GRAND FINAL GAME PREVIEWS
Friday 26 – Sunday 28 August
Rockhampton Cyclones v Mackay Meteorettes
The continued dominance of the northern pool will be on display again this weekend, with the overall top two teams throughout the season once again coming from Central and Northern Queensland. Both teams posted dominant semi-final wins and are rolling at the most critical point of the season.
The Cyclones had a home semi-final which they have become accustomed to, against the Capitals and put on a display for their loyal fans seeing their side post dominant win after dominant win at Hegvold. The Capital’s had an impressive season, but posted little threat as the home side jumped out of the blocks and never looked back. A dominant 25-10 third quarter meant the crowd could celebrate a little early. The combination of Dowdell and Jones was superb, with 27 and 24 points respectively. The Meteorettes will go in extremely confident nevertheless, with their smothering defence choking the life out of the Rollers in their semi-final affair. Nullifying the impact Zelenka, Willey and Allison will be high on the Cyclones agenda, with all three having good games. What would have pleased the Mackay coaching staff the most was the defensive clinic their side put on, giving up only 47 points and ensuring that the usual devastating duo of Hurst and Payne remained quiet. No doubt the defensive end will be important again this week as the Cyclones like to score and score plenty, which keeps their vocal and passionate supporters always in the game.
These two sides met twice throughout the regular season, with Rockhampton taking the chocolates in both clashes. Shanavia Dowdell was outstanding especially in the recent Round 14 victory, as she dominated inside on her way to 34 points in a low-scoring game for the usual offensive-dominant Cyclones. The third quarter for the Meteorettes was particularly disappointing in that game. They shot 2/17 from the field and only managed 7 points for the term, which let the Cyclones set up a hard fought win. They managed to pick it up nevertheless, with a 23-14 fourth quarter in their favour. With both teams going away from the game with plenty to learn, there is no doubt the game tapes will be out during the week!
The key for Mackay is to be defensively sound and not allow the star power that Rockhampton’s roster has not spurts of brilliance of which in games earlier this season proving the difference. The Cyclone’s will be desperate for another series win to cap off a brilliant season, and with only two home wins to go, they will go in as heavy favourites and be expected to come away with the championship.
Friday 26 – Sunday 28 August
Brisbane Capitals v Cairns Marlins
Throughout the entire season, the team to beat came from the far north. It wasn’t from Cairns but Townsville, of which the Marlins managed to knock off on the road last weekend. Although the Marlins look extremely tough to beat at the moment, the Capitals have to be put in the same conversation. A dominant semi-final win over their pool rivals in Logan has set up the first Grand Final Series in the South for some time, and Head Coach Geoff Tarrant and his men will expect nothing less than a championship come Sunday afternoon.
The Marlins came into the semi-finals in red hot form and will look to keep their roll going. The undermanned Heat were gallant for most of the game, however the Marlins class rose to the top in the fourth which allowed them to run out 96-79 winners. The NBL duo of Loughton and Hueir were impressive yet again, with former Taipan Cameron Tragardh lending a helping hand in leading the way for this dominating Marlins outfit. Speaking of dominating performances, the Capitals came out of the gates flying and left the Thunder in the rear-vision mirror as they led 69-40 at the main break. This is the sort of performance which the league has known the Capitals are capable of dishing out. With five player reaching double figures, and the team shooting 41.7% from behind the arc; it is hard to see them getting beaten if they can perform again like this this weekend.
Aaron Anderson is a player who will need to be watched if the Marlins hope to come away with the goods, he was damaging in Cairns back in Round 3, and this Cairns unit will know this MVP candidate needs serious attention. It was the fourth quarter which was the real killer for the Marlins however, they were down only three at the final change before the Capitals got let loose at the offensive end. A scintillating 63.2% from the field gave them 34 points which was far too many, and they ran away as comfortable winners. For the Marlins to win at NAB this weekend, they need to keep the explosive offensive capabilities of the Capitals at bay and execute at the offensive end.
The Capitals will go into this one as red-hot favourites and rightly so; they are at home and the crowd will be buzzing. The Marlins will rely on the NBL experience that their roster has in Loughton, Tragardh and Heuir to execute to try and keep what will be a ruckus home crowd out of it as much as they can. Either way, expect an exciting clash as both sides will be desperate to bring success to their respected cities.