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2018 Men’s SBL season preview
Cockburn Cougars, East Perth Eagles, Geraldton Buccaneers, Goldfields Giants, Joondalup Wolves, Kalamunda Eastern Suns, Lakeside Lightning, Mandurah Magic, MSBL News, Perry Lakes Hawks, Perth Redbacks, Rockingham Flames, SBL, South West Slammers, Stirling Senators, Willetton Tigers

2018 Men’s SBL season preview

THE Perth Redbacks broke through for a first Men’s SBL championship in 20 years last year and will be looking to make it back to back in 2018 but there are a host of teams desperate to make sure that doesn’t happen with the season shaping up to be one of the most even in history.

The 2018 Men’s SBL season gets underway this weekend and there’s plenty of intrigue right across the league as the battle for the championship begins.

Reigning champions the Redbacks are looking ominous again adding Mo Barrow and Jackson Hussey to the line-up despite losing Marshall Nelson. But Shawn Redhage is back again and Michael Vigor and Lee Roberts are expected back too.

The Joondalup Wolves have a brand new home to play out of at HBF Arena as they try to go one step better after losing the past two Grand Finals. Brian Sullivan and Jalen Billups are there to help in the quest with just about everyone else back for another crack.

It’s a similar story at the Geraldton Buccaneers with much of their core returning for another tilt under Ray Evans as coach but they’ve added Earnest Ross along with new imports Colter Lasher and Gokul Natesan.

The Willetton Tigers might have lost Ray Turner after being regular season champs last season before losing in the semi finals to the Redbacks, but they look ready to be around the mark too adding Badou Diagne and welcoming back Josh Johnson from injury.

The South West Slammers have lost coach Charles Nix and star import Tre Nichols from last year where they lost in the quarter finals to the Redbacks, but new coach Carl Catalano has plenty to work with including the additions of Justin Reynolds and Demetrius Robinson before Brian Voelkel arrives.

The Stirling Senators too are looking to take the next step under Mike Ellis with Cody Ellis back again along with new imports Robert Anshila and Justin King along with Caleb Davis.

The Cockburn Cougars couldn’t quite defend their championship last season but did push the Wolfpack to three games in the quarter finals. They have lost some experience and talent, but have signed import Brandon Sebirumbi and regained Julian Pesava from college.

The Perry Lakes Hawks also went close to knocking off the Tigers in the quarter finals last year and coach Matt Parsons looks set to have an exciting group at his disposal in 2018 adding Tyler Monroe, Dan Thomas, and Lochlan Cummings.

There are plenty of changes at the Lakeside Lightning after narrowly missing the playoffs last season. Dave Daniels is the new coach with John Isenbarger among the new arrivals while rebounding legend Jarrad Prue is also back.

The Rockingham Flames are another team looking to get back into the playoffs in Brad Samuelson’s second season as coach. No doubt the arrivals of imports Josh Ritchart and Curtis Washington along with three-time NBL championship winner Greg Hire will help in that cause.

There are plenty of changes at East Perth too with Aaron Berryman taking over as coach and Jonathan Morse on board as a new import.

It’s an all new look for the Goldfields Giants too with Scott Rubery the new coach with Jeylyn Sharpe and Kyle Sovine on board as new imports with some other impressive looking signings.

The Kalamunda Eastern Suns have shown signs of improvement the past two years and now it’s time for it all to come together for coach Michael Clarke. Their big men stocks with Kevin Davis and Louis Timms look especially impressive.

Then there is Aaron Trahair’s Mandurah Magic who are also trying to rise up from bottom spot. They have plenty of youth but the additions of Shaun Stewart, Jamal Shabazz and Chudier Pal will have a big say in how much they improve.

Round 1 of the 2018 season begins this Friday night with the Cockburn Cougars playing the East Perth Eagles, the Rockingham Flames hosting the Stirling Senators and the Perth Redbacks taking on the Lakeside Lightning.

Then on Sunday night, the first official game at HBF Arena will feature the Joondalup Wolves playing the Willetton Tigers with the Perry Lakes Hawks also taking on the Mandurah Magic, the Perth Redbacks facing Geraldton Buccaneers and the Rockingham Flames battling the Goldfields Giants.

Then on Sunday, the Stirling Senators face the Goldfields Giants, the East Perth Eagles take on the Geraldton Buccaneers and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns play the South West Slammers.

COCKBURN COUGARS
Coach: Adam Nener
Last year: 15-11 (lost quarter finals)
In: Brandon Sebirumbi (restricted), Ryan Baumgarten, Julian Pesava, Corey Frost, Troy Kelly
Out: Jalen Billups, Lochlan Cummings, Rhett Della, Dan Thomas

EAST PERTH EAGLES
Coach: Aaron Berryman
Last year: 8-18 (11th)
In: Jonathan Morse (restricted), Madison Stoveld
Out: Dennis Tawhiti, Kevin Davis, Mason Bragg, Kevin Anthony

GERALDTON BUCCANEERS
Coach: Ray Evans
Last year: 19-7 (lost semi finals)
In: Colter Lasher (restricted), Gokul Natesan (restricted), Earnest Ross, River Joseph, Liam Bennett, Tay Pirrotina
Out: Matthew Hancock, Mo Barrow, Jackson Hussey, Dwayne Benjamin

