There will be a lot at stake for Shaun Bruce and the Adelaide 36ers on Friday night when they take on the NBL’s ladder leading Perth Wildcats in the last game of the regular season.
A win for the 36ers would guarantee themselves a spot in the NBL finals, but a loss would open the door for the Brisbane Bullets who are just one game behind in fifth place.
After slipping to a 5-8 record to start the season, the 36ers have had a resurgence in the second half of the season and have put themselves back into finals contention.
Bruce said it was an exciting time for the club, and he hoped they could book themselves a finals spot away from home against the Wildcats.
“The last month for us just about every week it’s felt like a huge match,” Bruce said.
“But there has been no bigger game than knowing if you win you’re going to make finals. There’s a lot at stake.
“Perth will be playing to stay in first place on the ladder as well so there is a lot to play for for both teams.”
Bruce has been playing some excellent basketball off the bench for the 36ers since being signed to the club mid-season to cover for injured American import Ramone Moore.
Bruce has been providing a ball-handling option off the bench and a lot of energy, peaking with a nine-point performance in 18 minutes against the Cairns Taipans a fortnight ago.
Bruce said it had been difficult to adapt to a new club mid-season, but he was enjoying being back in Australia's top basketball league.
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind getting acclimatised to a new team and getting comfortable but it's something that I've learnt a lot from," Bruce said.
"It's definitely a challenge, but I'm feeling better each week and it's been good to be able to contribute."
Ramone Moore returned from his injury earlier than expected against New Zealand last week, but an injury to fellow 36ers guard Adam Doyle has kept Bruce in the rotation.
"The fact that I've still got an opportunity since Ramone has returned has been nice," Bruce said.
"We'll see what the plans are for me going forward when Adam returns, but I'll just keep working hard to contribute."
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As for the contest on Friday night, Bruce said he was determined to make an impact off the bench.
“Playing in limited minutes you can really only focus on bringing some energy and playing good defence," he said.
"It's about taking the opportunities as they come and doing whatever the team needs, to keep momentum going or changing it if it's not going our way."