PREVIEW EAST CONFERENCE PRELIM FINAL
EAST CONFERENCE PRELIMINARY FINAL
Nunawading Spectres (17-7) v Geelong Supercats (16-8), Nunawading Stadium, 6.30pm Saturday, August 19
Nunawading played well against the Pioneers in their Semi-Final clash, out-scoring them in points off turnovers, second chance points and finishing with a 34-26 edge in the paint but they could not win a quarter as they fell by 11 points. Their form is still an ominous warning for the Supercats though as they return to Nunawading Stadium where they are 10-2 this year.
Geelong did it comfortably against Sandringham in their Elimination Final, never looking truly bothered before pulling away with a 25-12 third term for a 15-point victory. They have now won six consecutive games for the season and have also been successful in both meetings with the Spectres in 2017, winning by an average margin of 13 points.
The Spectres are around the middle of the pack in terms of three-point defence in the league, allowing 34% but against the Supercats, it has proven to be a major deficiency. Geelong out-scored them by 27 points overall across their two contests while shooting 39% and the Spectres’ recent history is not much better as last weekend, Mt. Gambier unloaded with 15 three’s at 46% as a team.
Nunawading: Dain Swetalla has been a quality addition to the front court for Nunawading this season, adding athleticism and an imposing presence in the paint to match Simon Conn’s shooting touch. He exploded for a 44-point performance earlier this year to earn Player of the Week but has come unstuck against Geelong, averaging just five points and five rebounds on 5-15 shooting overall. He will be keen for a redemptive performance on Saturday night but it will not be easy against Eric Gaff (who almost had a triple-double last weekend with ten points, 14 boards and eight assists) as well as Maalo Hicks and Ash Cannan who all have the size and strength to worry him out of his natural game.
Geelong: Surpassing 350 games this season, Jamie Medved continues to deliver for the Supercats and alongside Nathan Herbert, has been an integral part of their finals success. He contributed 13 points off the bench in their Semi-Final win over Sandringham but also has impressed against Nunawading previously this year, averaging 12 points while hitting 4-11 from downtown. The Spectres played only eight guys last weekend and if that is the case again in the Preliminary Final, the work of Medved will provide a major advantage for the visitors when teams move to their second unit.
Shane McDonald vs. Kristian Rocci
With this morning’s news that DeMarcus Gatlin is out for the rest of the season with a fractured foot, Geelong will be looking to the likes of Kristian Rocci and Kris Blicavs to match-up with McDonald this weekend. Gatlin’s loss is a major one after he recorded a double-double in their first meeting against Nunawading before scoring a game-high 27 points in the second clash. The league leader in assists, McDonald has averaged six per contest in those two contests but has not really bothered the scoreboard and that will be the target again for the Supercats’ back court on Saturday night. However, you can expect there to be a pep in the step of the Spectres’ guards this weekend as they look to take full advantage of the absence of Gatlin.
Previous Meetings This Year
Round 10: Round 17:
Nunawading 73 def. by Geelong 79 Geelong 96 def. Nunawading 76
@ Nunawading @ Geelong
The Gatlin loss throws a major spanner in the works for Geelong and opens up the chance for McDonald to completely take over the game while Tom Wright could also do some damage in the back court. Nunawading have a short roster to utilise and are likely to lose the bench battle against the likes of Medved, Cannan and Liam McInerney but if Conn is at his MVP best and accompanied by Swetalla, Nunawading should be able to maintain their strong home record.
Prediction: Nunawading by 6.