It took until the final game of the regular season but Melbourne United have finally booked their place in the NBL semifinals with a 109-90 victory over South East Melbourne Phoenix.
United led from start to finish in Sunday's local derby at Melbourne Arena to record their 15th win of the season, earning fourth spot on percentage ahead of the Brisbane Bullets and New Zealand Breakers.
The result also locks United into a mouth-watering best-of-three semifinal series with the league-leading Sydney Kings, opening on February 29 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.
After struggling for consistency for most of the season, United roared home by winning four of the last five games to qualify for their third successive finals campaign.
Brisbane's play-off hopes rested on the Phoenix upsetting Melbourne after Saturday's 36-point demolition of Cairns saw them overtake New Zealand in fourth spot.
But United took control of the do-or-die contest from the outset, captain Chris Goulding piling on 15 points in the first quarter, then answering every challenge from the Phoenix to claim the season series 3-1 against the first-year franchise.
Goulding went on to lead all scorers with 28 points with Shawn Long (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Melo Trimble (20 points) instrumental in the victory.
Ben Madgen top-scored for the Phoenix with 23 points while Tai Wesley added 20.
With their season on the line, United came out firing with an 11-0 start as Goulding found the target twice from long distance, Melbourne's skipper going on to score 15 points in first six minutes.
United's lead blew out to 18 points at one stage but with Kyle Adnam continuing his strong play off the bench, the Phoenix reduced Melbourne's advantage to 34-24 by the close of the quarter.
The home side reduced Melbourne's lead to five in the second quarter when Wesley and Madgen each shot truly from beyond the arc but Trimble piled on nine quick points as United edged ahead 55-46 at halftime.
South East Melbourne threatened to take their first lead of the game in the third period when a pair of Madgen free throws cut the margin to three but Goulding erupted for 13 points to restore United's advantage.
Leading 81-73 after three quarters, United outscored the Phoenix 11-4 at the start of the fourth term to put the result beyond doubt.