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2018 SEASON PREVIEW: MELBOURNE TIGERS
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

MEN

Departing:
Daryl Corletto, Ari Stewart, Xinkai Wang, Bo Liu, Payl Elderkin, Yiming Zhao.

Returning:
Billy Hughes, Ben Dixon, Jimmy Todd, Tom Wilson, Livai Smith.

Newcomers:
Ivan Dukanac, Jack Bines, Maxwell Viitala, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Patrick Bines, Deng Acuoth, Dejan Kostur.

Fixture:
The Tigers will play their first two rounds of the season at home, playing Nunawading and then Albury Wodonga. From Round 4, the team will then enjoy another four home games before closing out the season in July with three out of their last five games on the road.

Overall:
Nick Abdicevic takes over the reins for the Tigers this season, swapping roles with Andrew Gaze who will return to the Melbourne Youth League teams. He has a new look side to work with but 2017 Youth Player of the Year Tom Wilson is back and through him, the Tigers have an on-court general. He averaged 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season and continues to grow his leadership qualities as he looks to find a future role in the NBL or Europe.

There are NBL connections sprinkled throughout the Tigers roster including 2017 Championship winner with the Wildcats, Dexter Kernich-Drew as well as Livai Smith and Deng Acuoth who have spent time with the Sydney Kings. Standing at 213cm, Acuoth is an exciting prospect from South Sudan and while he is still raw, he could be a solid back-up for someone like import Dejan Kostur who comes from Big V as well as the Idaho State Athletics.

Another young prospect is Patrick Bines who joins his brother Jack as a third generation Tigers representative. Having played for the Australian Under-17’s at the World Championship, Bines also recorded 13.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals at his most recent Under-18 Australian Championships. Role players like Billy Hughes, Jimmy Todd and Ben Dixon are also back for Melbourne to help keep the scoreboard ticking over.

WOMEN

Departing:
Jess Harley, Hanna Zavecz, Elyse Penaluna.

Returning:
Louella Tomlinson, Bianca Babic, Courtney Gaze, Monique Conti, Peri Kalka, Briana Babic, Ashlea Stainer.

Newcomers:
Rebecca Cole, Kasey Burton, Abby Zhang, Katie Bugden, Ashleigh Stewart.

Fixture:
The Melbourne Tigers women’s team will begin their season at home, when they host Nunawading on April 8. They are fortunate to have four weeks of home games between road trips but do encounter road doubles on three weekends throughout the year. Playing just their second season, the Tigers will play newcomers Diamond Valley in Round 6.

Overall:
While they ultimately finished on the bottom of the South Conference ladder in their debut season, the Tigers tallied an equal-amount of wins as Frankston while also recording strong performances against the likes of Hobart, Sandringham and Ballarat. Melbourne’s challenge is to now take the next step in 2018 and become a finals contender.

Rebecca Cole is back in the league after taking a season off and starring with the Boomers in the WNBL as they finished Runners-Up. She was the difference in a Semi-Final match-up against the Lynx, recording 21 points, three assists and three steals and her composure on the floor as well as speed in transition will be key to the Tigers’ chances. She will be joined by an incredible four WNBL team mates in Louella Tomlinson whose length and rim protection will bulk up their front court as well as rising star Monique Conti who was named to the All-SEABL Second Team last season while also developing into a significant role player for Melbourne. Peri Kalka and Kasey Burton make up the rest of the Boomers contingent and the time they spent with the club over 2017/18 will prove very valuable heading into this SEABL campaign.

Briana Babic also showed she can lead a team offensively after averaging 13.5 points per game in 2017 while Courtney Gaze made an impact when she received more court time later in the year. With a majority of their roster returning, the Tigers should not face the uncertainty with which they headed into Round 1 last season and the chemistry that those WNBL players have already built with each other will be vital.