Pioneers travel to play top side

BLOCKBUSTER: Mount Gambier Pioneers women's captain Isabella Brancatisano will look to lead her troops to a win against top side Keilor Thunder this Friday night. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

James Murphy

THE NBL1 South basketball season will continue an extended Round 9 this weekend, with the Mount Gambier Pioneers women facing a blockbuster on the road this Friday night.

In the first game of the round the Pioneers were disappointed to go down to Geelong United on their home court and will seek redemption against ladder leader Keilor Thunder this week.

The Thunder loom as a dangerous opponent, sitting on top of the table with 13 wins and a loss from their 14 outings.

However, the Pioneers will take confidence from that single blemish on their rival’s record, as the loss was dealt by Mount Gambier back in Round 4.

The return of Zitina Aokuso will also boost spirits, with her absence against Geelong due to Opals commitments leaving a noticeable hole.

Currently the Pioneers sit in sixth position and after a prolific start to the season have lost their last three games.

They will be desperate to return to the winner’s list and will trust in their talent to get them there.

The previous meeting between the sides had Mount Gambier on top by 25 points.

It was an even team performance on the night, with Aokuso, captain Isabella Brancatisano, Haliegh Reinoehl and Sherrie Calleia all shooting double figures.

Aokuso was equally impressive off the boards and finished the match with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

It was a big second half which proved the difference on the occasion, as the Pioneers won the third term by 10 points and the last by 13 to cruise to a strong win.

Lily Carmody, Maddison Rocci and Lilly Rotunno were the ones to watch from Keilor and they will be out to impress again on their home court.

Having not lost a match since then, the Thunder will be filled with confidence and will not be taken lightly.

However, Pioneers head coach Matt Sutton said he and his team looked forward to the challenge and were eager to hit the court against another quality opponent this week.