The following previews were written by FDBA staff member and current university student (Bachelor of Sports Media) Dylan Smith.

His thoughts and opinions may not be shared by the FDBA Front Office.

Thursday A Grade Men

When: Thursday, 1st of April – 8:20pm

Where: Frankston Basketball Stadium – Court 5

Who: Ed Sheehan & Co vs Free Willy 2

Last time they met: Ed Sheehan & Co- 51 defeat Free Willy 2- 45

Bryce Anderson and Chris Touhill have highlighted a great season for Ed Sheehan & Co, averaging 18.2 and 12.5 points, respectively.

The duo of Anderson and Touhill have accounted for 61% of Ed Sheehan and Co’s total scoring average, which sits at 50.4 for the season on a per game basis.

The only blemish on Ed Sheehan & Co’s resume this season is their one loss to Free Willy 2 in round eight.

This loss came at the hands of some hot shooting from Todd Mitchell and Craig Kennedy who combined for 31 points, including four threes.

Mitchell and Kennedy have been superb for Free Willy 2 this summer and will be a handful to contain come Thursday night.

Mitchell has averaged 16.5 points per game whilst his running mate Kennedy has put up 17.3 points of his own this season.

In the qualifying final, Mitchell and Kennedy dominated once again, combining for 37 points, but fell short by five points as Ed Sheehan & Co advanced to the grand final.

While this may be an encouraging result, only falling short by five, Anderson and Touhill did suit up in the qualifier for Ed Sheehan & Co.

Reagan Hill stepped up and scored 16 points in the qualifying final victory for Ed Sheehan & Co.

It seems as though Ed Sheehan & Co have a variety of talented scorers that can take down Free Willy 2 on Thursday night.

However, if a third player other than Mitchell and Kennedy can step up and crack double digit scoring for Free Willy 2, they could have their noses in front when the final buzzer sounds.

Prediction: Ed Sheehan & Co by 5

Thursday B Grade Men

When: Thursday, 1st of April – 7:00pm

Where: Frankston Basketball Stadium – Court 3

Who: Razors vs Duke

Last time they met: Razors- 45 defeat Duke- 32

The Razors have proved they are the team to beat time and time again this season.

From 10 appearances this season they have won nine games, with Seth Howell being the primary scoring option with 12.4 points per game in the league’s best offence (49.1 per game).

While Duke have had a solid campaign, winning seven out of 12 games (including finals), the Razors have been their bogey side, with two of their three biggest losses coming against the ladder leaders.

Another concern for Duke is that they only have the 6th best defence in the league, conceding 42 points per game.

However, another factor to consider when looking at this defensive ranking is the fact that they have played in so many close games.

Duke have played in five games that have been decided by six points or less.

This experience with dealing with tight games may help them in clutch moments if they can stay in touch with the Razors.

If they are to stay in touch, it will be with the help of James Karakatsanis who has averaged 12.7 points per game for Duke this summer.

Karakatsanis missed the opportunity to play for Duke in their 13-point qualifying final loss to the Razors a fortnight ago.

If he suits up for Thursday nights game, it could give Duke the sought-after boost they need to win the grand final.

While the Razors deserve to be favourites in this matchup, Duke still have a wealth of experience and personnel that can get the job done.

Prediction: Razors by 2

Thursday C1 Grade Men

When: Thursday, 1st of April – 7:10pm

Where: Frankston Basketball Stadium – Court 4

Who: Pirates vs Geckos

Last time they met: Pirates-31 defeat Geckos- 26

The Pirates are cruising along nicely, winning four out of their last five games including a victory against top-of-the-table Velvet Frogs in the qualifying final.

Jared King has been vital for the Pirates eight-win season, scoring 11.75 points per game, including a 22-point outburst in the qualifier.

The Geckos have had a solid season, accumulating seven wins and five losses, however, they appear to have the strongest offence in the league.

Over their 12 regular season games, the Geckos have put up an impressive 39.5 points per game, followed closely by the Pirates who average 37.3.

The Geckos have been leaning on David Michael to score the ball this season, his season average sits at 11.2 points per game, however, has scored 33 points over the Geckos two finals games thus far.

