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NBL Finals Battle Royale: Why each team can win it all
It's NBL Finals time! After what has been a hugely successful regular season for the competition, it is now down to just 4 teams who will battle it out for the 2015/16 NBL Championship.
The first round match-ups are set to be a treat. Minor Premiers Melbourne will take on New Zealand whilst second placed Perth will battle it out against Illawarra.
This season has been one of the closest in recent memory, as shown by the final four places all being up for grabs heading into the final round of the season. Because of that, every team would feel confident that they can win it all this season.
Here is why each team CAN win the 2015/16 NBL Championship.
The top-placed Melbourne United will hold home-court advantage throughout the Finals series. This is a massive edge they will have over their opponents as they are 11-3 at home. With sold-out crowds becoming the norm for this team, the atmosphere can be daunting to the opposition team.
Perhaps the most integral player to Melbourne's Championship aspirations is Chris Goulding. Goulding enjoys playing at home as opposed to on the road, to say the least. CG43 has averaged 21 points per game at home, and just 14.8 on the road. He thrives off the energy of the fans, and loves to put on a show for the adoring Melbourne crowd.
It's pretty simple. If Melbourne can win all their home games throughout the finals series, they will take home the chocolates.
The Wildcats have seen it all before and they know what it takes to win. With Damian Martin and Jermaine Beal, both key pieces from the 2014 Championship team, still steering the ship, confidence within the group would be sky-high.
The experience within is perfect for a team primed to make a title run. Martin and Beal, along with Nathan Jawai, Shawn Redhage, Greg Hire and Jesse Wagstaff, are experienced players that understand how to get it done at the business end of the season. When up against the best of the best, these are the types of players that rise to the occasion and lift their team to victory.
If the Wildcats are going to win their second Championship in 3 years, it will take all their experience and toughness to get it done.
The Hawks are just an awesome team that love to play together. The big three; Kirk Penney, Kevin Lisch and AJ Ogilvy form a formidable trio, but you'd be a fool to think that's all they have.
Of course, Penney and Lisch, the fourth and fifth leading scorers in the league, will have a huge say in how far this team can go, and Ogilvy is the key on the defensive end, but it's the lesser likes who might just be able to push this team to the Championship.
Tim Coenraad, Oscar Forman, Kevin White, Rhys Martin and Jarrad 'Agent 97' Weeks are all absolutely vital to the Illawarra Hawks.
Martin is a terrific passer and loves to set up his teammates in great spots. Weeks is one of the stories of the season and continues to play his heart out every game, providing his team with energy and enthusiasm.
Whilst Coenraad, Forman and White all provide the Hawks with some power in the two guard and forward positions.
The depth of this team can match it with anyone, and each player will need to stand up for the Hawks to make a run.
New Zealand Breakers
Corey Webster is undoubtedly the key, as New Zealand aim to go back-to-back. Webster finished the season as the second leading scorer in the league, averaging 21.1 points per game. He can win a game off his own back, and has done so this season.
With 3 outings of scoring 35 points or more (the Breakers are unbeaten when this occurs), including 38 and 39 points, it is clear that the ball needs to be in Webster's hands early. If Webster gets going, good luck stopping him.
New Zealand will take plenty of confidence into the first round match-up against Melbourne after defeating them twice over the weekend, albeit in games that meant very little to United. Nonetheless, being able to close-out yesterday's game in crunch time re-enforces to New Zealand that they can handle Melbourne down the stretch of a tight game.
Who do you think will take out the NBL Championship and why?