Bendigo Bank Braves coach Ben Harvey has called on the expected capacity crowd to make Bendigo Stadium a house of horrors for Dandenong in Saturday night’s SEABL east conference final.
The Braves boast a formidable home record of 14 wins from 15 games this season and will set out to rock the Rangers early in Saturday night’s clash.
“We can’t wait for it to happen, we’ve really got to make it happen and get the crowd involved early,” Harvey said.
The Braves stand on the verge of a third conference title in four seasons and a shot at a first SEABL championship since 2005 next weekend.
“You set your season up with short-term goals and long-term goals, we’ve achieved all those, but what it comes down to now is a grand final at home,” Harvey said.
“This is the position we want to be in, we’re excited, we’re ready to execute.”
The Braves hope their team-first ethos and experience could be the difference in this play-off.
Cool heads prevailed when the pressure piled on after a nightmare 1-4 start to the season.
Instead of hitting the panic button, the Braves rocketed to the top of the east conference ladder on the back of a 16-game winning streak.
It’s been no easy journey to reach the season’s climactic stages, but the coach and many of the players have seen it all before.
Captain Chris Hogan will become just the third Braves player to reach the 300-game milestone on Saturday nightt, while Taylor Bell marks his 250th match.
Vice-captain Kevin Probert is nearing the 200-game landmark and Tom Garlepp is an established NBL forward.
Then there’s the imports.
Jazz Ferguson blazed the way for Albury-Wodonga’s shock SEABL championship last year and Ivan McFarlin has played in leagues all over the world.
Matt Bartlett, Josh Garlepp and Chris Adkins will provide spark off the bench.
“I feel that we’ve got the better team, but we need to execute well,” Harvey said.
“I’m really looking for the bench to make an impact.
“It’s an exciting time and it’s my job to make sure we go through the highs and lows and set the tempo.
“We’re very focused and experienced and I’m expecting a big game from our group.”
Dandenong’s record on the road is 50-50 in 2013.
But the Rangers have burst into SEABL championship calculations in recent weeks.
Daequon Montreal has lit up the floor and is averaging almost 29 points in his past five games.
The Rangers are averaging almost 100 points a game in the past three weeks.
Bendigo beat Dandenong 92-77 at home in round 10, but were torched by Montreal’s 27 points in a 100-95 loss on the road in round 16.
“The writing’s on the wall there. There’s no doubt we want to keep them under 80 points,” Harvey said.
“They’ve got guys that can score really well and showed that against Geelong last week (92-74).
“We need to play good defence, but we need to dictate the tempo at both ends of the floor
“I feel we’ve got the team to do that. The guys know their roles, we’ve just got to play them well.”
Tip-off is at 8pm.