We're ready to go all the way on play-offs weekend, says Flyers coach Kapoulas
HEAD coach Andreas Kapoulas is backing his Bristol Academy Flyers side to make an impact in the end-of-season National Division One play-offs at the fourth time of asking.
Flyers begin their bid to land the title at the Amaechi Centre in Manchester tonight (6pm) with a semi-final against Derby Trailblazers. Kapoulas' side will be aiming to avenge the National Trophy final defeat they suffered against Trailblazers in February and reach the play-off final against either London Leopards or Leicester Warriors, who contest the other semi-final.
Flyers have made the play-offs in four of the five years they have been playing in National Division One – but their attempts to feature in the championship showdown have always been dashed at the semi-final stage.
Kapoulas, pictured, however, believes his in-form side are ready to make the next step. "We have had a very competitive season this year and I am really pleased to see us secure a place in the last weekend of the season," he said. "We led the league for most of the year and got the opportunity to play in the National Cup and Trophy Finals.
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"We have been second best in all competitions so far, but we are determined to finish the season on a high. I think we have the experience and quality to be playing in the Championship decider on Sunday."
Trailblazers crushed Flyers 87-60 in February's National Trophy final when Kapoulas' side were suffering a mid-season wobble. But the Bristol side have come out on top both times the teams met in the league and Kapoulas' players are also on a hot run of form that saw them win the last five games of the regular season to finish second in the table before completing a devastating 71-52 success over Reading Rockets in the play-off quarter-final. "Derby are a very good basketball club and, as always, they will be very dangerous opponents," said Kapoulas.
"They have already won the National Trophy at our expense this season and will be eager to try and put further silverware on their sideboard.
"They have depth, experience and scoring firepower good enough to beat anyone in the league, so we need to be at our best on the defensive end.
"We've proved we have the ability to do this during the course of the season because we have the best defensive record in the league."
Kapoulas will be hoping for key contributions from his duo of US-imports, Doug McLaughlin Williams and Davis Bowne, who have played in two of the Flyers' previous unsuccessful attempts to reach the Championship decider.
"Playing for the play-off championship in the last weekend of the season is a great feeling," said Bowne.
"It's something that we set as an aim at the start of the year and now we have an opportunity to achieve something that we have never done before."
McLaughlin-Williams added: "We have learned a lot from our previous appearances at play-off finals weekend and we feel ready as a group to perform at our best.
"We have one thing on our mind and that's nothing else other than winning the championship title."