The Maitland Mustangs will be at full strength for Saturday night's Kibble Mallon Cup decider.
The Mustangs are expecting a packed Maitland Federation Centre and a fired-up Newcastle Hunters eager to retrieve something from an otherwise disappointing season.
Victory will not only see the Cup, which symbolises Hunter basketball supremacy back in Maitland, but book a place for the Mustangs in the play-offs.
“It’s going to be a huge night and we really want the cup back. It’s a goal we set ourselves at the start of the season,” Mustangs coach Luke Boyle said.
“Boyle said the team was pumped ahead of the game but they were very much focused on key messages of winning each quarter and particularly finishing strong.”
There will also be a strong focus on cutting down space to limit the Hunters three-point game.
“Newcastle are a side which shoots a reasonably high percentage of three-point attempts and doesn’t score highly,” Boyle said.
“Maintaining our defensive intensity across the four-quarters will be a key focus.
“I think if we can put their three-point shooters under pressure we can take advantage with our rebounding strength and hit them hard with quick counter-attack.”
Boyle said they learned lessons from last game against Newcastle and would also have key player Sam Huggins and Taiga Cantor available.
“Sam makes a fair bit of difference for us not just in height. He is a steadying and smart player and we missed that last time,” he said.
“We need to keep in the intensity on from the start, look to rotate and run as much as we can.”
Boyle will also look at the combinations on court when making rotations.
“It’s not about anyone getting any less game time, it’s more about the timing and separating the young guys a bit more rather than having so many of the experienced guys sitting on the bench at one time,” he said.
“Sometimes we’re scoring a lot of points, but we just don’t seem to make any ground and we need to get the balance right.”
Tip off in the main game is at 7pm on Saturday.