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The 2015 NWBL Finals Series is a forgotten memory for the 2019 Sureway Roller Hawks but it will serve as a reminder of the tough task ahead for the defending champions.

stibners finals pv

The Roller Hawks finished first that year with a record of 13-2, but despite being in the box seat, losses to the Red Dust Heelers and the Kilsyth Cobras saw the side have to settle for third place. 


Captain Brett Stibners says that more prominent in the players’ minds are memories from last season where the side had to play three sudden death games to win the title after finishing third in the regular season. 


“Throughout the season all we want to do is finish top two so you get a chance to go straight through to the Grand Final if you win. Now it’s all about winning that first game against Perth and our focus is on what we can do and what we can control.” says Stibners


The importance of getting a win against the Perth Wheelcats on Friday night is a sentiment point guard Luke Pople agrees with. 


“We know we’ve beaten them but we also know that we want the day off on Saturday. We don’t want to do it like we did last year which was the hard way.” says Pople.


Central to beating the Wheelcats will be restricting Michael Auprince and Shaun Norris.


“They’ve got the biggest player and the best player in the world, so we need to stop them and when we do we have three other guys we have to guard as well. They’re going to be tough, they’re going to be pushing and they’re going to have some players back from the women’s league so they’re going to be really strong and they’re going to push us.” says Pople.


The winner will progress directly to the Grand Final on Sunday while the loser will get a second chance on Saturday. 


“The third and fourth teams this year are quality and so it’s going to be a very tough game whoever loses that 1 vs 2 playoff.” says Stibners.


The playoff between third and fourth will see the Kilsyth Cobras take on the Queensland Spinning Bullets. The Bullets secured fourth place with wins over Sydney on the weekend while Kilsyth, who already had third place sewn up were too good for the Red Dust Heelers.


“We know if we play our best basketball then we will do very well and probably win the game. Perth have got a couple of key guys who score 90% of their points so we really need to focus on those two.” surmises Stibners.


Added Pople, “You’ve got four teams all going for the same thing and us with a target on our back, we’re going for three straight so people will be coming after us and we’ll wear that as a badge of pride.”


“All the teams can score points so it’s mainly our defence and when we play good “D” we play good offence. 


The Roller Hawks will fly out at midday on Friday. All games will be streamed live on the Basketball Australia Youtube page.


NWBL FINALS FIXTURES @ Southern Districts Basketball Association, Zahel Street, Carina QLD


Friday August 16: 

GAME 1: KILSYTH COBRAS vs QLD SPINNING BULLETS @ 5:30pm (Loser eliminated)

GAME 2: ROLLER HAWKS vs PERTH WHEELCATS @ 8:30pm (Winner advances to Gold Medal game)


Saturday August 17: 

GAME 3: Winner Game 1 vs Loser Game 2 @ 3:30pm


Sunday August 12: 

GAME 4: Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 3 (Bronze Medal Game) @ 10:30am

GAME 5: Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 3 (Gold Medal Game) @ 2:00pm