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GM's Message: Finals

After 19 Rounds of highly-skilled and enormously entertaining basketball, we stand on the verge of an utterly engrossing 2016 NBL final series. First of all, congratulations must go to Melbourne United for finishing minor premiers, and to Perth, Illawarra and New Zealand for all reaching the post season. With Melbourne and Illawarra, it is exciting to have two teams make the play-offs that didn’t qualify last year. The performance of both clubs this season just goes to show how close and competitive the NBL is. Now with 112 regular season games concluded, all attention turns to the NBL’s 38th finals series and two massive semi-finals that commence later this week. After squaring up against each other twice in Round 19, Melbourne and New Zealand will go toe-to-toe at least twice more as they both strive to reach the Grand Final. Melbourne have had an outstanding season to date, residing on top of the ladder for 14 of the 19 rounds. With an away win never being more important than in finals basketball, it is well worth noting that United had more away wins this season than any other team in the competition. Then there is the Breakers. They have had a very impressive end to the regular season, rolling off five wins on the trot to jump over Adelaide into fifth spot after Round 18. Add this form line to their championship winning experience, which has seen them win eight straight play-off series, and they shape up as a very real chance. Following Game 1 between Melbourne and the Breakers on Thursday night, it’s the turn of Perth and Illawarra, who get the second semi-final series underway in Perth on Friday night. This series certainly contains a lot of interesting angles and sub-plots. It marks Perth’s 30th straight appearance in an NBL finals series and sees Hawks coach Rob Beveridge and star point guard Kevin Lisch go up against the club they won a championship with in 2009-10. Then there is the fact that if Illawarra are to progress they will need to break a losing streak in Perth that dates back 21 games to 2005. With teams playing each other both home and away, the NBL finals series is a unique event in Australian sport. The excitement that builds throughout a series and the atmosphere created inside stadiums is truly fantastic. We certainly have a massive three weeks of finals basketball ahead of us.
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