THE Men’s SBL playoff hopes of the East Perth Eagles are now hanging by a thread following yet another heartbreaking loss on Sunday at the hands of the Cockburn Cougars at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The lone Sunday afternoon game was another cracker between the Cougars and Eagles, with Cockburn ending up prevailing 102-100 on yet another nail-biter.
A Drew Williamson triple with 58 seconds left gave East Perth a two-point lead.
But Jalen Billups levelled scores for Cockburn with 18 seconds left before converting that into a three-point play and that ended up being the pivotal play in the eventual win.
Week 15 of the Men’s SBL began on Friday night with the Perry Lakes Hawks defeating the Cockburn Cougars 94-77, the South West Slammers downing the East Perth Eagles 92-90 and the Stirling Senators beating the Rockingham Flames 66-64.
Then on Saturday night, the Geraldton Buccaneers beat the Joondalup City Wolves 92-67 and the Goldfields Giants defeated Lakeside Lightning 83-73.
The Kalamunda Eastern Suns also beat the South West Slammers 91-88, the Perth Redbacks downed the Mandurah Magic 95-74 and the Willetton Tigers defeated the Rockingham Flames 89-70.
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Sunday saw the crucial contest between the Cougars and Eagles with Cockburn looking to bounce back from losing to Perry Lakes on Friday to remain stable in the top eight.
East Perth, meanwhile, had to bounce back from a string of narrow losses to remain in the top eight hunt setting the scene for a tremendous contest.
The Eagles made a flying start leading by 13 at quarter-time. But the Cougars hit back to level scores by half-time and that set up what appeared always destined to be a contest to be decided at the buzzer.
Gavin Field gave Cockburn the 98-97 lead with 1:20 left on a crucial jumper, but Williamson then answered with a three up the other end to give East Perth the two-point lead with 58 seconds remaining.
However, a turnover then from Williamson led into a Billups three-point play when he was fouled by Mason Bragg with 18 seconds left on the clock.
Cockburn then led 101-100 with East Perth calling the timeout. Williamson missed a three-point attempt with the Cougars securing the rebound. Field ended up being fouled and made 1-of-2 at the line.
East Perth still had one last opportunity with time expiring but Corey Easley couldn’t find a teammate with the in-bounds pass and the Cougars won by two points.
The win steadies the Cougars at 11-9 in sixth position while it’s yet another game the Eagles will look back on that they had their chances to win and that could end up costing them a playoff berth.
Since beating the second placed Willetton Tigers a couple of weeks ago, the Eagles have continued to play well but lost to Perry Lakes, Joondalup and Cockburn by a combined six points.
That sees East Perth slip to a 7-13 record in 11th position but if they can string some wins together they can remain in the race for the top eight.
Billups ended the game with 26 points, 14 rebounds and four assists for Cockburn on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 at the foul line.
Field also had a big game for Cockburn with 26 points, 12 rebounds and two assists while nailing 6-of-11 from three-point territory.
Lochlan Cummings added 21 points and three assists while Seva Chan contributed 15 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals, and Rhett Della eight points and four boards.
Williamson ended the afternoon with 23 points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocked shots for the Eagles on shooting 9-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Bragg had a strong game with 23 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals while Kevin Davis contributed 16 points and 12 boards, Kevin Anthony 15 points, Joe-Alan Tupaea eight points, six assists and five rebounds.
FRIDAY NIGHT ROUND 15 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Perry Lakes Hawks 94 defeated Cockburn Cougars 77
East Perth Eagles 90 lost to South West Slammers 92
Rockingham Flames 64 lost to Stirling Senators 66
SATURDAY NIGHT ROUND 15 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Geraldton Buccaneers 92 defeated Joondalup City Wolves 67
Goldfields Giants 83 defeated Lakeside Lightning 73
South West Slammers 88 lost to Kalamunda Eastern Suns 91
Mandurah Magic 74 lost to Perth Redbacks 95
Willetton Tigers 89 defeated Rockingham Flames 70
SUNDAY ROUND 15 MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Cockburn Cougars 102 defeated East Perth Eagles 100
Photo by Mick Cronin