Friday, April 6, 2018

Game of The Week – Diamond Valley Eagles vs. Bendigo Braves
Friday 6th April- 8:00pm @ Diamond Valley Recreation Centre

Season 2018 tips off with the Eagles hosting Bendigo in their first ever SEABL game and there will be a little extra spice added to the contest with Braves head coach Ben Harvey returning to his old stomping ground.

He will face off against veteran coach Grant Wallace on the sidelines with Diamond Valley having made the move from Big V.

A busy pre-season has proven the Eagles’ desire to make a splash in their debut season though and they will not be content to be an easy-beat in their first year. Bendigo are a team keen for redemption though as they were unable to follow up their 2016 Championship with success last year, missing the playoffs with an 11-13 record.

They have placed themselves right back into Championship contention though with the addition of 2016 league MVP and Grand Final MVP Jeremy Kendle. A potent scorer who can knock down shots from anywhere on the court, Kendle has plied his trade in the NBL and in New Zealand and he may return to SEABL even better in 2018.

The Braves’ second import will cause headaches for oppositions in the paint with 203cm Ray Turner set to impose himself and his inclusion in the team will free up the likes of Matt Andronicos and veteran Chris Hogan who is closing in on the 400-game milestone.

Mike Best could find himself matched-up with Turner for Diamond Valley in a key import battle but he should receive help from the likes of Dyson King-Hawea who has come over from Nunawading while ex-Bandit Darcy Harding will stretch the floor with his deadly three-point shot.

Matt Reynolds has been a dominant presence for the Eagles in Big V and is coming off a career year, recording 14.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He faces a real test coming up against Kendle but if he can provide a shutdown job on the Braves guard, Diamond Valley could start off their SEABL venture in fairytale fashion in front of their home fans.

Round 1 Notables:

  • Opening night also sees Ballarat host Dandenong in a replay of last year’s South Conference Final. The Miners hosted that game as well after finishing on top of the Conference but Dandenong got the better of them in an overtime thriller. Fresh off an NBL Championship, Ballarat’s Peter Hooley will be keen for redemption.
  • Hobart begin their 2018 campaign back at the Derwent Entertainment Centre on Friday night where they owned an 11-1 record during the regular season last year.
  • Defending Champions Mt. Gambier are on the road in Round 1, visiting another perennial title contender in Geelong. Both teams have retained their core roster but lost key pieces in the front court with Daniel Alexander departing the Pioneers while Ash Cannan and Eric Gaff have left Geelong.
  • Kilsyth face the unenviable task of the Tassie road double in Round 1 but it will give them a good look at a couple of new players like import Isaac Turner and forwards Felix von Hofe and Dane Pineau.
  • Diamond Valley are thrown into the deep end in their first round of SEABL as the only other team to play a double-header with a second clash against Sandringham on Saturday night.

Find the full fixture for the men in Round 1 via the SEABL website here.