THE Western Port Steelers will take on top-ranked side, Chelsea Gulls, in the semi-final series of the division one Big V competition on Saturday 11 August.
Both of the Mornington Peninsula sides come into the best-of-three series in hot form, with the Gulls winning their past 14 matches and the Steelers having won 10 of their last 11 games.
While the Gulls enjoyed a bye through the opening round of the finals, the Steelers faced, and convincingly defeated the Warrnambool Seahawks (97-71) by 26 points at home.
The Steelers look to continue their winning momentum into their next home game against the Gulls, before heading to the Gulls’ home for the remaining two matches.
Western Port Steelers basketball operations manager, Tyler Molloy, said he was looking forward to seeing “two of the most inform teams” in the league battle it out in the semi’s.
“It’s just a shame we couldn’t face them in the grand final,” Molloy said.
“We’re pretty confident heading into the match. Hopefully we can make the most of our home game and kick off the series with a 1-0 start and put the pressure back on them.”
The sides have faced each other twice, with the Gulls getting the upper-hand on both occasions. However, both games were played in the first half of the season and Molloy said the sides have “changed a fair bit since then”.
Chelsea Gulls head coach Peter Caspersz is still confident his side can take the semi-final series.
“Finishing on top [of the ladder] and having lost just the three games for the season, you’d have to have confidence heading into the game,” he said. “But, in saying that we’ve got to be wary of them and stay on our toes.”
Caspersz said that while they did have a bye through the opening round, they certainly didn’t rest.
“Instead of playing like usual we had another training session on the Saturday and while we could have used it to rest, I think if we needed rest before the finals then it could be a bit worrying,” he said.
“I think they’re all feeling great and when I offered the Saturday training, they all jumped at it.”
The Southern Sharks women’s championship side also made their way into the semi-finals after turning around their three-point loss to Hume City Broncos in round 17, and defeating them in the opening round of finals by six points (90-84).
Southern Peninsula Sharks basketball operations manager Lucas Allen said that “they got the deserved win at a time which is quite important”.
The Sharks will now face Waverly Falcons who have lost their last two games to the Hume City Broncos (70-78), and the Sunbury Jets (61-74) in the opening round of finals.
“They’re prepared for them and by no means intimated,” Allen said.
“They definitely have an opportunity against them and everyone from the club has jumped behind them, so I’m sure there’ll be a strong crowd supporting them.”
The Sharks’ division two men’s side weren’t as fortunate in their finals match against the Melton Thoroughbreds, again suffering a narrow three-point loss.
Allen said that it was just the “little things” that cost them the game.
“We missed 11 free throws and lost by three points,” he said. “That was the difference in the game.”
“It all just adds up to the bigger picture and it’s those things that cost you.”
Allen said the Sharks are now getting behind their women’s team and will start to prepare for their upcoming season shortly.