MSA Team Donkey and Newlands will meet in the final of Basketball Mid Canterbury’s A grade men’s competition next week, after both survived semi-final challenges.
Coach and analyst Brian Kerr is predicting a good final tussle, with both having a win over the other in round-robin play.
Here are his thoughts on the semi-finals action:
So the first of the two semi-finals was between College and Newlands. It had only been three weeks since College toppled Newlands so the confidence was there to repeat the dose.
The first quarter was scrappy as neither team was able to dominate. College’s man-to-man defence generally did a good job, however Newlands started finding their mark and went into the second quarter leading 23–15.
The second quarter found Newlands able to work their offence better as they pushed out the lead. College was getting the looks but the ball was not dropping. College trailing 48–33 at the halftime break.
Newlands came out fast and quickly pushed the lead out to 20 points until College increased their defensive intensity. They went to a full court man-to-man and they were able to create turnovers drawing the score back to 63–53 by the end of the third quarter.
College continued pressing the Newlands team and working hard on defence, however they could not get a break on the scoreboard. With three minutes gone in the quarter, Newlands hit a switch and everything changed.
They increased the tempo of the game and within a minute or so had pushed the score out past 20 points. Even a timeout during that time did not stop the bleeding as Newlands took charge of the game, eventually taking out the match 90–66.
For Newlands, Marc Juntilla top scored with 23 points (two 3-pointers). He was always dangerous and made the College defenders work hard. Randy Buenafe continued his good form as he accumulated 22 points (one 3-pointer) with Nick Fechney strong on the inside with 14 points.
College was led by Riley Sa with 24 points (one 3-pointer) who was tireless at both ends of the court. Kambell Stills finished with 16 points even though being well managed by the Newlands defence.
Thomas Patterson finished with 11 points (one 3-pointer), however his defence was excellent. He had the unenviable task of matching up with Juntilla. It was a terrific battle.
This was a game that was determined by a five-minute energy explosion by Newlands in the fourth quarter. They just went fast and it caught a tiring College on the hop and literally extinguished them from the game.
Up until that spell College were right in the match. They had their chances, however on the day Newlands were just too strong.
The second semi-final was between defending champs MSA Team Donkey and Wildlife. The last time these two played, Wildlife had taken out the honours.
MSA Team Donkey came out meaning business as they found the net early to open up a lead. It took Wildlife time to settle but things were already looking ominous as Donkeys led 33–19 going into the second quarter.
MSA Team Donkey started off the quarter as they’d finished the last one pushing the lead out further. They then followed that up with a series of missed shots and turnovers as Wildlife found some life.
Back to 10 points and a real battle beginning to brew. MSA Team Donkey flicked a switch and tidied things up at both ends of the court to restore the lead out to 56–40.
MSA Team Donkey then took charge in the third quarter as things got a bit heated on court. Wildlife did not have any answers as MSA Team Donkey went into the final quarter leading 81–55.
From there the pain did not ease for Wildlife as MSA Team Donkey pushed the difference out to past 30 points.
It was here that MSA Team Donkey sat on 99 for about four minutes until they finally managed to post three figures. Wildlife weren’t able to take any real advantage of this scoring lull as MSA Team Donkey took out the game 101–75.
For MSA Team Donkey, it was Cam Butler doing the job with 31 points (two 3-pointers). He was always a constant threat on offence and Wildlife couldn’t shut him down. Fotu Hala found a return to shooting form as he finished with 26 points (three 3-pointers) including a 14-point run in the fourth quarter. Pip Johnston again in the action ending up with 24 points (three 3-pointers).
Bradley van der Eik added 10 points (two 3-pointers) as well as Thomas O’Brien with some deft finishes.
For Wildlife, Sean Hunter led the way with 21 points (two 3-pointers) with Emiliano Guerra finishing with 18 points (one 3-pointer) and Xavier Bartlett 13 points (three 3-pointers).
This game was decided fairly early in the third quarter as MSA Team Donkey scored pretty much at will. They were dangerous from beyond the arc as well as creating problems for the Wildlife defence inside the paint. Defensively they were good as they boxed out pretty well to minimise second shots.
Wildlife on the other hand didn’t shoot particularly well for long periods in the game which obviously impacted on the result. Even from close range they struggled. They had a moment in the second quarter where it seemed they would get back into the match but that was it. A forgettable night at the office.