmania 108
@ N/W Tasmania @ Dandenong
N/W Tasmania were playing on pure adrenaline in Round 18 but it worked to their advantage with their starting five combining for 90 points on 56% shooting. Even with Pal in foul trouble, Jeremiah Ingram and Ben Richmond held down the front court with their athleticism proving a problem and Sepokas and Starks hurting them on the scoreboard. Dandenong’s depth has been a strength all season and the addition of Felix von Hofe has added to that but Brad Simpson countered with 12 points and ten rebounds last weekend. The Rangers will be desperate to bounce back and defend their home floor while Jackson could also have a big game against his old club but after their impressive showing last weekend, the Thunder have a slight edge.
Prediction: N/W Tasmania by 2.
|DAN||Jackson 16.5||Jackson 6.9||Barker 5.4|
|NWT||Starks 19.9||Ingram 8.1||Starks 3.3|