The Geckos and Pirates have matched up twice this season, with the team’s stealing a game each.

First in round two, where the Geckos won by eight and then again in round nine where the Pirates secured a five-point win.

The interesting thing to note about the round eight game was that the Geckos leading man David Michael was unable to play, and no other players managed to crack double-digit scoring.

If the Geckos are at full strength on Thursday night, then they are likely to be favourites heading into the game.  Geckos enforcer Brad Smith must stay out of foul trouble to secure the win.

Expect the Pirates to make it uncomfortable by throwing some double teams at him, a viable strategy that could pay off in the intense moments of a grand final.

This should be a high-scoring affair that is likely to come down to which leading scorer can execute in the clutch moments for their respective teams.

Prediction: Geckos by 2

Thursday C2 Grade Men

When: Thursday, 1st of April – 8:10pm

Where: Frankston Basketball Stadium – Court 4

Who: Bayside Sonics vs Jayhawks

Last time they met: Bayside Sonics- 29 defeat Jayhawks- 23

Since losing in round four, Bayside Sonics have been on a tear, winning their next nine games and securing top spot on the ladder.

They have also established themselves as the best offensive and defensive team in the league too.

On offence they score a whopping 47.2 points per game, the next best team are the Jayhawks who score 36.5 on average.

While on defence, Bayside Sonics constrict their opponents to a lowly 22 points per game, with the second-best team in that category being the Back Hanners who concede 26.6 per contest.

The Jayhawks have had a season to be proud of as well, winning six games from 11 appearances and fighting their way from third on the ladder into the grand final.

Riley Nugent has been outstanding for the Jayhawks, scoring 9.7 points per game, including a nice 15-point performance on the eve of the finals in round 12.

While the Bayside Sonics appear to be the team to beat, the Jayhawks 22-point drubbing of the second-placed Back Hanners in the preliminary final would have to make them nervous.

If the Jayhawks are to pull off an upset, they will have to focus on stopping Finn Jones who has been impressive this summer, averaging 19.6 points per game for Bayside Sonics.

Curbing the influence of Jones will be a pivotal for the Jayhawks hopes of success on Thursday night.

If they allow Bayside Sonics and Jones to get off to a flyer, it is going to be a tough game to win.

Prediction: Bayside Sonics by 5

Thursday D Grade Men

When: Thursday, 1st of April – 8:00pm

Where: Frankston Basketball Stadium – Court 3

Who: Akatsuki vs The Knights

Last time they met: Akatsuki- 29 defeat The Knights- 27

It has been a huge summer for The Knights who have been clinical, winning all 11 of their regular season matches.

What has been just as impressive is Dane Burley’s scoring over these 11 games, putting up 10.4 points per game, including a team leading nine points in the preliminary final.

The lone hiccup the Knights have had this season was their defeat to Akatsuki in the qualifying final, their only loss so far.

Akatsuki have been dominant as well, winning eight of their 11 games and scoring an average 38.4 points every week.

The only team to beat that number in the competition is their upcoming opponents, who have put up 40 points per contest.

The real standout numbers are the defensive ones, The Knights allow just 20 points per game while Akatsuki leak 34 points per contest to their opponents.

This type of discrepancy may bring itself to the fore come Thursday night if Akatsuki fail to sure up their defensive plans.

One of Akatsuki’s strengths has been their scoring power, with Hone Pihama taking on the offensive load, averaging a remarkable 14.5 points per game.

The concerning factor for The Knights is that it was not Pihama who did the damage against them in the qualifying final a fortnight ago.

Phoenix McKenna stepped up, pouring in 21 points out of Akatsuki’s 29 total in the two-point victory.

If both McKenna and Pihama can score big on Thursday night, The Knights may have their hands full and lose this game.

This should be a very interesting game, there are The Knights who share the load in terms of scoring and Akatsuki who rely on one or two guys to put the ball in the basket week upon week.

Team basketball usually prevails in this type of situation, it will be an intriguing result on Thursday night that is for sure.

Prediction: The Knights in overtime