EVERY game in Week 16 of the Men’s SBL has something riding on the result but none more so than Sunday’s battle for top spot between the Willetton Tigers and Geraldton Buccaneers with both having already played earlier in the weekend.
Every game across the Heritage Round has something intriguing about it and plenty riding on the result, but it’s hard to ignore Sunday’s clash between the Tigers and Buccs at Willetton Basketball Stadium that could very well end up determining the minor premiership.
There are plenty more games to look forward to starting on Friday night when the Willetton Tigers host the Kalamunda Eastern Suns. The Perry Lakes Hawks also play the Perth Redbacks and the Stirling Senators take on the East Perth Eagles.
Then on Saturday night, the Perth Redbacks battle the Cockburn Cougars, the South West Slammers host the Rockingham Flames, the Joondalup City Wolves take on the Goldfields Giants, the Mandurah Magic play the Perry Lakes Hawks and the East Perth Eagles face the Geraldton Buccaneers.
There’s two other big games on Sunday on top of the Tigers-Buccs clash with the Stirling Senators facing the Goldfields Giants and the Lakeside Lightning playing the Joondalup City Wolves.
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HOLMEN NOT GIVING UP ON SUCCESS WITH THE GIANTS
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WEEK 15 SUNDAY MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Friday night begins at Bendat Basketball Centre in Heritage Round with the Hawks hosting the Redbacks with Perry Lakes trying to hold onto eighth spot, and Perth onto fourth.
That leaves plenty at stake for both clubs as they begin challenging double-headers this weekend.
For the first time in 2017, the Hawks are on a winning streak having won their last two matches over the Wolves and Cougars which has seen them improve to an 8-10 record in eighth spot. But if they don’t keep winning they will dip back out of the top eight.
The Redbacks have consolidated their fourth position for now on the back of solid wins lately over Lakeside, Stirling and Mandurah, but now two wins this weekend are what they need to ensure they stay safe in fourth and put pressure on the Wolves in third.
Perry Lakes did win the game earlier this season between the two teams winning by five points at Belmont Oasis to ease some pressure at that time.
The Senators and Eagles both enter Friday’s clash at Warwick Stadium struggling for form with Stirling just clinging to a spot in the top eight and East Perth only just remaining in playoff contention.
Stirling did bounce back to the winner’s list last Friday with a two-point win in a low-scoring affair over Rockingham. But it didn’t matter how it came, the Senators desperately needed the win and it kept them inside the top eight at 9-9.
They do need to string wins together to avoid ending Week 16 outside of the top eight though.
East Perth remains supremely competitive and its last four games have been impressive. It started with a win over Willetton but the Eagles have lost their last three matches all in nail-biters.
Their defeats to Joondalup, South West and Cockburn have each been by two points but what matters is that they went into the loss column leaving them now at 7-13. With just six games remaining, they can scarcely avoid another loss if they hold out hope of making the playoffs.
Willetton begins its big double-header weekend on Friday hosting the Eastern Suns at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The Tigers do need to be mindful of not taking a Suns team lightly who have beaten the Slammers, Giants and Redbacks in recent weeks, and been competitive against the Wolves and Flames.
Willetton can’t afford a slip up or else the chance of top spot will slip away but Kalamunda will be looking to keep its good form going.
The finals might just be out of reach of the Suns from 6-15, but their past five games have been strong. Coach Michael Clarke hopes that continues Friday night on their first return to Willetton since last year’s horror 81-point Anzac Day loss.
“They’re tough. They are so solid from the guards through to the front court. We rely on turning teams over and pressuring them, and they’re not easily got to in that regard,” Clarke said.
“They really are the benchmark I suppose on what you judge the league. As long as we don’t get massacred like we did in the Anzac Day Massacre last year. I’d just like to start being competitive against these top-tier teams and then we can build on that into the future.”
Clarke is hoping to see Kalamunda continue its good recent form and to perform to expectations for a full four quarters rather than showing glimpses of what they are capable of.
