QBL Round 15 – Men’s Previews
USC Rip City v Townsville Heat
USC were able to pull away with an 18-point victory over Gladstone in Round 14. Gladstone jumped to an early 12-point quarter time lead, before USC picked up its defense and restricted the Power to just 27 points combined in the second and third quarters. Isaih Tueta was again the go-to man for Rip putting in 26 points to go with 10 boards. Townsville made light work of Logan who were on the second night of a back-to-back, running away with a 25-point victory. The Heat led by 23 at the main break and were then able to rest some of their starters, which may be pivotal come this weekend having to play three games. This matchup is extremely important for both sides, as it will have a major impact on the Top 4. Both sides are no certainties to finish in the 4, yet Townsville could finish 1st if they go 3-0. The Heat are the hottest team in the league, winning their past 5 games. We expect Townsville to get their weekend underway with a win, although it may come down to the wire.
Rockhampton Rockets v Cairns Marlins
The Rockets are coming off a disappointing 3-point home loss to the struggling Phoenix. With the Spartans going down in Round 14, Rockhampton had the opportunity to cement themselves a playoff berth with a victory, but were unable to hold onto a 17-point three quarter time lead and eventually went down in overtime. James Mitchell was on a triple double mission and finished with 18 points, 9 boards and 8 assists. The Marlins were able to fight back from a 12-point deficit against Logan to win by 6. July was a month to forget for Cairns, but they were able to finish with two home victories. Boasting just a 2-4 record away from Early Setter Stadium does not leave us with much confidence that Cairns will win this match, as they probably should being the superior team. With both sides having so much on the line, we couldn’t possibly pick a winner.
Sunshine Coast Phoenix v Townsville Heat
Sunshine Coast will be extremely happy with their 1-1 record from Round 14. They were able to knock off Rockhampton on Friday night, despite falling into a 17-point hole going into the last quarter. Jeromie Hill hit clutch three-pointers in the fourth and overtime on his way to a team-high 29 points. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same fairytale result on Saturday night, this time losing to the Mackay Meteors in overtime. CJ Massingale knocked down a huge three-pointer in the dying seconds of the fourth to send the game into the extra period. The team eventually went down by 11-points, although this score line was not reflective of such a tight contest. Breland Hogan was massive for the road team scoring a whopping 41 points. Despite being out of the playoff picture, Sunshine Coast have shown that they have something to prove in the dying rounds of the QBL season and we expect this contest to show nothing different. Although, with so much on the line for the travelling Heat, we expect them to scrape through with the W.
Brisbane Capitals v USC Rip City
Brisbane come into the final round of the QBL season with a commanding win over cross-town rivals the Spartans under their belt. The home team only managed an abysmal 8 points in the opening quarter to go into the first break down 20, although they were able to outscore the Spartans by 20 in the second to tie the match at the main break. Eventually the Capitals showed too much class and ran away 25-point victors. Princeton Onwas was able to net 36, whilst the Capitals welcomed back Aaron Anderson to the lineup and he managed 26 to go along with 9 boards and 7 dimes. Brisbane will finish on top of the QBL ladder if they are able to knock off USC and Townsville at home in consecutive games. Whilst USC will be coming off a home match against Townsville on the Friday night, this is also a must-win for them in order to cement home court throughout the playoffs. The Capitals should be able to defeat USC at home and send them into the bottom half of the playoffs.
Gold Coast Rollers v Toowoomba Mountaineers
These teams faced each other in Round 14, with Gold Coast thumping the Mountaineers by 40 points. Toowoomba would be embarrassed of their performance considered Gold Coast’s struggles over the course of the season and especially since Torrey Craig’s departure. Jalil Abdul-Bassit managed 28, although of 28 shots, whilst Manylok Malek had 15 to go along with his 19 boards. The Rollers managed to get six players into double digits, with Jaze Morris dropping a clear season-high 20 off the bench. Gold Coast also managed to tight 3-point victory over Ipswich on Friday night. This was the first of three overtime matches in the QBL in Round 14. Gold Coast had five players score 14 points or more, with Tobias Cameron being the high man with 20. With this matchup being played at the Gold Coast we expect them to get over the line easily, as Toowoomba will be looking forward to seeing the end of the 2017 season.
