Sunshine Coast Phoenix v Cairns Marlins
The Phoenix have experienced a tough start to the 2017 QBL Season having started 0-4 and find themselves entrenched towards the bottom of the ladder. A week off will have given the coaching staff some time to find a way for star players CJ Massingale and Brad Williamson to get going; after a tough start to the season. The Marlins on the other hand have been solid despite some tough match-ups on the road of late. Taipan Players Jarrad Weeks, Alex Loughton and Damon Heuir have all been instrumental as expected to start the year, with all players averaging around 20 ppg. The reigning champs will go in as heavy favourites as they look to go 2/2 on the Sunshine Coast this weekend.
Ipswich Force v Mackay Meteors
After rolling to start the season, the Force let a golden opportunity to remain undefeated slip away as they dropped a close home game to the previously winless Logan Thunder last Friday. The defensive end of the floor was again of concern for the Ipswich Coaching staff as they gave up 89 points to an offensive side who has struggled to start the year. The Meteors will be led by an all-star offensive line-up of Tragardh, Bruce, Cedar and Walker and will stroll into this one expecting a win; however, the Force have proven tough at home and will throw everything at this talented Meteor Outfit.
Gladstone Port City Power v Townsville Heat
With both teams locked at 1-2, this game proves important as even though it is early, 2-2 feels much better than 1-3. The Heat will have their hands full with the 1-2 punch of Superstar guard Raymond Willis and QBL Stalwart and Rebounding Machine Willie Shackleford strutting their stuff. The Heat will need the likes of Wilcher and Baker to show up and produce at a high level. With both the Power and Heat processing scoring machines and big-game players; this one could come down to which role players outplay their counterparts.
Logan Thunder v Gold Coast Rollers
Well the monkey fell off the back of the Thunder last weekend as they notched their first win of the season with a hard-fought victory over a tough Force outfit. The big-men did the damage as Keanu Post and Mitch Young dominated inside, with both players scoring over 20 points which included a massive 26 point and 16 rebound double-double for Young. It is no secret that they will need to show up once again to combat the difficult matchup of NBL Superstar Torrey Craig, who averages over 30 points and 9 rebounds a game. Veteran Guard Shaun Gleeson will need to win his matchup also for the Rollers to go 3-2, as he will battle it out against some quality opposition.
Brisbane Spartans v Brisbane Capitals
With a matchup, the basketball purists have been salivating for since the draw was released, the Capitals take on a genuine rival in the Spartans. Ryan Jeffries suits up for the Spartans having crossed from the Capitals at the end of last season, which will add a little more spice to this affair. The high-powered offence of the Capitals is known throughout the league, with their ability to score at breakneck speed often leaving opponents struggling behind. The Spartans will need to lock in defensively to minimise the damage and try to limit runs which the Capitals rely on week after week. With the experience their line-up boasts this has every chance of happening, so this one could go either way.
Rockhampton Rockets v Townsville Heat
With the exit of some key players last off-season, the magical run that Rockhampton had over the best part of a decade may be over. If they are keen to show the league they still mean business, this is a must-win home game against a Townsville outfit that may be worn down a little having played in Gladstone the night before. Leon Christenson has been brave in the starting PG role, and will need to be ready to go once again as no doubt the Heat will try and rattle the young guard. This is an interesting game which both sides feel they are superior and will be expecting a win.
USC Rip City v Cairns Marlins
With the addition of the Tueta and Meehl brothers, USC Rip City have jumped from cellar dwellers in their inaugural season, to legitimate contenders in less than 12 months. If they want to show the league that they are the real-deal, what better way than to knock off the Marlins on their home floor? Lance Hurdle will be pivotal for Rip City, and they will need him to overshadow the play of two legitimate NBL Guards to give them a real chance. The Marlins will be on the second game on a back-to-back so may be a little vulnerable. Rip City will need to come out of the blocks hard early, as the Marlins will be keen to grind-out an important road win.
Toowoomba Mountaineers v Mackay Meteors
On paper the Meteors will go into this one as heavy favourites as they travel up the Mountain to play the Mountaineers. However, this Toowoomba outfit won their last game at home in impressive fashion by dismantling the Thunder. Led by Washington, Aleer and Abdul-Bassit and role players scattered around them, Toowoomba are much improved offensively this season and will look to pester and annoy the Meteors. On the other hand, if the Meteors are as good as those in QBL circles feel they are, this will be a comfortable win with little to no resistance shown by this brave and young ‘Neer squad.
South West Metro Pirates v Mackay Meteors
With injuries to key players, the Pirates’ second bye of the season could not have come at a better time. The Meteors will face them Sunday on the third game of a triple-header which have caused championship teams trouble over the last couple of years. If the Pirates have the likes of Teys and Bairstow back alongside the likes of Vines and last year’s MVP McGrew, they will go into this as hot favourites and will expect nothing short of a big victory. It’s hard to discount the Meteors however who aren’t on top of the ladder for no reason, so it’s not easy to pick a winner here.
Sunshine Coast Phoenix v Cairns Dolphins
Both sides have had tough starts to the season, with up and down performances plaguing what could have been solid starts to the season. The Phoenix have recently added former Bundy Bear in Clancy to provide some much-needed experience in the backcourt. This will be needed against a tough Cairns line-up, who only two weeks ago, pushed an impressive Capitals side to their limits before getting pipped at the post. QBL Stalwart and dominant inside force in Rachel Pryor will need to outclass American Erica Carlson for the Dolphins to get it done, as the game will either be won or lost in the paint.
