ROUND 3 NWBL PREVIEW

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Red Dust Heelers v West Adelaide Thunder- Friday 14th June @1.30pm
Red Dust Heelers v West Adelaide Thunder- Saturday 15th June @5pm
Red Dust Heelers v West Adelaide Thunder- Sunday 16th June @9am

This weekend offers both Red Dust and West Adelaide the opportunity to string a few wins together and stay in touch with the top four.

The Heelers are winless on the season but are coming off the bye so have not hit the court in over a month. They will be competing in neutral territory in Round 3 which evens the scales somewhat but their defence must improve to defeat the Thunder after they gave up 84 points per game through Round 1.

From the team that competed a month ago, Red Dust have added Ryan Morich and Rob Pike and their experience as well shooting ability will provide the Heelers with a major boost.

Morich and Pike were the only Red Dust players to hit three-pointers last season while their presence in the paint and on the glass will free up Thomas McHugh who averaged a team-high 15.5 points and nine rebounds per game in Round 1.

West Adelaide sit one spot above the Heelers on the ladder, courtesy of a win over Queensland as well as the three extra games they have played compared to Red Dust.

They were unable to get past Perth in a three-game road trip across Round 2 but certainly put up a fight, getting within nine points and ten points in two of the contests.

Importantly, they held the Wheelcats to 71 points compared to their season average of 75 and if West Adelaide bring that intensity to this weekend’s games, the Heelers will struggle to put a winning score on the board.

The combination of Eamon Wood (16.7 points, six assists per game), Jay Dohnt (13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds) and Adam Roocke (11.7 points) all hit double-figures in scoring through the weekend and Red Dust will need their new arrivals for the season to fire immediately to match that output as well.

Queensland Spinning Bullets v Perth Wheelcats- Saturday 15th June @6pm
Queensland Spinning Bullets v Perth Wheelcats- Sunday 16th June @10am

In just two games across Round 3, the Spinning Bullets will be hoping to utilise their home-court advantage against Perth whose 6-1 record is a mirror of Queensland’s 1-6 win/loss ratio.

Last year’s silver medalists have not reached the heights of 2018 so far and are in danger of losing touch with the top four if they do not cause an upset against Perth but they have already suffered a 54-82 loss to the Wheelcats this season.

That occurred in Round 1 though and the good news for the Spinning Bullets is that Tom O’Neill-Thorne is back with the side since then. Averaging 14.5 points and seven assists last round, the Rollers’ output was a little down on what he can produce but with a couple more weeks under his belt, expect O’Neill-Thorne to fire this weekend.

He cannot beat Perth alone though and will need production from the likes of Dylan Gawthorne, Kurt Thomson, Jake Fulwood off the bench and fellow Roller Matt McShane to match the talent of the Wheelcats’ roster.

Perth are on a six-game winning streak after a loss to the Rollerhawks on opening night and while they did not have things easy against West Adelaide last round, they held firm to claim three important wins.

Michael Auprince (29 points, 9.7 rebounds per game) was more than a handful in the paint and Queensland will be hard-pressed to counter his presence around the rim.

They will also have to lock down Shaun Norris (24.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 12 assists) and Amber Merritt who is having a very efficient NWBL campaign with 12 points per contest on the year, good enough to put her in the top 15 in the league for scoring.

Kilsyth Cobras v Wollongong Rollerhawks- Saturday 15th June @3pm
Kilsyth Cobras v Wollongong Rollerhawks – Sunday 16th June @9.30am

Top spot on the ladder could be up for grabs in this two-game series as the undefeated Rollerhawks visit the 5-2 Cobras.

Kilsyth went 2-2 through the opening weekend but claimed three consecutive wins against Queensland a fortnight ago. After prevailing by 20 points in their first clash, the Cobras only won by a point and four points respectively in their two subsequent games but with wins on the board, they comfortably sit third on the ladder currently.

One of those Round 1 defeats came at the hands of Wollongong, falling 44-65 as they were out-scored by 12 from beyond the arc and out-rebounded by ten.

The addition of Shaun Groenwegen since that clash will aid the Cobras immensely while Jontee Brown has proven himself so far this season as a threat alongside the ever-impressive Tristan Knowles.

Wollongong are on a mission for a three-peat though and look very settled with Brett Stibners leading the charge as well as Shawn Russell, who will take on his old side this weekend, Luke Pople and Nick Taylor.

Having won their seven games by an average margin of 33 points, if the Rollerhawks can maintain that intensity through the regular season, they may be unstoppable in 2019.

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