Ipswich Force v South West Metro Pirates
The Force suffered an agonizing 3-point loss to the Rollers in overtime in Round 14. Kyle Harvey was the game’s top scorer with an efficient 35, whilst teammate Jaryd Eustace put in 31 off 30 field goal attempts. Ipswich only managed 4 bench points for the contest, with 4 players being responsible for all but 7 off the team’s total points. South West continue their great form with a dominating 34-point win over last-placed Toowoomba. Jeremy Kendle continues to put the ball in the hoop, scoring a game-high 33, whilst big man Tanner McGrew had 26 to go with 15 rebounds. Jacob Allen and Jarred Bairstow also put up impressive numbers. Mick Downer would have been most impressed with the unselfish display from his squad, registering 32 assists for the match. With a Top 4 spot still a possibility for the Pirates we expect them to defeat the Force comfortably.
Gladstone Port City Power v Cairns Marlins
Gladstone are coming off a disappointing second half against USC at home in Round 14. Despite the 12-point quarter time lead, the Power eventually went down by 18 points. The Rip’s ability to limit Ray Willis in the second half was the difference in the turnaround and the league’s leading scorer will be looking forward to a big game this weekend. Cairns will again be looking to a victory in order to possibly cement a Top 4 position on the ladder, and home court advantage in week 1 of the playoffs. Regardless of ladder position, this match will be extremely competitive. Cairns will struggle to defend Ray (as most teams have all year), although their depth should be enough to lead them to a W.
Brisbane Spartans v South West Metro Pirates
The Spartans got out to a commanding 20-point quarter time lead over the Capitals before immediately giving it back to them and going into the major break with scores tied. The second half proved to be much of the second quarter, as the Capitals ran away comfortable winners. If Rockhampton lose to Cairns on Saturday night, a Spartans victory over South West will see them finish with the 8th seed going into the playoffs. The Pirates should be coming off a comfortable victory over Ipswich on Saturday night and with a Top 4 spot still on the line have as much to play for as the Spartans. Based on form of late, it is extremely difficult to see the Spartans upsetting the Pirates.
Brisbane Capitals v Townsville Heat
We save the best for last. There is every possibility that the winner of this match will finish on top of the QBL ladder and therefore have home court throughout the entirety of the playoffs. No doubt Townsville will come into this matchup on their last legs, with it being their third game in three days. Brisbane will also be coming off a challenging game the previous night against USC, although at NAB Stadium. The point guard matchup is extremely intriguing, with Aaron Anderson and Josh Wilcher going head to head. Whoever wins this one on one battle will go a long way to getting their team over the line. Regardless of both team’s results leading into Sunday, Brisbane will be the much fresher team and that should be enough to get them over the line, and potentially top spot on the ladder.
QBL Round 15 – Women’s Previews
USC Rip City v Townsville Flames
Rip City come into the final round of the season off a 15-point loss to the surging Gladstone Power. After plummeting to a 13-point quarter time deficit, USC never recovered. Brooke Le Mar was the star for the road team, scoring an efficient 26 points from 62% field goal shooting. Townsville destroyed the second-placed Thunder in Round 14 and will have all the momentum coming into this contest. Darcee Garbin put in a team-high 23 to go along with 9 boards, but she was aided by her other teammates who all hit double digits. With Townsville needing to win all three games in Round 15 to be any chance of cementing a Top 4 spot we expect them to begin their weekend in style and win comfortably on the road.
Rockhampton Cyclones v Cairns Dolphins
It has been a season to forget for the two-time reigning QBL champions, although they could finish the season on a positive note, by ending Cairns season Saturday night at Hevgold Stadium. Round 14 saw the Cyclones suffering an 18-point loss to the 12th placed Phoenix, a game in which they’d love to replay. The Cyclones were kept to just 11 points in the second quarter, and this contributed to their poor overall field goal shooting of 35%. Christina Boag battled all night with 18 points on 7/11 shooting and also a QBL season-high 8 steals. Cairns found themselves down 12 early to the Thunder in Round 14 and managed to get back to as close as 2 in the third, before Logan ran away 11-point victors. Myra Donkin and Alli Gloyd managed 20 and 18 points respectively, although both shot an inefficient 6/18. Cairns are still a mathematical chance of making the playoffs, but will be relying on other results to go their way IF they can get over the hump in Rockhampton. Your guess is as good as ours in this one. Toss of a coin.
Sunshine Coast Phoenix v Townsville Flames
Sunshine Coast managed an 18-point dismantling of Rockhampton, before getting blown out by 21 in Mackay the following night. The Phoenix were able to keep Rockhampton to 35% shooting for the field and despite committing a whopping 29 turnovers themselves, ran away with a victory largely due to a great all-round team performance. 6 players scored at least 9 points and over half of the team hit on at least 50% of shots. Erica Carlson was a beast on the boards pulling down 18. Townsville will be on the second night of a three-game weekend and this is arguably the easiest of the lot on paper. If the Phoenix are able to cut down some of those unnecessary turnovers from Round 14, they are a big chance of an upset, although with so much on the line for Townsville we expect them to leave the Sunshine Coast with their second W.
