The Maitland Mustangs have received a shot in the arm with coach Luke Boyle and star US import Isaiah Ellis winning major awards on the eve of the Waratah Champions League play-offs on the Central Coast on the weekend.
Boyle was named coach of the year and Ellis defensive player of the year ahead of Saturday's semi-final clash against the Central Coast Crusaders.
A big Maitland crowd is expected to travel down the M1 for Saturday night's clash, with the winner progressing to Sunday's grand final against the winner of the other semi-final between Manly and Norths Bears.
Boyle said being named coach of the year reflected on the efforts of everyone involved at the club.
He said Ellis was clearly the best defensive player of the year and probably one of the best defenders ever to play in the competition.
"Without a doubt he is going to be in the all-star five. He was the best big man in the league by far," he said.
"He has been averaging a double, double and got six blocks in the final which is just amazing.
"We've got the best defender in the league. I honestly believe we've got some of the best guards in the league, three of the best defenders in the league too."
It adds up to the Mustangs having their best chance yet to claim an elusive Champion league Men's title.
"There is no excuses for us because we have the personnel to win the whole thing," Boyle said.
"We've beaten every team in the comp so we know we can beat anyone on our day."
The Mustangs put in probably their best performance of the season in smashing the Sydney Comets 108-81 in last Saturday's elimination final in Maitland.
"If we turn up with the some energy and execution as we did last week we are going to cause huge problems for anyone," he said.
"That's what we will be aiming for again this week. We are getting better and better every week and the thing I like about these guys is that they learn from their mistakes."
The Mustangs last loss was a disappointing 80-74 defeat by the Crusaders in round 18.
"To be honest it was an ugly game, we allowed them 41 points out of our mistakes and they capitalised on it," Boyle said.
"I think they made us pay about 17 points on second chance points and then about 24 points off 24 turnovers.
"It was our worst statistical game we've had all year. I think the boys have taken away from that if we play our worst and lose by six we can put up a good fight against these guys.
"The other thing is that we missed Isaiah for a quarter of the match with a finger injury, so you bring his defence and offence into the game and it could have been a different result
"Since that game against Central Coast we've made limited mistakes with turnovers and our defence has been red-hot.
"We had a couple of guys in foul trouble that game but we've got that back in check."
Boyle said the team was maintaining a business as usual approach in preparation for the weekend, despite a huge excitement.
"Our attitude is that If you make the finals it's great, but no one remembers who was runner-up," he said.
"We really want to win this. As I said there will be no excuses we have the personnel to win, it's up to us now.
"I know the boys believe in themselves. They're not cocky, but confident that if we play at our best we have the game to beat all the teams we will come up against and have beaten this year.
"I think a lot of the confidence stems from us seeing stuff we've worked on all year coming to fruition in our game over the past few weeks."
The Mustangs take on the Central Coast at 7pm on Saturday. The grand final is at 3.30pm on Sunday.