FIVE TEAMS, 4 SPOTS, WHO WILL MISS OUT?
The 2009/10 NBL season is set to be one of the closest yet as five teams battle it out to make the playoffs. With one round remaining in the regular season, playoff positions one to four are up for grabs.
Perth(16-11) have one game remaining against Townsville(15-11) at home, the Wildcats will need to win this game by more than two points to secure the minor premiership and take home court advantage throughout the finals. Perth are the only side who are guaranteed a playoff spot. Shaun Redhage has had a rough couple of months and surely will be ready to catch fire over the next month. If Perth can win their last game and take that home court advantage throughout the finals they will be very very tough to beat in the playoffs.
Townsville have two matches remaining one being against cellar dwellers Adelaide at home and the other being against Perth at the ‘The Jungle’. It could come down to this match to see who comes first. Townsville must not lose by more than two points if it comes down to this match for the minor premiership. Can Williams go and run a muck in Perth like he has done in previous years?
The Gold Coast Blaze (15-11) has two fixtures remaining. The Blaze will travel to New Zealand (13-13) and then cross the Tasman to play against the Tigers in Melbourne. Both games are going to be extremely tough, Breakers are hot on the trot while Melbourne will be farewelling Chris Anstey and Sam MacKinnon. Somehow I don't think they are going to want to go out losers.
The Wollongong Hawks (14-12) continue to deliver when it matters most. Their playoff destiny is in their hands when they face Melbourne at home and then travel to Adelaide which could decide their season. Will point guards Rhys and Luke Martin handle the pressure to stay alive in the NBL competition. They have been the surprise packet of the 2009/10 competition so it won't be out of the ordinary if they do hold on. Their home ground this year has been a fortress but with Anstey and Sammy Mac playing their last couple of games somehow I think it may be broken. This could mean their playoff spot could hinge on a trip to Adelaide, the Dome is a very tough place to win in and an extremely hostile environment.
The New Zealand Breakers are the hottest team in the NBL at the moment. Four wins in a row has allowed them a final chance to grab a playoff spot. Red hot Kirk Penney has found his touch of late and looks unstoppable. Added motivation for the team being Tony Ronaldson calling the quits they wouldn't want the champion to miss the playoffs in his last season. For them to make the finals they will need to win both games in Round 20. They face the Blaze at home and then travel to Cairns. If they can beat the Blaze at home then the trip to Cairns should be no problem with that added incentive to make the finals.