By BACT Media Unit – 30 August 2023

Finals for Basketball ACT’s Premier League get underway this week, with several blockbusters on-court to open proceedings.

The 2023 Premier 1 competition was one of the closest in many years, with lots of local talent spreading out through the clubs. The defending champions in both Prem 1 Men and Prem 1 Women are back in contention, while a few surprise packets will fancy their chances of taking the title in 2023.

Here is a preview of the Qualifying and Elimination Finals being held at Belconnen basketball Stadium and Tuggeranong Southern Cross Stadium onWednesday 30 August 2023.

Premier 1 Men

Qualifying Final – Vikings v Norths

It’s 1st v 2nd in the Qualifying Final, with a spot in the 2023 Premier 1 Grand Final at stake.

Tuggeranong Vikings head into the Final as defending champions, while Norths claimed 2nd spot on the ladder through an eager and energetic young core of players.

Vikings, who finished on a 17-1 record in 2023, boast a star studded line-up that features 2023 NBL1 East All-Star 5 member Glenn Morison, Canberra Gunners stars James Toohey and Shaun Mills, Canberra Gunners Academy young guns Jake Saunders, Abe Riley and Ryan Tobler, as well as wily veterans Tom Commins and Reece Kay. Vikings have been the team to beat over the last few season, and head into the Finals series full of confidence.

Norths’ success in 2023 comes off the back of a strong core of young stars building on their team successes, to position themselves as a strong contender, after finishing the season with a 12-6 record. Canberra Gunners Will Rice and Zac McDermott, alongside Academy stars Mitch Robinson, Che Peters and Angus Byatt, have blended well with Norths stars Ryan Armstrong and Josh Watts. With a strong team game, Norths are capable of an upset.

Vikings hold a 2-0 record over Norths in 2023, with a 87-78 win in Round 11, and a 104-96 victory in Round 22.

Tip-off at 7.45pm – Belconnen Basketball Stadium.

Elimination Final – Warriors v Ramblers

Warriors take on Ramblers in the Elimination Final, with a chance to keep their 2023 season alive.

Warriors have steadily leveled-up over the last few years, and in 2023 have built a strong court game that has seen them finish in 3rd, with a 12-6 record. Led by Robert and Derek Emelifeonwu, and featuring Canberra Gunners Academy players Jordan Hilder, Mamadou Fall and David Dut, Warriors have also peppered their squad with BACT Rep talent looking to make the next step, such as Arjun Rao and Toby Davis-Lyon.

Meanwhile Ramblers have gone about their business in 2023 in a quieter fashion, recording a 11-7 record to claim 4th spot. Points scoring whiz Bryn Williams, savvy veteran Hayden Galbraith and Cameron Bokeham, are relishing the opportunity to run with MVP contender, and Canberra Gunner, Nathan Smith in 2023, as Smith provides a strong focus for opposition teams, allowing other Ramblers to get open and make their shots.

Games have been split – 1-1 – in 2023, with Warriors snagging a 77-75 win in Round 2, before Ramblers hit back with a 67-55 victory in Round 14.

Tip-off at 7.10pm – Tuggeranong Southern Cross Stadium.

Premier 1 WOMEN

Qualifying Final – Dodgers v Norths

This is bound to be EPIC – with 1st taking on 2nd in the Qualifying Final of Prem 1 Women, with both teams finishing on a 13-4 record for 2023.

Dodgers, have a point to prove in 2023 , after going down in the 2022 decider to Rats, and have been of a consistently high-standard this season. While some stalwarts of the club have taken a step back in 2023, Dodgers took out the Minor Premiership on the back of a host of young talent taking their opportunities on court. Hannah Briskey, Ava Boyes, Zara Russell, Sophie Brennan and Elise Finney have utilised their stellar seasons to re-shape the core of the Dodgers, with some guidance from Jasmyn Boutzos, Claudea Waihape Andrews and Rachel Mate.

Norths have equally built their 2023 success off the back of a great blend of young stars and savvy vets, with Caitlin Rowe and Bianca Dufelmeier leading a young squad that includes Grace Kent, Sophie McWatt, Georgia Knight and Tilly Bean. Norths will be primed to show what they are capable of, with a solid team game, complemented by players who can hit some big scores if not guarded properly.

Games were split – 2-2 – during the season, with Dodgers grabbing wins in Round 9 (88-59) and Round 14(61-55), and Norths grabbing wins in Round 4 (69-64) and Round 19 (88-81).

Tip-off at 6.15pm – Belconnen Basketball Stadium.

Elimination Final – Rats v Owls

The Elimination Final will see 2022 defending champions, Ginninderra Rats, take on the ANU Owls in an “all or nothing” clash.

Rats have found their title defence in 2023 a tough campaign, with several players succumbing to injuries, as well as taking up college opportunities affecting their season. However, experienced campaigners Nikki Worner and Sarah Cooper lead a strong contingent of young stars such as Ilijana Matijevic, Ella Collins and Laura Topp on-court, and there is nothing more dangerous than a rat backed into a corner.

Owls have continued to keep pace with the top-teams in Prem 1 over the last few season, and enter the Elimination Final with nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Jiaxi Huang, Ella O’Brien, Jessica Law and Yola Reineke for a strong leadership core for the Owls, capable of springing an upset. However, the loss of Monique Emelifeonwu to college, will be a big hole the Owls will need to fill.

Owls hold a 3-2 record over the Rats in 2023, with victories in Round 6 (67-60), Round 11 (67-64) and Round 21 (47-31, while the Rats grabbed wins in Round 1 (67-66) and Round 16 (81-67).

Tip-off at 9.15pm – Belconnen Basketball Stadium