THE Kennedy’s Tours and Bomaderry RSL Shoalhaven Waratah State League Tigers have qualified for the 2013 Waratah Molten State League men’s final series to be held in Sutherland this weekend.
It has been a mammoth 23 years since the men have featured in a division one final series, as it was back in 1990 when they won their last championship.
The men will make the trip up to Sutherland on Saturday morning and will play their semi-final against old arch rivals and next door neighbours the Illawarra Hawks.
The Hawks secured their spot in the final four just last weekend when they defeated the Wagga Wagga Heat in their elimination final 77-74.
The Tigers have had a week off after defeating the Sutherland Sharks 66-49 in their second chance quarter-final in Sutherland two weeks ago.
They sent a message out to the other teams who have qualified with a 17-point win over the competition favorites at the Shark Tank.
Coach Scott Balsar has had his team focused among all the media and local community hype this week having his last two training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday before they try to create history on Saturday and Sunday in Sutherland.
“The boys are pumped, yet focused on the task at hand. We have made a dream run home, facing nearly the impossible at times, but we have kept our minds on our ultimate goal,” Balsar said.
“We have taken each game as it comes and this is how we will approach Saturday’s game. I have a scout on the Hawks and we will work on the scout, but the primary focus will be on our stuff. We don’t want to shift the focus too much on them.
“We are playing good basketball at the right end of the season and we will continue with what’s working for us. It has been our defensive efforts that have got us here, so why would we fix something that’s not broken.”
The Tigers boast the best for and against percentages in the entire league and have kept teams to 50 points or below in every game, while racking up 100 points of their own per game.
“Execution in the offence is the other key to our success this weekend; poise and patience, plus getting to the back end of our offensive sets. But again it will be all generated by our defence, something we at the Tigers pride ourselves on,” Balsar said.
“This is why we are a hot favourite and it is time to stand up and deliver what the entire Shoalhaven deserves – another championship banner to hang in the stadium and be proud of.”
Coach Balsar also expressed his belief and how proud he was of his entire team. “We have come together from day one and we are like a huge family. We stick together and play for each other,” he said.
“There are no individuals in our team. They are a terrific bunch of men and I have enjoyed every moment in coaching these guys and getting them to the finals again.
“I hope we can win it because they all deserve a piece of the championship.”
The likes of American import Chris Moore and skipper Tom Cook, veteran off guard Paul Roddam, power forwards Jeremy Goode, Keiren Corbyn and Brent Nemeth, and the dynamic Tom Chiumento will all be called upon to step up and lead the Tigers into battle.
The Tigers have also relied a lot on their bench.
The likes of Ben Morris and Leighvi Dennison, with youngsters Tom Ozolins and Tim Hanlon, may all be called upon over the weekend to contribute to achieving the Tigers’ goal of taking home the championship.
“Most of the Tigers players have finals experience as they played in the division two grand final only two years ago in Newcastle, and as they say, you have to lose one first before you win one,” Balsar said.
There is plenty of motivation for the Tigers to win the title, but the one that stands out the most is veteran center Brad Mulvihill, who played in the last championship for the Tigers in 1990, aged 22.
“So there has been a long time between drinks. It would be a fitting Father’s Day gift if we could give Brad another championship,” Balsar said.
“He would be the only player involved in all three championships for the Tigers, a tremendous milestone on its own.”
Balsar said his team and support staff have put a whole lot of time and effort into getting this far.
The Tigers’ campaign started in November, 2012 when they hit the floor for the first training sessions.
Balsar said it would just be great to win a championship for a number of reasons.
“For the boys and the staff, especially Bradley, as this just might be his last hurrah. It would be great for him to go out with another banner,” he said.
“Also for our sponsors, who have supported us from the get go, and lastly our volunteers and the Shoalhaven community, as they have supported us all year long weather it’s on the road or at home.”
Tip-off for the semi-final against Illawarra is 4pm on court three at Sutherland.
If the Tigers win, then they will play in the final at noon on Sunday on court one.
The other semi-final is being played at 11am with the Newcastle Hunters taking on the home side, the Sutherland Sharks, on court one, also at Sutherland.
If the Tigers win then they will play the winner of this match.
“We are hoping we can get a good following as it is only up the road in Sutherland. We have had tremendous support all year and it would be nice to have the fans and supporters make the trip up and get us home in two big games,” Balsar said.
There is still room on the bus if supporters want to get on board.
Contact Scott on 0412 770 713.
Accommodation where the team is staying can be booked at Rydges Cronulla.
Win or lose the Tigers will return to their major sponsors, the Bomaderry RSL late Sunday afternoon, where you can join them to celebrate their finals weekend.
There will be karaoke and a huge celebration for everyone involved.
Families and supporters that could not make it up to Sutherland are most welcome to join the Tigers at the club.
The Tigers semi-final will have live stats running.
You can watch the live stats by going to the Basketball NSW website www.nswbasketball.
net.au, click on competitions, then on Waratah League, then on Waratah State League Men, then on 2013 Waratah League Finals Weekend Results.
Do not miss out on the Tigers’ end of year presentation night to be held at the Bomaderry RSL Club on Friday, September 13 at 6pm.
Tickets are $25 per person, which includes a two course meal, and can be purchased by contacting Scott Balsar on 0412 770 713 or email@example.com.
The theme for the night is Friday, 13th so find your witch’s hat, dust of your best Halloween costume, and join the Tigers in celebrating their 2013 season.
Hanlon’s voice over and entertainment will be providing the music/disco on the evening.