Friday, May 11, 2018

The Player and Coach of the Month for April has been announced with Bendigo Braves claiming the double as Ray Turner and Ben Harvey took out the awards, respectively.

Turner has settled into the Braves line-up with ease in his debut season, arriving after stints in the NBA G-League, Hungary, Japan as well as in the QBL where he helped the Rockhampton Rockets win back-to-back Championships in 2014-15.

Through four games in April, he led the Braves to an unbeaten record while averaging 22.5 points (fifth in the league), 14.5 rebounds (second) including 19 total offensive boards (fourth) and tallying six blocks (fourth) and five steals.

He has provided a real option in the paint for Bendigo and has not come up empty on too many possessions, shooting 59.6% from the field while proving his stroke on 22-27 (82%) shooting from the free-throw line.

One of only ten players averaging a double-double, Turner had two strong performances to start the year with 20 points and nine rebounds against Diamond Valley in Round 1 before following up with 24 points and nine boards against Hobart in Round 3.

They then faced a tough ask with a trip to Mt. Gambier in Round 4, a place the Pioneers have turned into a fortress over the past few seasons but Turner led Bendigo to a massive 89-75 victory with an incredible stat-line of 25 points and 25 rebounds.

He came close to matching Mt. Gambier’s rebound tally as a team of 37, shot 9-18 from the field and was perfect from the free-throw line on 7-7 shooting while also collecting a double-double before half-time.

Two days later, the Braves had to back up at home against Albury/Wodonga but Turner defied fatigue, scoring a team-high 21 points to go with a game-high 16 rebounds.

That tally included seven offensive boards and he shot 9-13 from the field, playing just 29 minutes as Bendigo wrapped up a convincing 93-72 victory.

Those two dominant games earned Turner the Round 4 Player of the Week with the Player of the Month award recognition of his very strong start to the 2018 campaign.

Coach Harvey is sure to be pleased with his off-season import recruitment of Turner as well as Jeremy Kendle who has made a successful return to the club after missing 2017.

Indiana Faithfull provides a talented perimeter defender, leading the league for steals, and Harvey will also be happy he convinced Chris Hogan to return, with the big man playing his 400th game a couple of weeks ago while also averaging 9.3 points per game.

Bendigo’s unbeaten run through April included two victories over current top-eight teams in Hobart and Mt. Gambier and two road wins has also set up the Braves for a run at the top four this season.

The Braves own the fourth most productive offence in the competition at 88 points per game while also owning the third best defence, restricting oppositions to 78 points per contest.

In his ninth year at the helm, Harvey has his team on track for success after winning two Conference Championships and a SEABL Championship in 2016.