Opening nights are closing in fast and we now have our opening match ups locked. Everyone is chomping at the bit for round one, so we thought we would provide some insight into the openers for the season. "There are some really solid match-ups right out of the gate this season and we can expect some close games for round one, maybe even an overtime game or two - who knows." - Commissioner Tristan Blacka
Mt Eliza Millions Vs Karingal Kings
Wow – what a first game for both of these franchises. Many would expect both teams to get off to a perfect start, but with this match up – there can only be one. Both teams have been impressive in the pre-season. Could we have over time in the opening round? This is a battle between first overall pick Luke Svensson and second overall pick Ned Weideman. We haven’t seen much of Luke just yet, but Rhys Borham has been lighting it up in his place and comes into the season in great form. Millions will have their hands full guarding the many options the Kings have. On the flip side, someone is going to have to try and minimise Ned Weideman’s impact on this game, which could demand a lot of energy from your defenders. Our Tip: Kings in a thriller
Dromana Bulls Vs Langwarrin Thunder
The Thunder have proved they are going to be a handful for teams this season. GM Dan Zed has put together a solid outfit that can compete on both ends of the floor. Eddie Swan looks in good form, coming off a filthy game winner from deep in the pre-season. The Thunder would love to keep it going but could be easier said than done. The Dromana Bulls have been the best in team in preseason with a 3-0 record. The Bulls boast the best defensive big men this league has to offer in Sean Slim Hogenbirk & Daniel Kerin combined with their fast-paced play make them a very tough outfit.
Our Tip: Bulls get on the board with a BIIIIIIIG Win
Hastings Heat Vs Bayside Reapers
The Hastings Heat have been the team everyone is talking about this pre-season. Their size figures to be a big issue for teams to try and handle. Roman Teper and Harrison Swan add massive length to the team and few teams possess the size to cope with them. The Reapers should be one of the few teams that can. Jono Hawes and Jesse Shore are two big dudes that have caused problems for teams in the pre-season. This one should be an interesting battle inside.
We figure that MVP favourite Jordy Melrose will be the difference in this game and lead the Reapers to their first W.
Flinders Raiders Vs Cranbourne Bucks
This game is going to be intriguing. Flinders Raiders figure to be one of the most talented perimeter teams in the comp. Their only knock so far has been their size – with first rounder Josh McCarthy missing the pre-season. Matt Nott has done a stellar job playing above his size so far and will add invaluable support for Jmac. If this team gets going from outside the game could be over really quickly. The Cranbourne Bucks however have proven themselves to be a solid inside team. Kurt Alamio and GM Glenn Wansbrough are great inside options. The Bucks have some interesting offense going on too, running more than just some simple pick and rolls and post ups. Our tip: Flinders Raiders for the W
South East Domestic
Philly Island Penguins Vs Garfield Foxes
We’ve done enough talking about the Foxes this pre-season. Everyone knows it – we think they are great. Now they need to actually be great straight out of the gates, as they are taking on one of the most practiced teams in Super-League. The Penguins have had more minutes together as a team than any other, playing teams from both conferences in practice matches. GM Brad Starkey seems to have his eye in now, which has surprised a few people more than others. At SL Headquarters, we already know what Brad is – a knock down shooter. Starkey though had a disappointing season last season shooting the ball. “Many know that the rings take some acclimatising to at Bridgewood. With all these pre-season games under our belt, I think I have my eye in.” He remarked. Starkey has surrounded himself with a well balanced team and this will be a great opening match up. Our tip: It would be criminal of us not to go with the Foxes. Foxes get the W in a close one
Cranbourne Bucks Vs Emerald Bears
Many see the Bears as one of the most dangerous teams in the comp this season. Time will tell if they can gel, as their pre-season has been shorter than most. They have many scoring options and will be one of the toughest teams to try and stop. For the Bucks, the pairing of Nick Spezza with Craig Drew could be a stroke of genius. The Bucks also have no shortage of perimeter shooting this season, with Drew, Spez and GM Matt Innes (among others).
Our Tip: The Bucks get the W.
