THIS time last year Ben Harvey's career with the Bendigo Hume & Iser Braves was at the crossroads.
The veteran point guard had been told by coach Wayne Larkins that his future would be as a back-up player coming off the bench. However, Harvey had other ideas.
In true Harvey fashion he backed his own ability and continued to work hard on his game.
The result - arguably his best season with the Braves and the prospect of a fourth SEABL title on Saturday night when the Braves battle Kilsyth in the south conference grand final.
"I've been really happy with the way I've played, but at the same time we have a much stronger team this year," Harvey said.
"This is clearly the best Bendigo team I've played in.
''I think the way the team is structured suits my game as well.
‘‘It's been a great season so far, but we just have to make sure we can win one more." Harvey, who has previously tasted championship success with North West Tasmania in 1996 and Hobart in 1998 and 2000, said the Braves have what it takes to win the title.
‘‘It's been a long time in between drinks for me," Harvey said.
‘‘I'd love to win a title in Bendigo.'‘ Bendigo is my home now . . . I've been here five years now and I've settled down and got married (to Kirsty) and we have a beautiful daugher (Lily Grace).
‘‘There's so many people who have put a lot of time into Bendigo basketball, so it would be great to win a championship for those loyal people." In Saturday night's grand final Harvey will lock horns with long-time rival Mick Wheeler.
The Kilsyth point guard and Harvey have gone head-to-head for 11 years in the SEABL and their battle will be one of the highlights of the grand final. Harvey took the points in the semi-final a fortnight ago and he also claimed Wheeler's scalp the last time the duo clashed in a grand final.
That encounter was the 2000 ABA national finals in Bendigo when Harvey was named MVP as he led Hobart to a thrilling one-point victory.
‘‘Mick (Wheeler) is the engine of their group," Harvey said.
‘‘He's a very tough guy to play against.
‘‘But I believe if I can have the edge over him it will give us a big advantage." Saturday night's grand final will be Harvey's 296th SEABL game.
Even if the Braves win on Saturday night and qualify for the ABA national finals in Geelong a week later, the 30-year-old will have to wait until next year to join the 300 club.
‘‘To play 300 games has been a goal of mine," Harvey said.
‘‘My contract with the Braves finishes at the end of this year.
‘‘I certainly want to keep playing with the Braves, but I'll sit down with the club after the season is over.
‘‘First we have to concentrate on winning the championship."