MSA Team Donkey take top qualifying spot ahead of semi-finals

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MSA Team Donkey have nabbed the top qualifying spot as playoffs begin next week in Basketball Mid Canterbury men’s A competition.
The Donkeys and Newlands were tied on 15 points each, but Newlands had the poorer points differential. Both teams have won five of their eight games in pool play.
Previous results mean nothing now, with only winners advancing through the playoff stages.
MSA Team Donkey has the bye on Wednesday while Newlands takes on bottom qualifier Nomads at 6pm and Wildlife (third qualifier) takes on College at 7.30pm.

Here’s now analyst Brian Kerr saw the final round robin games this week:

The final two games of the final round were played at Oxford Street on Wednesday night. This determined the final standings for the beginning of the semi-finals to start next week culminating in the final to be played on September 23.

The first game was between Nomads and the improving Wildlife team. It was Nomads who started fastest out of the blocks as they got out to a 7 – 0 lead. Wildlife finally managed to get themselves sorted as they took a slender 15 – 14 lead in a scrappy first quarter.
Nomads started off well again as they were able to find holes in the Wildlife defence pushing the score out to double figures. Wildlife began to find their range from outside to draw themselves closer and only trail 37 – 30 at the break.

The third quarter was a better start this time for Wildlife as they chipped away at the lead whilst Nomads took time to resettle. It was another scrappy low scoring quarter but more importantly for Wildlife, they only were only three points down at 48 – 45 at the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was where Wildlife made their run as they went on a 9 – 3 run to claim back the lead 54 – 51. A timeout by Nomads stopped the rot.

Then an absorbing last few minutes were played out as they battled it out working hard to take victory. It was Wildlife that made a couple of big plays by taking the ball strongly to the hoop and in turn were able to maintain the lead finally taking out the match 65 – 60 in a low scoring, physical encounter.

For Wildlife it was Emiliano Guerra leading the way with 21 points with another good display. He was hard to stop on the drive and was able to drop the shot when it was needed. Xavier Bartlett was good all-round as he netted 15 points (1 – 3 pointer). Liam O’Connor continued on his good form with 12 points (2 – 3 pointers) and Sean Hunter with 11 including a couple of big plays late in the 4th quarter.
For Nomads, Kody Stuthridge had a good return with 25 points (1 – 3 pointer), whilst Tony Gilbert worked hard for his 11 points.

This was a game that could’ve gone either way with both teams getting on scoring rolls, only for the opposition to do the same back. Both teams were guilty of some sloppy play throughout the match as well as missing quite a few scoring chances. Nomads had their opportunities, however it was Wildlife who managed to take their chances and play smart at the death to secure the win.

The next game was a top of the table clash between Newlands and MSA Team Donkey.
It started pretty evenly until MSA Team Donkey’s transition from defence to offence caught out the lax Newlands defence to take a 21 – 12 lead. A time out was required to rectify this and Newlands trailed 29 – 23 at the end of the first quarter.
Newlands started the second quarter well and started making inroads into the lead, however MSA Team Donkey responded well and were able to maintain their six-point margin at 52 – 46.

The third quarter started fairly evenly, however MSA Team Donkey matching up defensively caused problems for Newlands as they struggled offensively. On the flip side MSA Team Donkey were able to find gaps in the Newlands defence to extend their lead 77 – 66.
The final quarter saw MSA Team Donkey start positively stretching the lead out to 18 points with Newlands staring down the barrel of a blowout. Then came the Newlands fightback as they started breaking down the MSA Team Donkey defence to get on a roll and draw the score back to 6 points. It forced a timeout but still Newlands came back at them – back to three points.

MSA Team Donkey were able to maintain their lead as Newlands pressed full court, however MSA Team Donkey were able to absorb the pressure and held out to win 95 – 91 in a top game of basketball.

For MSA Team Donkey, it was Pip Johnston back to his long range best scoring 38 points (8 – 3 pointers) in a very good overall display. He was backed up by the hardworking Cam Butler who scored 32 points and was deadly inside the paint.
For Newlands, it was Ramil Ilumin leading the charge with 25 points (3 – 3 pointers). He was good at both ends securing a number of boards and at times hard MSA Team Donkey found him hard to contain on the offensive end. Randy Buenafe continued on his good form with 18 points (4 – 3 pointers), Marc Juntilla darting his way to 13 points (1 – 3 pointer) and Marvin Agacer 11 (1 – 3 pointer).

This game showed the danger of Johnston and giving him a hint of space from three-point range. When he got a sniff, he buried it. In the same vein Butler was able to at times dominate inside the paint as Newlands struggled to shut him down. However MSA Team Donkey’s struggles in the fourth quarter continued as they allowed Newlands a sniff of hope after their switch to man to man seemed to have done its job.
Newlands on the other hand were guilty of some defensive lapses mainly down to intensity which allowed MSA Team Donkey to put points on them. To their credit they never went away and fought back well in order to put themselves in a position to try and sneak a win, coming up just short.

A top match between the two top teams this season.