As the Country Basketball League (CBL) heads into its final round this weekend, teams will need to deliver their absolute best to lock down a chance at the title.
Six weeks since the start of the unique 2021 CBL season and here we are, one round away from the 2021 CBL Finals.
This CBL season has experienced more unexpected twists and turns than any year before. The season dates have been pushed back, the fixture was condensed and, just last weekend, the washout of a round as a result of Victoria’s COVID-19 circuit-breaker lockdown.
But despite all of this, our 2021 CBL teams have thrived in pursuit of a title like no other.
With the final round of the season set to tip-off tomorrow night across the state, here’s all you need to know about who’s through, who’s vying for a spot and who needs to win at all costs to secure a top four spot...
With only one scheduled match for Gippsland Men in Round 7, Maffra Eagles, Moe Meteors and Korumburra Wildcats can look ahead towards their Semi Finals on Saturday 27 February.
In with a chance for fourth place and entry into finals are the reigning champions Warragul Warriors who will come up against Lakes Entrance Pelicans this week. While Warragul hold fourth position with 10 points, the outcome of their game could shake up the ladder. Sale Sonics sit with an equal 10 points but a lower percentage, while Lakes Entrance follow on 8 points.
Simply put, to secure their finals chance, Warragul are in real need of a win. The question is – can they do it?
Unlike the Men, the finals contenders have already been decided for the Women with only five teams in the conference. Warragul, Korumburra, Moe and Maffra will compete for the 2021 title.
A Warragul and Lakes Entrance contest is also in store for the women in Gippsland this Saturday, with the outcome merely deciding how far in front Warragul finish in the home and away season. If the Warriors win, they will solidify their top-ranking going into finals. However, if Lakes Entrance prevails then it could be Korumburra who will steal those bragging rights.
The North East rivalry between Seymour Blasters and Wallan Panthers will come to a head on Saturday night in one of the most important games of the season. While Seymour’s position in finals is secure, sitting on 14 points and Myrtleford Saints close behind on 13 points, Wallan needs a Hail Mary win.
On 11 points and sitting in third, fourth and fifth place are Wangaratta, Benalla and Wodonga. This week’s game will have two alternative outcomes on the ladder:
Scenario 1 – If Wallan wins, the Panthers move to match the total points of Wangaratta, Benalla and Wodonga and the third and fourth place finals contenders will be decided on percentage.
Scenario 2 – If Wallan loses, the Panthers will be out of the running for the 2021 title and two of either Wangaratta, Benalla or Wodonga will progress through to Semi Finals.
This is going to be a result to watch out for.
No games are scheduled for North East Women in Round 7. Current ladder positions will put Wangaratta Warriors (12 points), Wallan Panthers (12 points), Seymour Blasters (11 points) and Wodonga Lady Wolves (10 points) through to the finals.
Sitting at the top of the table in North West Men are our CBL 2020/21 Grand Final competitors, Maryborough Blazers and Bendigo Braves. These two have a history and we expect Maryborough will possess a certain hunger and drive in its game against Castlemaine on the weekend, looking to prove itself at the top of the ladder heading into finals.
Although Castlemaine can’t make finals even with a win against Blazers, the Cannons have the power to determine who will finish first in the home and away season between Maryborough and Bendigo.
No matter the result of their Round 7 game, Kyneton Tigers and Echuca Pirates will stay alive in the North East Men’s and head on towards the finals next week.
No games are scheduled for North West Women in Round 7. Current positions on the ladder have Bendigo Braves (12 points), Kyneton Tigers (11 points), Maryborough Blazers (11 points) and Mildura Heat (11 points) progressing through to 2021 CBL finals.
In the South West, Portland’s consistency across the season sees the team coast straight through to finals and finish the home and away rounds with a bye.
Warrnambool, Colac, Ararat and Terang will battle it out for the remaining three tickets to finals. All teams need to take home the chocolates to hold onto their 2021 title hopes. Ararat should sneak through even if the side endures a loss, however the outcome for this conference will be something to keep a close eye on.
CBL Semi Finals will be played on the night of Saturday 27 February with venues to be confirmed and Grand Final games will take place on Saturday 6 March.