GOLDFIELDS GIANTS
Coach: Scott Rubery
Last year: 8-18 (12th)
In: Jeylyn Sharpe (restricted), Kyle Sovine (restricted), Jake Martin, Lucas Reschke, Kosta Stojanovski, Filip Glisic, Justyn Beattie, Riley Duncan
Out: JB Pillard, Atem Atem, Daniel Goodluck, Jacob Holmen, Michael Exell, Luke Pike, Miles Tierney, Russell Hurst

JOONDALUP WOLVES
Coach: Ben Ettridge
Last year: 20-6 (runner-up)
In: Brian Sullivan (restricted), Jalen Billups (restricted), Chris Clausen
Out: Ryan Wright, Wade Guerin

KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS
Coach: Michael Clarke
Last year: 7-19 (13th)
In: Kevin Davis (restricted), Louis Timms, Nathan Drown, Spencer Alone, Lachlan Staig
Out: Brighton Pass, Rob Brandenberg

LAKESIDE LIGHTNING
Coach: Dave Daniels
Last year: 12-14 (9th)
In: John Isenbarger (restricted), Ben Lee, Jarrad Prue, Nick Blight, Joshua Davey
Out: Corey Shervill, James Padgett, Devon Atkinson, Tom Parkinson, Darrell Morgan, Andrew Ferguson

MANDURAH MAGIC
Coach: Aaron Trahair
Last year: 4-22 (wooden spoon)
In: Shaun Stewart (restricted), Jamal Shabazz (restricted), Duk Makuei, Damon Moore, Chudier Pal, Frank Fimmano, Nicholas Lawrence
Out: Ryan Curtis, Will McNeill, Fletcher Klasztorny, Taylor Mullenax, Chad Simpson, Andrew Bowman, Tom Remmerswaal, Daniel Munday, Ricky Kreklow

PERRY LAKES HAWKS
Coach: Matt Parsons
Last year: 12-14 (lost quarter finals)
In: Tyler Monroe (restricted), Dan Thomas, Jack McDonald, Josh Garlepp, Lochlan Cummings
Out: Rob Waters, Matthew Adekponya, Ryan O’Sullivan

PERTH REDBACKS
Coach: Nik Lackovic
Last year: 16-10 (champions)
In: Mo Barrow (restricted), Jackson Hussey, Dylan Vilardi, Lachlan Forrest, Ethan Vlahov
Out: Geordie Murray, Diing Mawein, Jack Wagner, Riley Chappell, Marshall Nelson, Tyler Viskovich, Kyle Bowen

ROCKINGHAM FLAMES
Coach: Brad Samuelson
Last year: 11-15 (10th)
In: Josh Ritchart (restricted), Curtis Washington (restricted), Greg Hire, Kyle Beard, Byron Pearson, Thomas Ball
Out: Donovan Jack, Vinnie Zollo, Dexter Kernich-Drew

SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS
Coach: Carl Catalano
Last year: 15-11 (lost quarter finals)
In: Demetrius Robinson (restricted), Justin Reynolds (restricted), Sam Sopolinski, Matthew Leary
Out: Tre Nichols, Teny Puot,

STIRLING SENATORS
Coach: Mike Ellis
Last year: 15-11 (lost quarter finals)
In: Robert Anshila (restricted), Justin King (restricted), Caleb Davis, Jordan Deegan
Out: Rhys Vague, Drew Naymick, Jesse Dixon

WILLETTON TIGERS
Coach: Steve Black
Last year: 20-6 (lost semi finals)
In: Badou Diagne (restricted), Jake Burston, Josh Johnson
Out: Ray Turner, Nic Cody

HOW THE EXPERTS SEE IT
TRAVIS YOUNG
Perth Redbacks
Perry Lakes Hawks
Willetton Tigers
Geraldton Buccaneers
Joondalup Wolves
Goldfields Giants
Stirling Senators
Rockingham Flames

South West Slammers
Lakeside Lightning
Cockburn Cougars
Kalamunda Eastern Suns
Mandurah Magic
East Perth Eagles

Champions: Perry Lakes Hawks
Wooden spoon: East Perth Eagles
MVP: Shawn Redhage
Most Improved: Caleb Davis
What to watch for: Two things – will Perth handle the pressure going from the hunter to the hunted?
Will the new surrounds for the Wolfpack help them get back to championship contention?

MATT CECINS
Perth Redbacks
Joondalup Wolves
Perry Lakes Hawks
Geraldton Buccaneers
Willetton Tigers
Stirling Senators
Lakeside Lightning
Goldfields Giants

South West Slammers
Rockingham Flames
Cockburn Cougars
Kalamunda Eastern Suns
East Perth Eagles
Mandurah Magic

Champions: Perth Redbacks
Wooden spoon: Mandurah Magic
MVP: Former teammates Gavin Field and Jalen Billups to tie!
Most Improved: Alex Ducas
What to watch for: The tightest race ever for the playoffs and the Perth Redbacks will be the first team in 10 years to go back to back

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