THE Kennedy’s Tours and Bomaderry RSL Shoalhaven Tigers have qualified for the Waratah State League quarter-finals of the division one men’s competition after finishing on top of the pool B ladder with a 13 and two record at the end of the regular season.
Last weekend the Tigers made short work of the Goulburn Bears, defeating them 102–36 and securing a finals birth with a second chance.
This weekend they will take on the Sutherland Sharks, which finished with a 15 and one record and on top of the pool D ladder.
The showdown will take place in Sutherland at the Shark Tank on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
Coach Scott Balsar was pleased with his team’s efforts last weekend and throughout the regular season, but admitted that the Sharks won’t be easy.
“To finish on top of our pool is great, but our focus now is on the Sharks and winning this quarter-final,” he said.
It has been two years since the Tigers have made it this far.
It will be a bit of deja vu for the team as they played Sutherland two years ago in Sutherland in a sudden death quarter-final and won.
“The biggest incentive for me right now was that the last time the men won a championship was 23 years ago in 1990, so this is my motivation right now, to get the boys to the grand final and bring home the holy grail,” Balsar said.
The team will be at full strength going into this game after having players out because of injuries, work and family commitments over the past few weeks.
The return of veteran centre Brad Mulvihill will lighten the load in the middle and give the Tigers an interior presence at both ends of the floor.
Mulvihill was missing from last weekend’s game on the road due to a minor knee injury.
“A week off the court and training would have done his body well, so we are hoping he is refreshed and ready to go on Saturday afternoon,” Balsar said.
Power forward Jeremy Goode will be back after three games out due to family matters and back up point guard Tom Chiumento will return after work commitments have kept him away.
The Tigers will be relying heavily on their big names to take home the win.
Skipper Tom Cook has had some good rest over the past few games, but Balsar predicted he will go the full 40 on Saturday.
“He is a great player and leader. He has led the boys into battle each week and has a great understanding of the game. He has played a major role in our season turn around and getting us this far,” Balsar said.
American import Chris Moore has shown great improvement in the Tigers’ past few games and again will be a focus point.
“But he will also be a target for the opposition. He posted 40 points last week and will be expected to be a scoring threat against the Sharks,” Balsar said.
The “big rig” Brent Nemeth will be hoping to continue the form he showed last week on the road.
“The energy and intensity that he brings to the Tigers outfit is unbelievable. He plays like a man possessed at times and he motivates the boys so we are praying that he can bring it again this week,” Balsar said.
Veteran off guard Paul Roddam will be called upon yet again to carry the load in the scoring department for the Tigers.
“He has been in great form and last weekend proved that he is one of the premier guards in this league, notching up 18 points against the Bears. When he is hot there is no stopping him and he may be looking to fry some fish at the Shark tank,” Balsar said.
Big games will also be needed by the in-form Keiren Corbyn, power forward Jeremy Goode and the lightning quick Tom Chiumento.
Balsar will be looking for contributions from his bench in Ben Morris, Brad Mulvihill, Tom Ozolins and Leighvi Dennison.
“All of these players have given great contributions in recent matches and without them we won’t be able to get it done. They will be called to play their roles again this weekend,” he said.
The Sharks also have their own cavalry in perennial all-star and now naturalised American player Rod Proctor.
Proctor has played in the ABA and has a long career in playing across Australia. Balsar predicted Proctor will be a handful for the Tigers’ guards to contain.
“He would be pushing 40 years of age, but plays like a 30-year-old. He is lightning quick and will direct the Sharks from the point spot,” he said.
Former Sharks ABA player Brendan Gleeson has stepped down to play state league this year and has years of experience.
Former Wollongong Hawk Guy Brandon will also be suited up for the Sharks.
“He is in the best shape he has ever been in for many years and will be a handful for the Tigers’ bigs to contain as he can play inside and out and is very experienced in finals basketball,” Balsar said.
The match up looks to be even so it will come down to the defensive efforts, execution on offence and drive.
“We have been working on our individual defence and team defence over the past few months and it has proven to pay off as we boast the best for and against in the entire league, scoring 1500 points for and only having 844 points scored against. So on average we are scoring 100 points per game, while restricting our opposition just to 56 points per game,” Balsar said.
“Our goal is to have teams score no more than 10 points a quarter. We have been allowing just 14 points per quarter according to our averages. If we can restrict Sutherland to 14 points per quarter we will win. But it is finals basketball and teams step it up.
“This is what we have to do as well. It is the money end of the season and all teams are striving towards the championship game.”