A BALANCED offence and a smothering defence have enabled Bendigo Braves to book a spot in the SEABL east conference grand final.
The Braves, led by a game-high 33 points from gun import Jeremy Kendle, defeated Brisbane Spartans 83-60 in Sunday night's conference semi-final at Bendigo Stadium.
Kendle also contributed eight rebounds and five assists in another high calibre effort from the former standout from Bellarmine University, who is a leading contender for league most valuable player honours.
The Braves stamped their dominance early in the contest and outscored the Spartans 21-11 in the opening quarter.
Excellent shooting from Kendle and classy point guard Kevin White were features of the bright opening.
The Braves restricted the CJ Bruton led Spartans to 15 in the second term and added 23 points of their own to build a commanding lead.
They conceded only 34 more points for the game to cap a masterful defensive effort that won high praise form coach Ben Harvey.
"We pushed them out of their offence, we got 42 stops for the game and kept them under (the season average) 76 points," Harvey said.
"We ticked all the boxes that we needed to to win a game of basketball.
"Brisbane were second for a reason, their performance didn't really reflect how they've played this season.
“But that was one of our best performances this season, to keep a team to 60 points is amazing.”
The Braves got solid performances across the board from all 11 players who suited up.
Skipper Chris Hogan sunk 12 points, including four three-pointers, and contributed nine rebounds, White scored 10 points and had six apiece in assists and rebounds, while the bench contributed 16 points, including a combined 10 from Taylor Bell and Jake Cowling.
Pleasing for Harvey was that his bench played key roles at important moments in the game.
The Braves will play either Brisbane or Nunawading in the conference grand final, after the Spectres upset Dandenong Rangers in Sunday's other semi-final.
Simon Conn led the Spectres with 29 points.
The east conference grand final winner will play the south conference premiers in the national grand final next month.
Mount Gambier has booked a conference grand final berth and will meet either Hobart or Albury-Wodonga.
While a national championship remains the aim, Harvey said his side was looking no further ahead than the conference grand final in two weeks' time.