The Illawarra Hawks became the third team to cement a spot in the finals with Saturday night’s 106-79 rout of the Brisbane Bullets at WIN Entertainment Centre.
Depending on results of remaining games, the Hawks will finish either second, third or fourth with a 15-13 record.
The Bullets had little to play for and finished their comeback season to the NBL with a 10-18 record.
Illawarra led by 15 at quarter-time and doubled that by the half, with 35-year-old veteran Oscar Forman spearheading a dazzling three-point blitz.
Forman stole the show, equalling his career-high tally of eight threes in a single game and finishing with a team-high 26 points.
AJ Ogilvy (22 points, six rebounds) and Rotnei Clarke (24 points, six assists, five rebounds) also starred for the Hawks, while the irrepressible Torrey Craig played a lone hand for Brisbane with game-highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds.
Ogilvy and Craig waged a two-man battle throughout the opening five minutes, scoring 19 of the game’s first 28 points between them.
Forman instantly provided value off the bench with a triple and two free throws, as the Hawks confidently strode to a 22-12 lead.
Illawarra blazed away at 55 per cent in the first period, including 5/12 from three-point range.
Aside from Craig’s 11 points and four boards, the Bullets had little to smile about, missing 11 of 16 shots as a team and falling behind 33-18 at quarter-time.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second period and the game was soon out of reach.
Ogilvy couldn’t be stopped inside, while the Hawks’ perimeter marksmen were locked in with 6/11 threes in the quarter.
Forman nailed four of five from downtown and Clarke did a bit of everything, racking up 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in the first half.
Shooting at 59 per cent, Illawarra took a commanding 64-34 lead into half-time, tallying 15 assists with just two turnovers.
Craig was a one-man show for Brisbane with 18 points and seven boards.
Hawks coach Rob Beveridge didn’t like what he saw in the early minutes of the third period and used a time-out to give his team a stern reminder to go on with the job.
They obviously got the message, blowing the margin out to 34 at three-quarter time and allowing development player Luke Jamieson some rare quality minutes.
The Hawks will play a waiting game over the next 24 hours to learn who their semi-final opponents will be, while the Bullets are officially on holiday.
ILLAWARRA HAWKS 106 (Forman 26, Clarke 24, Ogilvy 22)
BRISBANE BULLETS 79 (Craig 30, Jervis 14, Kendle 11)