Defending champion Tivoli Wizards and Urban Knights drew first blood in the FLOW/National Basketball League (NBL) best-of-three semi-finals with victory over Runnin Rebels and St George's Slayers, respectively, at the National Stadium courts on Saturday.
Tivoli turned back the Rebels 79-54, while Urban Knights stopped the Slayers 68-59 in the other game.
Omar Barnes led the way for Tivoli with 17 points, followed by Troy Campbell with 14 points and Andy Smith with 12 points.
Omari Green was Runnin Rebels' top-scorer with 16 points, then Paron Brown with 10 points and eight rebounds.
In a game of two halves, the Rebels led the way in the first and second quarters, with the champions struggling to restrict the deficit.
Rebels led 15-13 after the first quarter and had the better of their counterparts to take a 35-32 lead at half-time.
But Tivoli came out a different team after the interval and scored eight unanswered points to jump into a 38-35 advantage, and they never looked back.
The Edward Marshall-coached team then proceeded to extend their advantage and were comfortable ahead 61-43 at the end of the third quarter.
The onslaught continued into the final quarter, with Tivoli holding a 20-point advantage for most of the period before settling for a 15-point win at the end.
Tivoli coach, Marshall, said his team was well prepared for the contest. "The first game is always very important and my team came out and played well.
"The first-half we weren't doing well, but the second-half we stepped up and did the job," he said.
In the opening game, Andre Murray led Urban Knights with 15 points and Tommy McDonald and Kwame Lawrence gave good support with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Howard Daley was the Slayer's top-scorer with 12 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Damion Young with 11 points and Desmond Harriott with 10 points.
The Knights lost the first quarter 16-11, but once they went in front in the second quarter, they never surrendered the lead again.
At half-time they were ahead by ten points (37-27), and although the deficit was reduced to six (52-46) at the end of the third quarter, the Knights proved to be too much and won comfortably by nine points.
Knights coach Oneil Brown said it was a well-executed game by his team.