Coffs Harbour’s men’s basketball team faces a do-or-die semi-final against Illawarra.
Coffs Harbour’s men’s basketball team faces a do-or-die semi-final against Illawarra. TARUM IMAGES

Crunch time

NOW the semi-finals are here there are no second chances for Coffs Harbour's State League Basketball team.

It's a long road trip south for the Suns as they prepare to meet Illawarra this afternoon.

Victory means being only one game away from the state finals, while defeat means it will be curtains for the season.

Coffs Harbour's player-coach Matt Shanahan played for Wollongong for three years during his sparkling NBL career and he believes the experience gives him a slight knowledge advantage in the lead-up to the do-or-die encounter.

"I know a few of the names and they're always a pretty talented group," Shanahan said. "We'll have our work cut out for us."

The Suns might be facing a tough assignment but Shanahan believes his team has found form at the right end of the season.

"I think we're starting to hit our straps," he said.

"I think the loss a couple of weeks ago to Tamworth gave us a wake-up call that we all can't be relying on a couple of players to get the thing done.

"We're healthy at the right time of year as well, which is good."

Those couple of players are Alex Desroches and Robbie Linton.

Canadian import Desroches has averaged a fraction more than 26 points a game this season, but Shanahan is adamant defence will win it for the Suns.

"Defensively we need to keep them in the 60s. We don't win many games if a team scores over 70 points against us," the coach said.

"While we've had Alex and Robbie here it's been great but a lot of people have looked around to sort of wait for them to do something."

Should the Suns record a backs-to-the-wall victory today they will play next week against the loser of today's clash between Wagga Heat and Ryde Bulls.

A win in that clash and the Suns are headed for the state finals.

First things first, though. The state finals will be only a faded dream if they can't achieve victory against a Hawks team that boasts a line-up taller than the Suns can offer.

"We've got big hearts though," said Shanahan, an asset that's of even greater value at semi-final time.



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