Ipswich shoots for finals double
IT IS crunch time for the Ipswich Force men as they have everything to play for in tonight's Queensland Basketball League clash at the Gold Coast.
A victory will secure the Force men a spot in next weekend's playoffs along with Ipswich's high-flying women.
A loss will leave Force reflecting on a season where they have made great strides but not quite reached their potential.
"At least we've got the opportunity to control our own destiny,'' Force head coach Chris Riches said.
"The boys have really worked hard to turn things around from early on in mid-season to then finish strong and have a situation where they have won a lot more games than some people would have given them credit for.''
Heading into tonight's final regular season game, Force are in eighth place with eight wins and nine losses.
However, a number of games this weekend can impact on the make-up of the top eight playoff series.
The Force men only beat 10th placed Gold Coast 80-79 in a thriller at Llewellyn Stadium on July 14.
"We weren't happy with our overall performance in that game,'' Riches said.
"For us, it's more about our game than anything.''
But after losing 96-68 to Mackay last weekend, Force rebounded strongly on their road trip to overpower Rockhampton 106-84 to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Riches said it was a tough challenge playing a Friday night game after backing up from consecutive doubleheaders. "It does affect your ability to be able to train,'' he said.
However, he is confident his players have focused on their own games this week and how they can contribute best to the team's growing quality.
"There's always a bit of a lag there when you bring in new guys and refocusing that culture that you've got,'' he said.
"As well as players all having significantly different roles to what they've previously had.
"This year is really about just having that good foundation, focusing on the positive things that we want to see in the program moving forward.''
However, before looking ahead, the Force men have this year's mission to complete.
"If we win, we're definitely in eighth or seventh,'' Riches said.
"There's about five or six games this weekend that will have an impact on those final standings.
"I would have liked to have cemented that (a finals spot) before the end of the season but very happy with how the boys have been performing.
"They've shown a lot of character at a number of different stages throughout the year.''
QBL tonight (6pm and 8pm): Ipswich Force men and women v Gold Coast Rollers at Gold Coast Sport and Leisure Centre.