The Maitland Mustangs will still progress to semi-finals despite a narrow loss to the Bankstown Bruins on Saturday night.
The Mustangs were certain to finish sixth no matter the outcome of the final round match, but appeared sluggish in their 86-89 loss at the Maitland Federation Centre.
They will face Manly in the first round of the semi-finals this week.
Coach Luke Boyle said the match had highlighted deficiences in the team’s approach in attack against a zone defence.
“They played a zone style the whole game and we haven’t faced that in a few weeks,” he said.
“We’ll just have to practice it in case Manly do that to us next match (in the semi-finals).”
The Mustangs started the match on the front foot with an early lead, but the Bruins had pared it back to 22-all by the first break.
The second quarter belonged to the visitors, who were six points ahead by the long break.
Maitland outscored the Bruins by 13 in the third quarter, but lost the last by 10 as Bankstown clawed their way back to victory.
“They played like a team with nothing to lose,” Boyle said.
“We started off well, but then some of our guys got a bit anxious and that restricted us.”
Mitch Rueter again led the scoring with 28 to his name while King Cannon hit 22 points and made 20 rebounds and Kieran Gleeson collected 12 rebounds.
The Mustangs begin their finals campaign away from home against Manly – a team they beat just two rounds ago.
“I’d prefer to play Manly than Sydney or Bankstown,” Boyle said.
“We know what to do to beat those guys.”