Ambassadors vie for prelim spot

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Ambassadors' Ryan Barber is a key player for his side in tonight’s first semifinal.
Camera IconAmbassadors' Ryan Barber is a key player for his side in tonight’s first semifinal. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Ambassadors will chase a preliminary final berth in their second consecutive appearance in the Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade finals series, which starts tonight.

Having played in the same sudden-death fixture last season, Ambassadors will tackle a new foe in the form of The Farm Athletics for a place in next Tuesday’s preliminary final.

Last season, Ambassadors were eliminated in the first semifinal by five points but they have produced another strong regular season despite the loss of young pair Kye Griffiths and Jaylen Beattie, who top scored in the final loss. Ambassadors won three of their last four games of the regular season to finish in third place, with veteran Caleb Carmen firing along with Todd Knuiman in his second season for the outfit, and young guard Ryan Barber.

Their side will have plenty of confidence after an impressive shooting display in their win over Crabs last week and before that, beating the second-placed Barking Owls.

The two encounters between Ambassadors and Farm Athletics have been shared.

Farm Athletics thumped Ambassadors, 69-45, in the opening round but in the most recent match-up, Ambassadors were 11-point victors. In their maiden finals appearance, Farm Athletics will rely on towering centre Kalin Lane for plenty of impact inside, with the Walpole-bred teenager averaging more than 13 points a game this season. Reigning premiers Knights will tackle Owls in the second semifinal for the second straight season.

Owls won the game last year but were outgunned by the speedy Knights in the grand final a week later. Knights have won 14 straight games and adding to the spice of the final, they face Owls, who are the only team to have beaten them — way back in the opening round of the season.

In just their second season, Knights will play in consecutive grand finals if they are successful tonight while Owls are out to reach a staggering 10th straight decider.

With the third-placed Raiders under-18 development squad unable to play finals under ABA rules, Flames will tackle Phoenix in the elimination first semifinal of the women’s A-grade competition tonight.

Flames' Indianna Weeden takes on Panthers' Kayla Thomas this season.
Camera IconFlames' Indianna Weeden takes on Panthers' Kayla Thomas this season. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Both Flames and Phoenix finished with two wins in the regular season but a preliminary final spot is on the line.

All eyes will be on Panthers and Magpies as they contest the second semifinal, with both teams chasing direct progress to another grand final.

The two teams played in last season’s decider, with Panthers claiming a maiden title.

Panthers won 12 games on the trot before falling to Magpies in the final round of the regular season last week, their only defeat thus far in 2018-19.

ABA A-GRADE FINALS

Men’s A-grade

Second semifinal, 6pm — Knights v Barking Owls

First semifinal, 7pm — Ambassadors v The Farm Athletics

Women’s A-grade

Second semifinal, 6pm — Panthers v Magpies

First semifinal, 7pm — Flames v Phoenix

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