WAVERLEY Falcons weren't at their best at the weekend but still set up a Big V state championship semi-final clash with Eltham Wildcats starting this Saturday.
The Falcons needed overtime to beat bottom-placed Melbourne Tigers 105-102 at Oakleigh Recreation Centre in their final regular-season game but coach Mike Bullock said he was happy to get away with the win and seal third place on the ladder.
A loss could have caused the Falcons to drop to fourth and earn a match-up with championship favourites Ringwood Hawks but instead the Hawks will face Corio Bay Stingrays.
Bullock said his side had struggled to get into the game against the lowly Tigers, who were determined to cause an upset and end their tough season on a high.
"When you play the bottom side, sometimes you can think you are going to win and not really turn up," Bullock said.
"We didn't really turn up until we got to half-time and realised we were in a real contest."
Former NBL player Yusuf Qaafow was a force for the Tigers throughout the game with a game-high 37 points on 10-14 shooting.
"Yusuf was magnificent," Bullock said.
"He was really taking our whole team on at times but I also thought Daniel
Dillon was excellent for us down the stretch with plays at both ends and on the boards."
With the Falcons looking like taking the win late in the final quarter, Qaafow made a three-pointer with 46 seconds left to bring the Tigers within two points before a back-cut from Tigers guard Andrew Morris tied the game with just seconds left.
In overtime, the Tigers again threatened and the Falcons made some veteran plays down the stretch with athletic guard Dillon's tip-dunk with 30 seconds left in the extra period giving his side the lead for good.
Dillon was the Falcons' best player with 27 points and 13 rebounds while perennial scorer Ivan Platenik added 26 points and nine rebounds.
Bullock took the coaching reins from two-time championship coach Eric Minerve five weeks ago, Minerve taking a new role as junior boys coaching director and youth league men's coach.
Bullock, a long-time Big V coach, will coach the Falcons throughout the finals but the club will look to appoint a new coach for the 2013 season.
The Falcons women played their final game yesterday with the match finishing after the Weekly went to print.