Brisbane Capitals v USC Rip City
Sitting at 8th on the ladder coming into the last round, the Capitals destiny is in their own hands. If they are able to win both of their matches they will cement a playoff berth. Despite a 14-point loss to the undefeated Spartans, the Capitals matched their cross-town rivals for three quarters. The Spartans outscored the home side by 17 in the third quarter, which proved to be the only difference in the ball game. D’Lesha Lloyd was the top scorer for the Capitals with 22, to go along with 8 boards. USC will be playing their second game of the weekend and last game of the season. Spirits may be low from the squad if they have suffered a defeat at the hands of Townsville, which would be their sixth in a row. Although the squad will be motivated to turn around the one-point loss against the Capitals in round 12, and put their playoff hopes on hold. Capitals at home.
Gold Coast Rollers v Toowoomba Mountaineers
After the match between these two teams in Round 14, the Rollers remain the only winless team in both QBL competitions in 2017. The Mountaineers managed their first victory of the season in dominant fashion, with a 20-point thumping of the Rollers. Francis Donders and Tracey Russell both managed to put the ball in the hoop with ease and shoot the ball at an impressive clip of 49%. Donders and Ezi Parsons both managed a remarkable 7 steals apiece. The rollers shot an abysmal 22% from the field and only managed to keep the margin from catastrophic levels due to their dominance on the offensive glass, enabling them extra shot opportunities. Ashli Payne only managed 2/14 from the field and will be looking forward to a big turnaround in her game this weekend. The Rollers bench scored a combined 3 points for the entire match from 1/18 shooting. They will be hoping the home court rings are much friendlier this weekend. Regardless of last week’s results, Gold Coast won’t shoot as poorly again and should get their first W of the season at home.
Ipswich Force v South West Metro Pirates
One of the form sides of the competition, Ipswich dominated the last-placed Rollers on Friday night and ran away with a 35-point win. After winning 4 of their past 5, the Force have now cemented a playoff berth and the consistent play of Markel Walker (19,10 and 9 v GC) has led the squad to a strong second half of the season. Landry, Williams and Mate have also been extremely strong contributors over this span. Their only loss in the past month was to the Pirates and they will be confident of getting over the line on their home floor and entering the playoffs as the sixth seed. The Pirates made light work of Toowoomba on Sunday afternoon, keeping the visitors to a season-low 31 points. Stephanie Bairstow (18 and 7) and Shelby Cheslek (17 and 17) were again the two main contributors for South West in their 43-point domination. Depending on other match results, this match could be the playoff for 6th and 7th spots and we expect Ipswich to keep rolling and get the job done at home.
Gladstone Port City Power v Cairns Dolphins
Gladstone ran away with a 15-point home victory over USC in Round 14 and was once again led by Tabatha Richardson-Smith. With an incredible 33 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists she narrowly missed out on a triple-double, but the team will be extremely pleased that the league’s leading scorer not only led the game in scoring, but also assists. Cassie Rochel managed 19 and 17 boards (10 offensive), whilst Charmain Mellars also recorded a double-double (10 and 12). Cairns will play their second game of their road double, and could again be playing for the season. Regardless of the previous night’s results at Rockhampton, we can’t see the Dolphins being able to limit the Power’s dominant offense. Gladstone by double figures.
Brisbane Spartans v South West Metro Pirates
With the top three positions on the QBL ladder being locked in leading into the final round, the Spartans get the luxury of watching other results to see who they will play. Despite this there is still a lot on the line for the home team, with the opportunity to finish the regular season undefeated. With the Pirates having played the previous night, they will have a much greater view of their playoff chances and may not need to defeat the Spartans in order to make the playoffs. Although, knowing how competitive these Pirates are and the great last month they’ve had, they would love being the only team to knock off the Spartans and for themselves to enter the playoffs with some major momentum. It is almost impossible to tip against the Spartans after their near flawless play all season long, and we expect them to enter the post-season with an undefeated record.
Brisbane Capitals v Townsville Flames
It all comes down to this. This match will have a massive impact on the final seedings in the 5-8 bracket of the ladder. Both teams will be coming off games the previous night and Townsville will have also played on Friday. Brisbane will have the upper hand with having fresher legs and no travel, with both of their games being played at NAB Stadium. We believe that Townsville has the better team on paper and are more of a threat to the competition throughout the playoffs, although there is no guessing what shape they will be in when they enter NAB Stadium on Sunday after an exhausting weekend. This game is expected to go down to the wire, with Townsville narrowly scraping through and entering the playoffs with the 5th seed and the Capitals hoping other results going their way.