Berwick Sharks Vs Koowee Koalas
The Sharks are another team that have had a short preseason. We haven’t had a great look at them yet, but they do contain a few guys with Rep Basketball backgrounds. Their IQ will be high. They also have high effort guys like Shaun Webster, who is coming off a terrific season. They will be relying on someone to step up and play more of a role with Commissioner Tristan Blacka not yet ready for game action. Justin Temby could be that guy. JT has shown flashes of brilliance at SL and figures to be one guy who could step up and knock down shots for this team. The Koowee Koalas have a scarily talented squad. Ambu Uliando, Michael Bridgman, Mason Lee and Riley Lanting all having rep background also, this team should be equally as clever.
Our Tip: With the Sharks shortened Preseason – the Koalas should win this one.
Beaconsfield Mustangs Vs Cardinia Crocs
The Crocs made a controversial decision (maybe, I guess) picking Jay Richardson with their second pick. Richardson had a disappointing season last season, but is by no means bad value here. He has one of the most unique skillsets in the league and is one of the best passing big men the league has to offer. The upside is this: Jay had an absolutely stellar season in his first season with – the Crocs. There’s no secret the GM Dan Stow will know how to put him to good use. Pair that with the defensive combo of Jason and Nick Lang and you have a pretty mean looking squad. The Mustangs are going to be a team to watch. The entire league has been intrigued with Charlie So and what he can bring. There is no doubt he will be able to put up big points – but has perhaps struggled getting used to the rings at Bridgewood. If he can get going this season, he will make life a whole lot easier for the twin towers (Andy Printannier and Gav Trapnell). Our tip: Crocs get their first W
Harkaway Toucans Vs Maryknoll Matadors
This Toucans squad is deep. Expect production all the way down their roster. Tommy Walsh was a wanted man this season and the Toucans were the first to bite, nabbing him mid first round. Look for Tommy to have another terrific season. Matt Lever has also impressed a lot of people in their pre-season matches and will prove to be a solid addition to the squad. The Matadors went with their standard approach to drafting – solid veteran players (at least in the first couple of rounds). Timmy Morgan this time is paired up with elite shooter Rob Middleton. The depth of this team is also notable. Tallest man in the comp Michael Stewart has also returned this season and will be invaluable for this Matadors squad.
Our Tip: Matadors in a close one
Cora Lynn Camels Vs Pakenham Upper Unicorns
A clash of two transition powerhouses! The Camels Nagel (not Kyle, but Corey) & Summit Thapa go head to head with The Corns’ Pedro Faria, Joey Nativo and Kurt Lazaro. This is going to be a fun one to watch. This may come down to who can score in the half court better. Our tip: Unicorns get a hard fought W
HP Blazers Vs Belgrave Mambas
Doel Jonnelly and the Blazers have looked strong in the preseason. Their outside shooting is looking elite, but they also have big man Mitch Ryal roaming the baseline. This could be the deepest team in the comp. GM Trav Harris thought each and every selection through well and may have just built a contender here. The Mambas look dangerous also - Jeff Reid is yet to really get out of second gear, but come round 1 he will be ready to go. Linc Scott is shooting the 3 as well as we have seen. Lucas Plozza is playing the best basketball of his life. Adam Rankin is looking like an absolute steal, showing massive improvement from his last season in the league. This team has big potential.
Our Tip: Blazers get the W
Dandy Ducks Vs Bayside Reapers
The Ducks are one of the more interesting teams this season. They have a plethora of scorers on their roster. If they can find a way to make it all work together, great things will await them. Jacob Begg as a 4th rounder is just ridiculous – he is playing some of the best basketball we have seen from him, expect a big game here and a big season. The Reapers look big - really big. They stockpiled big men in the draft and now have a task to create an offense to make it all work together. With Broderick and Steve West missing for majority of this preseason, we are unsure what to expect, apart from Reapers winning rebounding battles most nights.
Ducks get their first W
Got any hot tips or hot takes? Leave us some feedback. We love to know all about it when we are wrong!
Keep an ear out for podcasts next week following round 1.