IT has been a blast, but the final week of the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) is here and teams are jostling for the highest possible spot in the finals series which tips off on Tuesday week. While each of the seven teams will contest the finals series, the rewards for finishing higher – particularly in the top two – are much better. In fact, only the top two will gain a double chance, with third through to seventh all having to face off in elimination finals.
The finals series sees the qualifying final between first and second straight after the elimination final between sixth and seventh. The next day – Wednesday, July 29 – third place takes on the winner of that sixth against seventh battle, while the fourth and fifth placed teams go at it. Thursday, July 30 is the semi-finals where the winner of the qualifying final takes on the lowest elimination final winner, while the loser of the qualifying final meets the highest elimination final winner.
2020 SAL’S NBL LADDER:
Otago Nuggets (7-4)
Manawatu Jets (7-4)
Taranaki Mountainairs (7-5)
Auckland Huskies (6-5)
Franklin Bulls (6-5)
Nelson Giants (4-8)
Canterbury Rams (3-9)
Otago Nuggets hold the top spot currently and take on Auckland Huskies, Manawatu Jets and Nelson Giants in the final week. If they win all three, they will lock up top spot, but the most important is the game against the Jets with Manawatu level on wins. The Jets take on Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies as well as the Nuggets, in what is an incredibly tough final week. The other side with seven wins, but one less game in hand is Taranaki Mountainairs who face Nelson Giants and Franklin Bulls. If they win both, they stand a chance of taking top spot, but need other results to go their way. They also have the longest rest to the finals series as the only team not to play on the last day of regular season action, Saturday, July 25.
Looking at the mid-table teams just one win behind, Auckland Huskies and Franklin Bulls will hope to claim three wins and potentially leapfrog the Airs on the ladder. The Huskies have beaten the Airs twice, but have the top two teams in the Nuggets and Jets in the final week, as well as the Canterbury Rams. The Bulls face off against the Airs – in what could be a battle for a top three spot – in between clashes with the Jets and Rams.
In the bottom two spots, Neither side can realistically get too far up the ladder, but could build some momentum heading into the finals series. Nelson Giants take on the Airs and Nuggets in the last round, whilst Canterbury Rams face off against the Huskies and Bulls. As both sides have welcomed back some important players of late, the finals series is shaping up to be a big one.