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Grand Final countdown - Your 2017 Falcons

Ahead of this weekend's Game 1 of the State Championship Men's Grand Final between Waverley and Ringwood, we're putting the spotlight on the big event with a series of feature stories. Check back each day for a new gem and we get excited for the weekend! Remember to get down to the Falcons Nest this Sunday, August 27 at 2pm for the big game.

Yesterday we remembered back to the 2010 Grand Final series between the Falcons and the Hawks, but that Grand Final, much like that article, is in the past now. It's time to focus on the here and now with a look at the gents who make up the Falcons roster in 2017, those men who will hit the floor on Sunday for Game 1.

Heading into 2017: It was always going to be a year of change for the Falcons in 2017. The roster would, for the first time in a long time, not include the likes of Ivan Platenik and Sedale Threatt Jnr, who had both played big roles for the Falcons in previous seasons, as well as last year's captain Luke Neilson. The other big change came in the appoinment of Elias Palioyiannis as Head Coach.

With Dexter Kernich-Drew and Matt Hodgson also moving on, it was a nearly completely different starting lineup for the Falcons from the one which was eliminated by Ringwood in last season's semi-finals. Only Chris Arkell stuck around from that quintet. The Falcons set about adding new faces, including securing import Desmond Simmons and bringing former Falcons Brad Kelleher, Michael Harper, Dean Neville and Kevin Benn back into the fold. Tim Liesting and Matt Scammell moved up from the youth program, while Pat Golong returned to Waverley, where he played in junior basketball. Throw in big Tommy Boyle and the roster had nearly taken shape, save for the late addiition of former Corio Bay star Jason Reardon.

It was an interesting journey to this point from a roster composition perspective, but the Falcons ended up putting a team on the floor which was well balanced and capable of taking on the best, as evidenced by its 2-0 sweep of Knox in the semi-finals.

These guys:

Desmond Simmons: Des is a super athletic big man who can score inside and out. He was outstanding in the Knox series, putting the Raiders on the back foot with a three-point explosion, including one especially nasty step back. Desmond played last season with Mount Gambier in the SEABL.

Chris Arkell: Arkell has been a staple of the Falcons for a number of years after moving over from Diamond Valley. With his feet set, Arkell is as good a shooter as there is in the league and can score in a number of ways.

Brad Kelleher: BK came back to the Falcons this year and reminded everyone of his explosive power. Brad is the strongest guard in the league and lightning quick, he is the only player on this season's Falcons roster with NBL experience.

Jason Reardon: Reardon came in during the early rounds this season after steering Corio Bay through a period of unprecedented success, he is an unbelievable rebounder for his size and doesn't mind pulling up and knocking down shots from anywhere on the floor.

Michael Harper: Harper had possibly the most accomplished junior career in Falcons history, making state teams and workign his way to a college gig with Hawaii. An elite defender, Harper can shut down offensive players in just about any position on the floor.

Tom Boyle: The longest serving of the current Falcons crop, Tommy was a Falcons junior before heading the US College, and coming back to take his place in the men's team. Big Tommy is a great shooter and a matchup nightmare as a 6'8" perimeter threat.

Tim Liesting: The young gun had his finest moment in the elimination final against McKinnon, making the game winning lay up as time expired. Quick and athletic, it's been a big first year as a full time men's player for Liesting.

Dean Neville: It's been a great return year for the Deville, who once had a point-rebound-block triple double in a youth league finals game. Deano is a former collegiate athlete who has shown his value at both ends of the floor. Deano is 6'9" with arms the length of the Murray River.

Matt Scammell: Scammell is a Falcons youth player who has brought is athleticism, quickness and scoring punch to the men's team this season. He is a seriously sneaky athlete, can get right up above the rim.

Pat Golong: Speaking of athletes, Pat is a dunk machine. He has won dunk contests all over the city, but he's not just a dunker, he can impact games with his speed and can be a factor off the bench.

Kevin Benn: Big Benn may have stopped ringing over in London, but the big man is back at Waverley this season, the former Championship player bringing his wealth of experiencing back to the Falcons Nest.

The guys will be ready to throw everything at Game 1 this Sunday, it's the only home gane of the series for the Falcons so get around them as they try and gain the advantage. Sunday August 27 at 2pm.

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