On the eve of the South East Australian Basketball League finals, the Bendigo Braves have had some help from the very top of the basketball world to ready them for the postseason.
Coach Ben Harvey took a back seat at training on Tuesday night as Clay Moser, director of basketball strategy with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, guided the team through a session before its elimination game against the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence on Saturday.
Moser was in Bendigo with Braves legend David Johnson, who was attending the club’s 30-year championship reunion last weekend.
The pair played college basketball together at Wisconsin-Lacrosse and while they were in town Moser ran several sessions with junior Braves athletes and coaches.
It culminated in him overseeing Braves training on Tuesday night in a high-octane practice to steel them for finals action.
“To be honest I hope I don’t mess anything up for them,” he said early this week.
“They’re a good group and it’s interesting timing before finals but hopefully it can help them get the win this weekend.”
Harvey said the change-up in voice had come at exactly the right time.
“Having a different voice and some real energy is exactly what we needed, the guys responded really well and Clay was just awesome,” he said.
The boost is even more timely given given the team has lost three of its last four games heading into the postseason, defeating Frankston at home last Friday before losing to top side Nunawading on Saturday.
Despite that record and heading into the finals in seventh place, Harvey is happy with where the group is at heading into its postseason campaign.
“I’m happy with where we were last weekend, I think we have some real momentum,” he said.
“We lost to Nunawading but we were within a point with about two minutes left in that game and we played some really good basketball. And if we played the way we did against Frankston I think we’d have beaten most sides.
“I think we have some momentum and energy this week and the guys are certainly upbeat.”
The Braves have lost each of their matches against the CoE this year, both coming early in the season.
Harvey doesn’t believe it has been a matter of the way the team has approached the youthful outfit, but more a matter of execution.
“We have a lot or respect for them, they’re the best young kids in the country so we know what they can dish up,” he said.
Without home court to work with in its finals matches, the Braves will hit the road if they are to make it deep into finals.
Harvey believes they still have a long playoff push within them, but says that playing selfless, team-oriented basketball will be the deciding factor between an early exit and a continued run.
“If we can win this weekend, I wouldn’t want to have to play the Braves in the finals,” he said.
“If we play together and play selfless, that will be the difference. The last few weeks have been stressful but now we’re here and we’re ready to go.
“One thing we do know is that in finals, anything can happen.”
The Braves play the CoE in Canberra on Saturday night from 7pm.