Ipswich Force v Mackay Meteorettes
The Force like their Men’s team let a golden opportunity slip to really have their season up and going last weekend, with a disappointing home loss to the Thunder. There were some positive signs although, with former Townsville Junior Georgia Williams showing her class which ended in a positive Collegiate Career; no doubt she along with Farley and Mate will continue to do the heavy lifting on the offensive side of the ball. The Meteorettes although just keep ticking all the boxes will you would expect this to continue behind gun guard Jill Haughton. With her side allowing offenses to less than 60 points per contest, it is no surprise as to why her side is sitting comfortably on top of the ladder. Ipswich will need to find a way to stop being shut-down offensively to cause a massive upset here.
Gladstone Port City Power v Townsville Flames
The inclusion of Tabatha Richardson Smith for the Power has proven to be a priceless decision. With the departure of key Guard Maddy Willey to the Pirates among others, the Power needed someone to come in and be classy offensively so the Gladstone Women remained competitive. She will need to bring her 30 points again this weekend and possibly even more if they plan to knock off the Flames, who look dangerous and driven having just missing out on a playoff berth last season; despite coming home with a wet sail at the pointy end of the year. Darcy Garbin and Mia Murray have been prominent, with both players averaging over 20 points and around 7 rpg. The Power will need to find a way to minimise their influence if they hope to drive home 3-1.
Logan Thunder v Gold Coast Rollers
The Rollers’ tough start to the season has been largely due to their offensive struggles. Averaging a lowly 43.5 points a contest over the first four rounds of the season will not win you many games. On the other hand, the 3-1 Thunder appear to be clicking on all cylinders, averaging a touch over 87 points. The hot shooting of Kate Gaze is a massive factor, as she is lighting teams up with over 26 ppg. The Rollers will need to find some offensive output on the weekend if they wish to be competitive in this one; as the Thunder, can run teams off the floor. Jackie Luna-Castro is fresh off a 21 pt and 13 rb double-double and will be on the Rollers need to account for to minimise her impact.
Brisbane Spartans v Brisbane Capitals
Both teams find themselves at the top end of the ladder and will look to continue this rich run of form come Saturday Night. The Capitals are the best defensive team in the league and with the class of Lloyd, Lewis and Freeburn able to score freely at the offensive end, this Brisbane outfit are a formidable side. The Spartans will be led by Superstars Parham and Karaitiana; who have been impressive to start the year and will need to continue this run of play for the Spartans to come out victorious. Like the men, expect a big crowd and fireworks as two genuine championship contenders go at it for the first time in several years.
Rockhampton Cyclones v Townsville Flames
The Cyclones will return to Hegvold having dropped their first two games of the season there; something which hasn’t occurred for several seasons. The Flames will be on the second leg of a back-to-back and will need to be ready to go from the outset, as the Cyclones will be hungry to show the league they aren’t done just yet. Former Bear and Rebounding Machine Christina Boag has been solid to start the year, averaging a 17 pt and 10rb double-double per contest. Her inside dominance will be a major focus for the Flames, who will no doubt have their hands full with MVP Candidate Abby Bishop alongside Natalie Novosel. The Flames will be against it, and will rely on a well-rounded team effort to knock off the reigning champs.
USC Rip City v Cairns Dolphins
In just their second season in the QBL, the young Rip City Women continue to improve and push some of the best teams in the league; headlined by the 12pt honourable loss to the Thunder down in Cornubia. The coaching staff however will smell a win here, and will expect nothing less. Leah Scott and Brooke Le Mar are gallantly supported by Claire O’Bryan on the offensive end; and all three will need to score to defeat the well-coached Dolphins. A tough draw to start the season leaves the Dolphins in a precarious position of 1-3. However, with two very winnable games on the weekend, they have a chance to go 3-3 and that will surely be the focus this week at training. USC will expect Cairns to come out desperately swinging, and be ready to counteract this from the get-go.
Toowoomba Mountaineers v Mackay Meteorettes
The ‘Neers are entrenched at the bottom of the ladder and Saturday Night will arguably be their biggest test of the season to date – the Meteorettes. The Meteorettes boast the best defence this season, keeping the usual high-scoring Rockhampton and Townsville to well below their season averages. This could spell bad news for the Mountaineer Women, who rely heavily on Francis Donders for offensive production. The ‘Neers will need their role players to step up and assist Donders, otherwise it is hard to see them putting enough points on the board to cause a monumental upset against one of the best teams in the QBL’s modern era.
South West Metro Pirates v Mackay Meteorettes
After a tough Northern Double-header to start the season, the Pirates bounced back at home in Round 3 after taking care of a lowly Rollers with a good well-rounded performance. Reciprocating this spread will be even more important this weekend as they face the Meteorettes – the best defensive team in the league. Although they will be playing their third game in as many days, this champion Mackay team will still go in as heavy favourites, with a chance to potentially go 6-0 to start the season too sweet to hand over easily. The backcourt of Madeline Willey and Sidney Parsons will be important for the Pirates, with the South West Coaching Staff hoping their star backcourt can get the better o