NBL1 Men: A look at how the conference titles were won
Breaking down how Ipswich, Knox, West Adelaide, Geraldton, and Sutherland made it through to the men's National Finals.
North — Ipswich Force defeated Gold Coast Rollers 2-games to 1
The narrative being pushed coming into this one was Ipswich’s depth of talent advantage. After an impressive but somewhat disjointed semi-final win over Logan though, where individual shot-making appeared more of the difference than collective synergy, some doubt remained. When the pressure built against a well-organised Gold Coast, would we see Ipswich default into playing too much one-on-one offence?
The Rollers were easier to get a read on, with a floor general in Jason Cadee, a system based star in Todd Blanchfield who thrives on off-ball activity, and role players who would buy into movement. Game one fed into this system against talent conversation with questionable shot selection, a lack of movement and passing on offence, as well as poor transition defence from Ipswich. A hero by the end of game three, Deng Deng was one of the main culprits, with his love of one-on-one play being a clear negative on offence to start the series.
The Force showed signs of having learned a lesson to start game two, with Jason Ralph getting his feet in the paint early for drive and kick opportunities, as well as Jaylin Galloway eliminating some of his ball-stopping. He passed much better on the way to eight assists. Kyrin Galloway was a beneficiary, getting catch-and-shoot or easy finishing chances, whilst Nathan Sobey found more driving lanes and blew by Preston Le Gassick with ease to score in the paint. Deng’s one-on-one shot attempts almost vanished, not forcing himself on the game offensively but instead being a contributor to a rebounding reversal that would be a key to the series win.
Before Ipswich had completely turned the series around after game one, it looked like Blanchfield’s dunk on Deng may have been a moment that swung the series.
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