Force men aiming to achieve something special for Ipswich
THE Ipswich Force men will adopt their successful "we work harder'' approach when they strive to achieve a rare feat for the city on Friday night.
Ipswich's top basketball team is one victory away from securing a Queensland State League (QSL) grand final spot - a goal denied for many years by more cashed-up, import-bolstered sides.
This year's focused and hardworking team is on target to fulfil that mission.
"It would be something special for all the guys,'' head coach Chris Riches said, preparing for Friday night's livestreamed QSL semi-final against the Brisbane Capitals at JBS Stadium.
"They won't remember the last time we were in a semi-final let alone making it through to that next step.
"It's great for the sport regardless of what ends up happening.
"A place like Ipswich sitting in the second spot on the table is something that doesn't happy very often in the men's side of the draw.
"It's a welcome opportunity for us to gain some confidence and just start to develop those nerves of steel now and really push it home.''
Ipswich heads into the semi-final on their home court with nine wins and two losses. Force are the only team to have beaten competition leaders RedCity Roar who play Sunshine Coast Phoenix in the other semi-final.
Riches said Ipswich's strength this season had been challenging themselves to do something extra each game.
"Winning the number of games that we have in a row has been quite good for us in the sense of having to refocus each and every week,'' Riches said.
"For us, we like to think that we have to work a little bit harder than everyone else.
"With the guys we've got and the mentality that we have, we just see it as every single game we come into, it is another fight to the death.
"It's a situation where we've just got to keep pushing ourselves that little bit further and that little bit harder than everyone else to get that win.
"That's kind of our culture.''
The winner of Friday night's 7pm match advances to Sunday's grand final.
The Ipswich Force women also contest their semi-final on Friday night, against Logan Thunder at 8pm.
Both semi-finals featuring the Ipswich teams will be livestreamed on Friday night on this QT website.
Riches said his team appreciated an extra week to freshen up after beating RedCity Roar and Gold Coast Rollers in a double-header to end the 11 weeks of qualifying matches.
"It definitely did,'' Riches said.
"Not having a game (last weekend) allowed us to spend a fair bit of time just recovering.''
That was particularly important for the amateur athletes who have regular jobs around their training and playing demands.
"For a lot of the guys, it was definitely a welcome opportunity, especially at this time of the season when you setting them for a most important game,'' the coach said.
Ipswich beat Brisbane 87-86 in a season-opening thriller where Bullets recruit Nathan Sobey fired the winning shot.
Although his team has improved steadily, Riches expects the Capitals to be hellbent on revenge.
"They are a quality team,'' he said.
"They have got a number of guys that have been in the Bullets program, like Jason Cadee. He's a quality player. He's played for Australia.
"It's just going to be a grind, like all of our games are.
"We're expecting a significantly different opponent to the one we met in round one and we'll just outlast them.''
The Ipswich Force men's team: Lachlan Macgregor, Michael Fleming, Jason Ralph (captain), Jesse Ghee, Kane Bishop, Ryan Jeffries, Ethan Robinson, Nathan Sobey, Joel Rees, Alec Godinet, Mitchell Poulain. Coach: Chris Riches. Assistant coach: Scott Smith. Manager: Brooke Norgrove.
QSL Men's Division 1 semi-final: Friday (7pm) - Ipswich Force v Brisbane Capitals at JBS Stadium.
QSL Women's Division 1 semi-final: Friday (8pm) - Ipswich Force v Logan Thunder at Bendigo Bank Stadium.
Both matches being livestreamed at: qt.com.au