Playoffs history against Otago

Brent Matehaere
Brent Matehaere
Number seven is lucky, right?

The Otago Nuggets will certainly be hoping so.

The franchise has had a lean run in the playoffs.

It has reached the playoffs six times but has never reached the final.

Tonight it will look to change that.

It plays the Canterbury Rams at 5.30pm for a place in the NBL Showdown final in Auckland.

That follows a big win on Tuesday over the Manawatu Jets, as the Nuggets confirmed themselves as the top seed in this year’s competition.

The team’s last semifinal appearance may still cause a few painful memories.

It held a four-point lead over the Nelson Giants heading into the final quarter in 2013.

But that crumbled as it lost the final quarter 28-9.

The team missed the playoffs a year later and withdrew from the league at the end of the season — making for a lengthy wait to vanquish those ghosts.

Throughout the 1990s the team regularly made post-season appearances. The final always proved elusive, though.

In 1991 it was beaten 104-99 by the Hutt Valley Lakers.

That came a game after Jerome Fitchett hit a buzzer beater three-pointer to beat the Nelson Giants 78-77 in the quarterfinal — generally considered the greatest moment in Nuggets’ history.

Inbounding the ball on that play was a young forward named Brent Matehaere — the same Brent Matehaere who has guided the Nuggets this season was named the league’s coach of the year on Sunday.

Quarterfinal losses in 1992 and 1994 followed, before the Nuggets finally made it back to the final four in 1995.

On that occasion they lost a three-game series 2-0 against the Hawke’s Bay Hawks, after beating the Canterbury Rams in the quarterfinals.

Two years later it was back in the semifinals.

A quarterfinals series win over North Harbour left it to face Auckland in the semifinals, but it was well-beaten in both games.

A lean patch followed through much of the 2000s, before a resurgence in 2013 took the team to the brink of the championship game.

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