The Mainland Tactix have kept their ANZ Premiership playoff hopes alive — but they will need a miracle.
A 53-48 victory over the Northern Stars in Invercargill today has put the Tactix nine points behind the Stars with three games remaining. With three points on offer for a win, three consecutive victories — coupled with two pointless defeats for the Stars — will put them level on points at the end of the regular season.
A daunting task, for sure, made tougher by the fact the Tactix would also need an incredible turnaround on goal percentage.
Sporting a goal percentage of 84.8 per cent, the Tactix would need a 90-goal turnaround on the Stars' 98.3 per cent mark, meaning they'd need two hefty Stars defeats, coupled with unprecedented margins of victory in their final three games.
A near-impossible equation, but one that could have been so much simpler had they taken more urgency in the final seconds today. Up by five with time running out, the Tactix took their sweet time getting the ball into the circle, and while Ellie Bird's shot — which would have denied the Stars a bonus point — went in, it was after the final hooter.
Now, the Tactix are left with a herculean task to make the top three, but at least they have a chance, something the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic can't claim after their hopes were ended at the hands of the dominant Central Pulse.
The unbeaten Pulse won their 12th straight game with a 53-45 triumph, though they were made to work harder than in recent clashes.
With a top-of-the-table showdown against the Southern Steel tomrrow, the Pulse rotated players throughout the match and recovered from several patchy periods to take control.
The Pulse scored seven straight goals midway through the first stanza to gain the upper hand, with slick attacking play combining with the exploits of their impressive defensive unit.
Led by the stellar defensive pairing of Kelly Jury and Casey Kopua, the Magic dragged themselves back level in the final quarter but the Pulse ended the game on a 12-5 run to seal yet another victory.
They continue to hold a seven-point lead over the Steel at the top of the table, after the Steel accounted for the Northern Mystics 69-58.
In the contest for the first three quarters, a flurry of turnovers to open the final stanza sunk the Mystics' hopes. Holding a three-goal lead going into the final period, the Steel were quick to take advantage, putting their foot down in style to score nine goals on the trot and push out to a 12-goal lead.
South African shooter Lenize Potgieter was a star for the Steel, sinking 43 of 44 attempts in the victory, while the Steel also made sure to rest players ahead of tonight's crucial clash.
A win for the Steel would give them an outside chance of claiming top spot, while the Pulse can clinch an automatic spot in the grand final with victory.