After a shaky start to the season, the Gunners Academy are Semi-Final bound!

The Academy will face off against Illawarra in the semi, a side the team has already defeated this season. After defeating Hills in a Quarter-Final two weeks ago, the team will be well rested and will be looking to take advantage of Illawarra’s tired legs after they had a tough one point win over Sutherland last weekend.

In his second year of coaching the side, Head Coach Sam Adams says he has been impressed by how well the team has come together this season and that the players hard work and dedication to the program has made their finals appearance that much sweeter.

“Our expectations are to compete for every minute and every quarter of the finals and really show what Canberra basketball is doing,” said Adams. “It would be really awesome [to win the Grand-Final] and it would be a credit to how hard the boys have worked this year but also how far the program has come.”

Headed into this weeks clash against Illawarra, Adams says the team will be relying on their strong defence and tough playing style to get them over the line.

“I think in finals you need a really strong defence and match the intensity of the opposition,” Adams said. “I think if we can ride the storm of the other teams a little bit and keep them to around 60-70 points, our offence will take care of itself.”

The team will be without John Mapiou who has started his college journey at the New Mexico Military Institute but with shooters Will Mayfield, Dhal Fieg and Akech Mayom all in fine form, the team should have no problems going up against Illawarra.

“We have a great team, a great coach and some great people surrounding us and I think we can take on almost anybody,” said Mayfield. “We have proven that after beating Sutherland twice this season who were meant to be the top team. Whatever comes up, we’ve got them.”

Mayfield has had an outstanding season with the Academy this season, averaging 26 points per game and making the Division 1 Men’s All-Star Five team alongside Academy teammate Dhal Fieg.

“Our physicality, full court defence and our outside shooting [are our strengths],” said Mayfield. “We can easily get in the lanes on about anybody and just kick it out and we’re surrounded by great shooters like Dhal, Archer, Ronan and Akech who can step out for three.”

“We have players who have many different talents and it is hard to stop all of us at the same time,” he added. “I’m looking forward to what the finals will bring because there are not too many teams who can stop all five of us at one time.”

NSW Waratah League Semi-Finals

Canberra Gunners Academy v Illawarra – 1pm at Niagara Park Stadium

Canberra Nationals v Norths – 3pm at Breakers Indoor Sports Stadium