Geraldton Buccaneers prepared for the unknown as grand final berth on the line

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Another sell-out crowd will cheer on the Buccs this Saturday.
Camera IconAnother sell-out crowd will cheer on the Buccs this Saturday. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

It’s crunch time in Saturday’s preliminary final as the Geraldton Buccaneers eagerly await the chance to win a berth in the NBL1 West grand final.

After their thrilling one-point win in the qualifying final against Willetton last weekend, the Buccs will not know who will stand between them and their second grand final appearance in a row until late on Thursday after Perry Lakes and Perth Redbacks face off in the eliminator.

Coach Dayle Joseph said they would be keeping a close eye on Thursday’s game but the team would be prepared for any opponent come Saturday.

“We’re just focused on our own stuff and our own execution of some things,” he said. “There were a couple of things from the weekend that we’d like to do a little bit (better).”

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“We worked on a bit of timing and a bit of execution on our own end.

“Thursday night, we’ll find out who we’re up against and probably pay a bit more attention to them on Saturday morning.

“One good thing is we played both teams sort of not that long ago, so some things are still pretty fresh and we’ll probably watch a review of their game straight afterwards and see if they’ve done anything different that we need to attend to and go from there.”

Dayle Joseph said the Buccs were ready for any opponent.
Camera IconDayle Joseph said the Buccs were ready for any opponent. Credit: Artic Moon Photography

Joseph said the Buccs had no preference of opponent and was impressed with how his team had handled finals pressure so far.

“I certainly don’t have any preference — sometimes games are won on the night but it doesn’t really bother us who we play,” he said.

“I was pretty impressed how we handled the game on Saturday, you know, there were a few moments there where we were put under pressure, particularly late on.

“But there was no panic or anything about the situation, which makes things a little bit easier to execute, which is what we’ve been all about for the last few weeks as well.”

Joseph also had praise for Liam Hunt, who brought up 100 games at the weekend — a considerable effort given he faced the prospect of not playing again after a horror injury in 2020.

“For Liam, that’s a pretty remarkable number for him, especially the battle he had to go through to get here, and he means a lot to the club,” Joseph said.

The Buccs also have no injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game, which sold out on Monday, with a sea of blue-and-gold expected to cheer them on in the last home game for the year.

“As a coach, I don’t notice it that much, although I did have to pause when someone made the long bomb at three-quarters, but more often than not I’m in the zone to the very end,” Joseph said.

“But I’m sure the players feel it. It does seem to lift us a little bit and, probably more importantly, it’s a little bit intimidating, maybe, for the other team.

“So we certainly have the best crowd in the league and the loudest, I think, and we’ve got to take advantage of that as well.”

The Buccs will tip off at 7pm on Saturday at Activewest Stadium.

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