There’s certainly an advantage in finishing second, you will get to have a home court advantage for that first final.Andrew Osborn
THE Bathurst Goldminers’ bid for a top-two finish in its Youth Men’s division two pool will face a stern test this weekend with five players missing for a tough double-header.
The structure of the Basketball NSW competition sees the 14 teams divided into two pools, with the top three in each of those to contest the finals.
With three games remaining the Goldminers are in position to advance, but coach Andrew Osborn would love to rank second and earn a home court advantage in the first week of finals.
To do that, he is aiming to beat Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Spiders in the first half of this weekend’s double-header on Saturday before bettering Sydney Comets on July 29.
The other game, against competition front runners Newcastle Hunters, is one Osborn knows his side will be hard pressed to win.
“If we can beat Hornsby we’ll be right, that’s my focus, with Newcastle we will take what we can get,” Osborn said.
“It could get a little bit tricky if we lose both games this weekend, but if we can beat Hornsby and win our last game against Sydney Comets … that should be enough for us to finish second depending how Moss Vale go in their games.
“There’s certainly an advantage in finishing second, you will get to have a home court advantage for that first final.”
Beating Hornsby will take a big effort from the Goldminers given five players will be missing – talented guard Will Cranston-Lown, leading scorer Matt Gray, tall Blake Schaefer, New South Wales Country representative Zac Simons and the athletic Majok Deng.
“It hurts missing those guys, that is what killed us last week against Manly, their bigs,” Osborn said.
“We did everything possible, but when you’re giving away three, four, five centimetres to every player it makes it hard.
“We’re going to be up against it, but we had a good run at training on Wednesday night.
“We looked at tidying up our offence and defence because they [Hornsby] have one good tall and a very good outside three-point shooter, so we worked on making sure we can shut him down as well.
“Hopefully we can control our defensive boards, which is something we were not able to do against Manly at crucial times.”
While the Goldminers seek an improvement from the Manly match, Hornsby is on a two-game winning streak and Newcastle has only lost twice in 16 games.
Osborn will be looking to young talent Harry Betts, who he said is “coming along in leaps and bounds and just getting better and better”, to use his size well this weekend, while Tom Craft and Nathan Germech also help in the height stakes.
“We will certainly give it our best shot on Saturday and if we get up on Saturday, on Sunday we’ll just do our best against a very, very good side,” the coach said.
“Newcastle, they’re the form side at the moment.
“We will be at home which helps, hopefully we can get a good crowd, and I hope it’s freezing, the colder the better.”
The Bathurst Goldminers will take on Hornsby from 5pm on Saturday and while tip-off in Sunday’s game against Newcastle is at noon. Both will be played at the Bathurst Indoor Stadium.