Five teams still remain in the race for the last two spots in the four to qualify for the NBL finals for the 2012-13 season that begin in just three weeks time.
Only New Zealand, Perth and Adelaide aren’t fighting over third and fourth position with the Breakers and Wildcats secure in the top-two spots, and the 36ers stuck on the bottom of the ladder once again.
However, the race for third and fourth continues to be hot between the Melbourne Tigers (10-13), Wollongong Hawks (11-15), Sydney Kings (11-15), Cairns Taipans (10-15) and Townsville Crocodiles (9-16).
The Taipans and Crocs might be the outsiders to sneak in, but both North Queensland teams can still get to 12 wins for the season and that could be enough to make the finals, just.
On Saturday night, the Crocs held on to beat the Hawks 69-64 at The Swamp while the Taipans also just managed to cling to a 70-69 win in Adelaide over the Sixers.
To remain any chance of making the finals from here, Townsville must beat Melbourne (twice) and Sydney in its last three games of the season with Cairns needing to win against Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne to sneak in.
Either Sydney or Wollongong will bow out of the race next week in a NSW derby at the WIN Entertainment Centre, meaning that the Crocs and Taipans have the chance to also bundle out the Tigers over the last fortnight. They will need to do so if they hope to play finals.
However you look at it, the last two weeks of the regular season are going to be thrilling with five teams battling over the last two finals spots, and for the right to take on New Zealand and Perth as heavy underdogs in the semi finals.
Townsville and Wollongong played out a gritty affair on Saturday night, but it was the Crocs that made a break in the third quarter to lead 51-43 heading into the last period.
Wollongong got back within two points in the dying seconds, but a late Townsville three saw the home side win 69-64 to keep its finals hopes alive. A loss to Wollongong would have ended it and gone a long way to securing the Hawks' spot all at the same time.
Former Wollongong point guard Gary Ervin, who won the NBL MVP award with the Hawks, was the difference in the end finishing with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Crocs.
Centre Luke Nevill added 13 points, Todd Blanchfield 10 and Jacob Holmes a game-high 10 rebounds.
Adris Deleon was kept quiet for three quarters but had a big last quarter for Wollongong to finish with 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Malcolm Grant added 11 points for the Hawks, Dave Gruber 10, Tyson Demos eight and Larry Davidson eight to go with eight rebounds.
Townsville coach Paul Woolpert will continue to back his side to make the finals while there is still a mathematical chance. As for Saturday's win, he was delighted with the effort to keep Deleon quiet for the most part.
"As long as we have a fighting chance we're going to fight to win basketball games, and tonight was pretty indicative of that," Woolpert said.
"We changed our starting line-up and started Mick Cedar on him and I thought he did a fantastic job. We kept him out of the paint and when he gets into the paint he can create a lot.
"For 36 or 37 minutes we played pretty good defence, and they have some outstanding basketball players in their team who made some fantastic shots (in the fourth quarter), and they still made those shots over contested hands."
Cairns did look to have done just enough most of the night in Adelaide to hold out the 36ers, but the home side refused to go away and the game went right down to the wire with the Taipans holding on for the one-point victory.
Again a loss would have meant that the Taipans' hopes of playing in the finals was over and actually could have also livened up hope in Adelaide of avoiding another wooden spoon.
However, the Taipans got the crucial win with five players scoring in double-figures.
Imports Shane Edwards and Jamar Wilson scored 13 points apiece with Cam Tragardh adding 12, Aaron Grabau 11 and Alex Loughton 10 to go with seven rebounds.
"It keeps us alive," said elated Cairns coach Aaron Fearne.
"As I said to the guys after the game we've showed some real toughness the last 10-12 games ... I could have shot myself (if we lost). We got out of jail and they couldn't get a good shot off. Fittingly we won the game playing good D."
Adelaide fought hard all night with big man Daniel Johnson starring with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Anthony Petrie added 15 points and eight rebounds, Stephen Weigh 11 and seven, and Adam Gibson nine points and five assists.