“We take confidence from the win over the Redbacks and the way we played against the Wolves last time, and I’ve always said that if we play at our best and we are all doing what we need to do that we can run with any team in the league,” Clarke said.
“Our issue is the consistency of being able to do that and it’s not just from week to week, but from quarter to quarter, and even from one five-minute period to the next. If we can string together a whole game we’ll run with them all.
“With the amount of shots we get up including three-pointers, if we hit an average number of them it’s hard for teams to match. There is confidence there, but at the same time we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We know where we sit and where we come from, and we respect those teams who are in a really strong position ahead of us.”
The Redbacks back up their clash with the Hawks by then hosting the defending champion Cougars on Saturday night at Belmont Oasis.
Depending on Perth’s result on Friday, Cockburn could have the chance to move a step closer to their fourth spot with a victory. The Cougars enter the round in sixth position with an 11-9 record having won three of their past four games.
The Slammers and Flames are two clubs with just the one appearance in Week 16 and that takes place at Eaton Recreation Centre on Saturday night.
The Slammers remain in fifth position at 11-8 despite an upset defeat at the hands of the Eastern Suns last Saturday night on their home floor. They will need to bounce back on Saturday to avoid slipping further down the top eight.
The Flames, meanwhile, lost to both the Senators and Tigers last weekend having previously won seven of their last nine matches. But last week’s results saw Rockingham drop out of the top eight at 9-12 putting extra importance on beating the Slammers on Saturday night.
The Wolves are another team who needs to bounce back despite still sitting in third position.
They host the Giants at Joondalup Basketball Stadium on Saturday night needing to respond to last week’s 25-point loss in Geraldton on the back of a two-point win against East Perth and 12-point defeat to Perry Lakes.
The Wolfpack do remain third at 13-6 but their gap on the Redbacks has now shrunk and they need to string wins together to remain in that spot.
Meanwhile, the Giants remain at 6-12 in 12th spot but with eight games remaining there’s still time for them to challenge for a playoff spot but they do need to start stringing wins together and there would be no better time than this weekend.
The Magic are back at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Saturday night looking for their third win of 2017 up against the Hawks who will be desperate to win no matter their result at home to the Redbacks on Friday.
Saturday night’s action concludes with East Perth hosting Geraldton at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre. The Eagles will have already played Stirling on Friday and need to win to stay in the playoff hunt while the Buccs also need to win to stay in first place ahead of Sunday’s clash with Willetton.
Sunday begins at Warwick Stadium with the Senators hosting the Giants. Stirling need to win to maintain a spot in the top eight with Goldfields being just as desperate to win to remain in the finals race.
It’s then time for the clash that could very well determine the minor premiers for 2017 and that could give an insight into who deserves to be championship favourites right now when the Tigers host the Buccaneers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
Willetton will have already played Kalamunda on Friday and Geraldton having faced East Perth on Saturday, but come Sunday afternoon everything will be on the line as the top two teams lock horns looking to make a statement.
The round then concludes later on Sunday afternoon with the Lightning hosting the Wolves at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
It will be Lakeside lone appearance of the weekend and they need to win to improve on 8-11 to remain in the finals race while the Wolves will be coming off playing the Giants at home on Saturday night.
WEEK 16 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Perry Lakes Hawks v Perth Redbacks – Bendat Basketball Centre 8.30pm
Stirling Senators v East Perth Eagles – Warwick Stadium 8.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8.30pm
Perth Redbacks v Cockburn Cougars – Belmont Oasis 8pm
South West Slammers v Rockingham Flames – Eaton Recreation Centre 8pm
Joondalup City Wolves v Goldfields Giants – Joondalup Basketball Stadium 8pm
Mandurah Magic v Perry Lakes Hawks – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8pm
East Perth Eagles v Geraldton Buccaneers – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 8pm
Stirling Senators v Goldfields Giants – Warwick Stadium 12pm
Willetton Tigers v Geraldton Buccaneers – Willetton Basketball Stadium 12pm
Lakeside Lightning v Joondalup City Wolves – Lakeside Recreation Centre 4pm
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)