ROUND 7 REVIEW
Following the conclusion of the penultimate round of the 2017 regular season, Wollongong Rollerhawks and Kilsyth Cobras have secured first and second place on the ladder respectively with three other teams left to fight for the remaining two playoff positions.
The Rollerhawks and Cobras claimed a victory against each other in Round 7 but one win was enough for Wollongong to claim top spot.
They got the job done by 26 points on Saturday night before Kilsyth exacted revenge by 16 points the following day although Brett Stibners did miss the second contest after tallying 17 points, six rebounds and nine assists in Wollongong’s win.
Michael Auprince (23.5 points, 11 rebounds) and Nick Taylor (16.5 points, 11 assists) both averaged double-doubles, Luke Pople impressed with 17.5 points, five rebounds and eight assists for the weekend while Clay Kelly came off the bench to provide some important minutes for the Rollerhawks.
Kilsyth were led by Tristan Knowles’ 20 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists on Sunday while Daniel Del Toso moved into the starting line-up for that clash to collect 12 points and ten boards.
While they would have been disappointed to drop the game the night before, the Cobras can take confidence from nine players hitting the scoreboard with that depth sure to prove valuable in the post-season.
Another important match-up in terms of playoff positioning saw third-placed Sydney Metro Blues and fourth-placed Queensland Spinning Bullets each take a victory over Round 7.
Fighting back from a half-time deficit, the Blues won the first contest by 15 points as Joe Chambers scored 42 on 19-31 shooting and Darren Skuse added six points, ten rebounds and two assists off the bench to answer the best efforts of Tom O’Neill-Thorne (23 points, nine rebounds, six assists) and Kurt Thomson (ten points).
Queensland proved too good in their re-match the following day though, claiming a seven-point win to stay equal on points (29) with the top four.
The Perth Wheelcats have fallen to fifth place, since the Bullets have a head-to-head adavantage over them. The Wheecats are at tied with the Bullets at 29 points courtesy of two victories over the Adelaide Thunder.
They won by an average margin of 39.5 points and took every quarter as Shaun Norris, Kim Robins (20.5 points, five rebounds, five steals per game) and Thomas McHugh (10.5 points, 2.5 steals) starred.
Norris was exceptional in the second contest, almost totalling a quadruple-double with 50 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, eight steals and a block while out-scoring Adelaide himself.
He finished with an average of 35.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 13 assists and six steals and while Adam Roocke hit double-figures in both clashes and Phil Stephens recorded nine points per game, the Thunder simply had no answers for Norris.
Heading into the final round of the regular season, the Blues face the Wheelcats with Sydney Metro still needing two wins to officially secure their place in the playoffs.