IN recent years the Bendigo Braves and Bendigo Lady Braves have made a habit of winning SEABL conference titles.
Conference champions sounds great, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it as SEABL national champions.
The loss to the Knox Raiders in last year’s women’s SEABL championship game still hurts the Lady Braves.
This Saturday night they face the Hobart Chargers in the women’s south conference final at Bendigo Stadium.
The winner advances to the SEABL championship game in Melbourne on September 14.
For Lady Braves coach Jonathan Goodman, it’s unfinished business.
“Conference championships are good, but the ultimate goal is the national title,’’ Goodman said.
“We’re better prepared this year than what we were last year.
“We have a better squad this year… we have every base covered.
“We have multiple ways we can defend. I think we’re in really good shape.”
Standing in front of the Lady Braves and a berth in the SEABL championship game is a Hobart side which has beaten Bendigo twice this season.
The Chargers won 79-71 in Hobart on June 27 and 79-69 in Bendigo on August 3.
The Lady Braves have improved sharply since the August 3 clash.
They were outstanding in their 83-49 semi-final win over Frankston a fortnight ago.
“Our last two performances have shown that we’re playing our best basketball at the right time,’’ Goodman said.
“Our defence has been great the past two games and that’s what we need to repeat this weekend.
“The way we’re playing now compared to earlier in the year is chalk and cheese.”
Goodman has seen first hand with the Bendigo Spirit what impact a big home crowd can have on a play-off game.
He’s hoping Bendigo basketball fans will pack the Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
“I’d love nothing more than to see the stadium full with Lady Braves fans,’’ Goodman said.
“We play an exciting brand of basketball and we have an exciting group of players.
“Hopefully, our loyal Lady Braves will all get along to the game and cheer us on.”