The NBL1 Cobra Men tip-off their 2019 postseason campaign on Saturday night, when they take on the top ranked Ballarat Miners.
With the Women’s Finals series delayed for a week to accomodate the Australian Opals camp – currently being held in Phoenix, USA – the Cobra Men are the lone Kilsyth team in postseason action this weekend.
The Cobras clinched the NBL1’s fourth seed on Saturday night with a home win over the Dandenong Rangers, finishing tied with both Geelong and Melbourne with a 12-8 regular season record. The Cobras held the head to head regular season advantage over both the Supercats and Tigers to secure a top-four finish, which guarantees the Cobras a second chance if they drop this weekend’s game — although head coach Justin Schueller doesn’t plan on using it.
Schueller discussed the Cobras weekend ahead with the NBL1 (article via NBL1.com.au):
Kilsyth Cobras coach Justin Schueller says his team expects to make the NBL1 championship game, as they prepare to begin their finals campaign this Saturday night against Ballarat Miners.
The Cobras have battled injuries and inconsistency throughout the season but still managed to secure a pivotal top-four spot, which sees them earn a second chance in the NBL1 finals.
They begin their finals journey on the road in Ballarat against the top seeded Miners this Saturday night, and Schueller believes his team is ready to live up to their lofty standards.
“We have got an expectation we will be there on the last day and we will see how we go,” Schueller said.
“They’ve been the standout all year. We are excited, it is what we wanted, we wanted the double chance.
“It’s a good challenge going into Ballarat and we want to play our best at this time of year and provided we are healthy, we will give it a good shot.”
Kilsyth’s season has been so riddled by player availability that their full squad hasn’t played one game together all year, and with Owen Odigie injured and Tohi Smith-Milner set to fulfil New Zealand national team duties, the finals won’t see Schueller’s roster challenges get any easier.
The Melbourne United assistant coach concedes it has been somewhat frustrating the Cobras haven’t got a clean run at it but won’t let it hold as an excuse.
“It’s been a new challenge,” Schueller said.
“The team we recruited hasn’t played together yet. We haven’t had all 12 guys on the floor at the same time. What it has done has given other guys opportunities to step up.
“Sean MacDonald has gone to another level for us, Tohi has really benefitted from having that extra pressure to perform.
“We don’t make any excuses. It would be nice to have all 12 guys fit, healthy and ready to go.
“Owen being out for the rest of the year does hurt us, he is a big piece of what we do, but it won’t stop us from giving it our best shot.”
Despite all the curveballs thrown Kilsyth’s way this season, Schueller is ready for his team to seize the opportunity that awaits them across the next four weeks.
“Any team that’s in the finals can get it,” he said.
“We have seen our tight the league has been all year and all these teams are in a good position.
“I think the double chance and home finals help. For those teams from now on, it is survive and advance mentality and that’s what we have got.”
The Cobras face the Miners in the first NBL1 qualifying final this Saturday night at 7:30pm at the Mars Minerdome.
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