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2016/17 SEASON PREVIEW: MT. GAMBIER
Friday, March 17, 2017

MT. GAMBIER

Departing:
Keaton Jackson, Hayden Annett, Brad Rathjen, Desmond Simmons, Mony Makoi.

Returning:
Dellon Brown, Lachie Hunter, Tom Daly, Luke Jamieson, Brad Hill, Matt Sutton, Erik Burdon, Kane DeWitt.

Newcomers:
Jack Madgen, Zach DeWitt, Daniel Alexander (import), John Jones (import).

Fixture:
The Pioneers will host Bendigo in a Grand Final re-match in Round 2 as they look to exact their revenge for the last game of 2016 and that begins a three-game home stand which will span the Easter break. Their run home does not look inviting though, hitting the road for five of their last seven games including a Canberra double-header and a trip to Hobart.

Strengths:
Featuring in the past four Grand Finals and winning two Championships, Mt. Gambier have maintained a core group as they look to remain the benchmark of the competition. Three of their top five scorers from 2016 have returned in Brad Hill, Tom Daly and Erik Burdon who combined for 43 points per game while their import pairing look to be an imposing presence in the paint as well as serious offensive threats so far in pre-season warm-up clashes.

Weaknesses:
There is little doubt that the Pioneers will be a force to be reckoned with in the regular season but the questions that surround this team are whether they can improve on last year and clinch another title. Daniel Alexander and John Jones will need to lock down defensively and provide the rim protection that the likes of Damian Johnson did during their back-to-back Championships if they are going to rise to the top again in 2017.

Watch out for:
Luke Jamieson. With a depleted front court at the start of 2016, Jamieson took control in the paint for the Pioneers and put up big numbers, named Player of the Week in Round 2 before finishing the season with 10.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. If he can gel with the Pioneers imports, he could be the one to anchor the team’s defence while oppositions must be wary of his three-point shot which stretches the floor nicely alongside other quality shooters like Erik Burdon.

Predicted Finish:
Mt. Gambier are one of the teams that will make the East such a difficult Conference and while they should not have much trouble making the top four for a fifth consecutive year, they may still find the going tough once we hit the post-season. As it stands, they still look to have a roster that will install them as one of the early Championship favourites.

Top Two, East Conference