The Bendigo Braves men have done it.
They defied the odds after scraping through to the play-offs in eighth position and continue to grow in strength every second they are on the court.
"The beauty of our team is that we came together late," coach David Hogan said.
"It was always going to take time for us to get to where we are, but now we're clicking on all cylinders and hopefully we can continue to do it for one more week."
The Braves men finished the regular season with an 11-9 record, just making it into finals.
"I couldn't be prouder of the team," Hogan said.
"We were probably the only ones who rated ourselves going into finals along with those who knew our team well and our supporters.
"Everyone had written us off and we're proud to have proved them wrong."
After the 18-point win over the Frankston Blues in last Saturday's preliminary final, American import Deonte Burton believed the team was stronger than ever before.
"The team feels and is doing really well, we're gelling together," Burton said.
"That bonding chemistry throughout the season is terrific.
"We've had ups and downs throughout the season which has challenged us as a team but it's made us even better for finals."
Fellow teammate Mathiang Muo also shared the same sentiment, backed up by the win over the Blues.
"I'm very happy with how the game went and to make it into finals," Muo said.
"We went out there and executed our game-plan no matter what happened, no matter how loud their crowd was, no matter how many runs they made.
Despite the Braves leading for most of the game, the Blues did not take the pressure off at any stage of the match.
"It was very hard, but we believed in ourselves and our system. We prepared ourselves and were ready for it," Muo said.
Muo enjoyed the physicality of game which allowed the players to "do what we do".
"Basketball is a physical sport and referees let it go and let us players play," Muo said.
"But if referees try and control the game it can be hard for players to do what they do defensively and offensively."
Embracing the Blues' crowd
The Bendigo Braves knew that one thing was for sure ahead of their recent preliminary final match.
That the Frankston Blues' home crowd was loud and proud.
But instead of worrying about it, they embraced it, especially Mathiang Muo.
"They were energetic and talking a lot, but we've played in the tough moments before so we relished it and had some fun," Muo said.
"No fear, no nerves go out there and have fun, even if we had lost."
The Braves men had anticipated the loyal support from the Blues' crowd during their 18-point preliminary final victory, that it was even a key talking point before the game.
Braves coach David Hogan said they used the energy from the crowd to their advantage.
"We spoke about it in the locker room before the game, the environment is what you make it," Hogan said.
"Frankston came out of the block really fast with their strong home crowd and were able to rally in the second quarter.
"But instead of letting them use the crowd to their advantage, we did.
"Especially Mathiang he loves it, he played up to their crowd and it got him going."
During the game Muo scored 25 points, with seven rebounds and two assists.
Muo was a late-comer to the Braves, arriving a few rounds into the season.
He came to the team well experienced, having played with the 2018 SEABL Championship winning Hobart Chargers.
Since joining the Braves he has become a regular in the team's starting five and an integral player to the squad.
Need to get to the grand final?
The Bendigo Braves are calling on all of the club's fans to get behind the men this weekend in their quest for championship glory over the Nunawading Spectres.
The game will be played at the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South, but not to worry, the Braves have got you covered.
There will be a dedicated supporter bus that will depart for an 8pm tip-off from the Bendigo Stadium at approximately 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon, and will return post-match at around 12am.
"It would be incredible to have 200 supporters behind the Braves' bench on Saturday night," Bendigo Stadium's elite teams coordinator Charlton Hindle said.
"Supporters are the lifeblood of our teams and if you've ever been to one of our games, they get loud and proud and always help get them over the line."
The supporters bus costs $10 per person and bookings are essential via the Bendigo Stadium on 5440 6200 during business hours by no later than 5pm on Wednesday to secure a seat.
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