PERRY Lakes Hawks coach Matt Parsons is urging Lochlan Cummings and Dan Thomas to embrace the occasion against their old Cockburn Cougars team as part of the Easter Thursday Men’s SBL action.
Round 3 of the Men’s SBL sees all six matches taking place on Thursday night while the Geraldton Buccaneers and Goldfields Giants have the weekend off for Easter.
The other six teams all lock horns in the Thursday night action which sees the Perry Lakes Hawks play the Cockburn Cougars, the Stirling Senators face the Lakeside Lightning, the Mandurah Magic host the Rockingham Flames, the Joondalup Wolves battle the Perth Redbacks, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns play the East Perth Eagles, and the Willetton Tigers host the South West Slammers.
All six of the Thursday night games tip-off from 8.30pm before the 12 teams have the rest of the long weekend off for Easter.
HBF Arena will host a cracking contest in a Grand Final rematch as the Wolves try to get a measure of revenge on the Redbacks on their new home floor.
The Wolfpack have started the season impressively with wins against the Willetton Tigers and Kalamunda Eastern Suns, while the Redbacks are 3-0 in their championship defence having beaten the Lakeside Lightning, Geraldton Buccaneers and Suns as well.
But this will be the first game for the Redbacks without Alex Loughton for the season with Lee Roberts and Michael Vigor still yet to arrive.
The Magic then play their first home game of 2018 at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre when they host the Flames in a battle of the Peel rivals.
Mandurah is coming off a good road win to the South West Slammers last Saturday night while Rockingham have beaten the Goldfields Giants, but losing to the Stirling Senators and Geraldton Buccaneers.
The Suns then return home to host the Eagles at Ray Owen Sports Centre with both teams needing a win.
Kalamunda was impressive in its season-opener beating the Slammers but they found the going tougher last week with hefty losses to the Redbacks and Wolves.
East Perth won its season-opener too against Cockburn, but have lost since to Geraldton and Perry Lakes despite the best efforts of import Jonathan Morse.
Stirling also host Lakeside at Warwick Stadium in another fascinating contest.
The Senators have so far beaten the Flames, Giants and Tigers to open the new season with new import Justin King taking out Player of the Week honours twice already.
Lakeside got its first win on the board last Saturday night against Perry Lakes on the back of an impressive back court performance from Mason Bragg, Matt Vinci and John Isenbarger, while Jarrad Prue was at his remarkable rebounding best with 22 boards for the night.
The last contest of the night could very well be the most fascinating as Perry Lakes hosts Cockburn at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The Hawks will again be without import Tyler Monroe whose season is in jeopardy through injury. They still started the season with wins against Mandurah and East Perth, before losing last Saturday night away to Lakeside.
The Cougars did win on the road in Kalgoorlie last Saturday night by 22 points over the Goldfields Giants after an opening night home loss to East Perth.
Of most interest going into the clash is that ex-Cougars Dan Thomas and Lochlan Cummings will be lining up against their old side for the first time since joining Perry Lakes, and Cockburn’s 2016 championship winning coach Matt Parsons for the first time.
Thomas was part of that title winning team as well in 2016 while Cummings had a standout 2017 season with the Cougars.
But both decided to join Parsons at Perry Lakes this season to form a large part of his back court setting up a tantalising battle this Thursday night.
Parsons knows what it’s like to come up against your old side and hopes both players embrace the challenge.
“I really hope they look forward to the experience and it is something you don’t get the opportunity to do that often. And when you do and it means something to you, there is an emotional aspect to it,” Parsons said.
“Both of those guys will need to be able to put that aside and take away from the game what is more important, and that’s the team result. But I do encourage both of them to have that chip on their shoulder going into the game and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”
It might not quite be as emotional as this time last year when Parsons’ first game against the Cougars was the same night of their banner unfurling at Wally Hagan Stadium.
But he still expects the emotions to be there for Thomas and Cummings, which he sees as a good thing.
“It was pretty emotional for me going back to Cockburn going back to last year, it was a huge night. I was very fortunate to have had it that night but it is very distracting at the same time after the relationships I had built with the players and people down at the club,” Parsons said.
“There probably isn’t much for those guys to now focus on other than trying to win the game and let the emotion be there, but make sure we keep ticking the boxes of our on-court system. It should be good and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we get a win for them.”
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 3
Perry Lakes Hawks v Cockburn Cougars – Bendat Basketball Centre 8.30pm
Joondalup Wolves v Perth Redbacks – HBF Arena 8.30pm
Mandurah Magic v Rockingham Flames – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v East Perth Eagles – Ray Owen Sports Centre 8.30pm
Stirling Senators v Lakeside Lightning – Warwick Stadium 8.30pm
Willetton Tigers v South West Slammers – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8.30pm