Pioneers pressure test

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Pioneers pressure test

The Castec Rural Pioneers will return to Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre twice this weekend as they host a rare double header at home.

Tomorrow night the Pioneers will face the 11-8 Knox Raiders for a second time this year before taking the court against the 7-12 Melbourne Tigers on Saturday night.

Heading into the weekend the Pioneers sit first on the ladder in the NBL1 South conference with a record of 15-4.

The Raiders have been playing some good basketball lately and have been a competitive team all season considering they are the reigning champions.

They are coming off a dominant game where they held the Nunawading Spectres to 47 points.

A positive sight for Mount Gambier heading into the weekend will be the return of the league’s leading scorer Nick Marshall who will be a key player in this match up.

Last time these sides played the Pioneers stunned the Raiders, beating them by 21 points on their home 


Head Coach Richard Hill believes this game will be another tough challenge for his side.

“I feel like we caught them by surprise a little bit last time when we played them over there, we had not been playing that well at that time but we played really well over there so I think they’re going to be super tough, they’re one of the better teams in the competition,” Hill said.

“They’re in a dog fight for ladder spots so it’s going to be one hell of a game.”

The Pioneers will back up again on Saturday night as they face the Melbourne Tigers.

The Tigers have not had the best season so far and are coming off two tough losses last week.

Fatigue may play a role in this game as Melbourne will be coming into Mount Gambier fresh and ready as this is their only game of the round, whereas the Pioneers may be a bit sore after playing a game the night before.

The Tigers are not to be underestimated as they have a world class head coach in Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze.

Hill reflected on what it’s like to go up against a coach like Gaze.

“I have known Andrew for a long time, coaching against him is no different to coaching against someone else, he’s just a good dude, he’s been around basketball for a long time and it’s great for the league to have somebody like him involved,” Hill said.

Hill highlighted the fact that this will be another tough game for his side after playing a game the night before.

“They have been all over the place, sometimes they’re really good and sometimes they’re really bad, the ladder says that we should win the game but what we have learned across the season is that if you do not play well then you will be beaten,” Hill said.

“They will not have played the night before so I figure they will be in on Friday so we sort of lose home court advantage and we have to back up the next night when they’re sitting there and waiting for us, so I expect a tough game.”

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