THE Rockingham Flames host the Perry Lakes Hawks on Friday, the South West Slammers take on the Stirling Senators on Saturday and the Joondalup City Wolves play the Geraldton Buccaneers on Sunday in just three of eight tantalising Week 18 Men’s SBL contests.
Friday night’s Week 18 Men’s SBL action sees not only Rockingham take on Perry Lakes, but the Kalamunda Eastern Suns also face the Lakeside Lightning and the Willetton Tigers play the Perth Redbacks.
Then on top of the Slammers playing the Senators on Saturday night, the Perth Redbacks host the Geraldton Buccaneers, the Lakeside Lightning face the Goldfields Giants, the Mandurah Magic play the East Perth Eagles and the Cockburn Cougars battle the Joondalup City Wolves.
Then as well as the Wolfpack hosting the Buccs on Sunday afternoon, the Perry Lakes Hawks play the Goldfields Giants.
REID KEEN TO CONTINUE GROWING WITH GIANTS
SLAMMERS STARS DELIVERING AS THEY EMERGE AS CHAMPIONSHIP THREATS
EVANS WOULD LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN DELIVERING SKIPPER A TITLE
OATMAN HOPES TO LEAD LIGHTNING’S DEVELOPMENT INTO 2018
WEEK 17 SUNDAY MEN’S SBL RESULTS
Friday night in the Men’s SBL sees the Flames battle the Hawks at Mike Barnett Sports Complex with both teams locked in a battle over a playoff berth.
It’s unlikely there will be room for both teams in the top eight for the finals highlighting the importance of Friday night’s clash.
Rockingham comes into the game in ninth spot with a 10-13 record having scored a critical two-point win over East Perth last weekend.
Perry Lakes sits eighth at 10-11 following a 21-point win in Northam over Kalamunda last Saturday. The Hawks have now won four of their past five games but are still not guaranteed of a place in the 2017 playoffs.
The two teams last met at Bendat Basketball Centre on May 20 with the Flames winning big downing the Hawks by 26 points with Justin Beard, Vinny Zollo, Donovan Jack, Dexter Kernich-Drew and Ryan Godfrey all having a significant impact.
The last game on Friday night shapes as another with plenty on the line as the league-leading Tigers host the struggling Redbacks.
Willetton remains clear on top of the Men’s SBL at 19-3 coming in off three narrow and hard fought wins over Kalamunda, Geraldton and South West.
The Tigers will remain on top if they keep winning but the Redbacks just need to find a way to bounce back because even their playoff spot is now in jeopardy heading into this weekend’s double-header against the top two ranked teams.
Perth has now lost four straight and six of the past nine to have gone from fighting for a top two position to just clinging to a top eight spot in seventh position at 12-10. They leave themselves with work to do if they don’t find a way to win this weekend firstly against the Tigers.
It’s no coincidence that the Redbacks losing run has gone hand in hand with the absence of Shawn Redhage with Michael Vigor joining him out last weekend in losses to the Wolves and Senators.
To topple the Tigers firstly this Friday night, the Redbacks either need Redhage and Vigor desperately back or they require monster showings from the likes of Lee Roberts, Ben Smith, Marshall Nelson and captain Joel Wagner.
Coming off that clash on Friday night, the Redbacks have to back up against the Buccaneers at Belmont Oasis on Saturday night.
The Buccs are coming into the contest on their first losing streak of the season having lost on the road to the Tigers and last Saturday night at home to the bottom placed Magic.
That likely has seen Geraldton lose a chance at top spot at 17-4 but a win on Saturday keeps that hope still alive. But it will be a fascinating contest between two teams who for much of 2017 have appeared genuine championship contenders.
Two teams who have been desperately clinging to a playoff hope but might now be out of the hunt clash at Lakeside Recreation Centre with the Lightning hosting the Giants.
Lakeside has lost its past four games to the Giants, Wolves, Senators and Slammers to slip to an 8-14 record and now likely needing to win all four of its remaining games to be the slightest of playoff hopes.
The Giants have lost three straight and four of their past five games to fall to a 6-15 record and even winning all five of their remaining games is unlikely be enough to break into the top eight.
The two teams only last met in Kalgoorlie three weeks ago with the Giants winning by 10 points.
With the Redbacks slide down the table, fourth position has suddenly opened wide open and the winner of Saturday’s clash at Eaton Recreation Centre between the Slammers and Senators might very well hold onto that.
The Slammers currently sit fourth with a 13-9 record having lost to the Tigers last Friday night but bounce back for a strong win on the road to the Lightning on Sunday.
The Senators are also coming off a Sunday victory against the Redbacks to improve to 13-9 and having won five straight games in impressive fashion following a challenging four-match losing slide.
The two teams met way back in Week 4 with the Senators winning by eight points at Warwick Stadium but a top four spot is up for grabs and both teams are trying to emerge as genuine championship threats.
Slammers star guard Tre Nichols is part of quite the dynamic back court with Michael Lay and Brian Voelkel who will look to push the pace against the bigger Senators.
The clash in styles should create a fascinating contest and Nichols is looking forward to it.
“It’s another big game and we’ll have to play for a full 40 minutes as always. They are a well experienced team with a couple of NBL guys and nice role players on their team,” Nichols said.
“They are a well-knit group so we’ll have to bring it for 40 minutes. They do like to slow the ball down a little bit but we have to stick with what we do by playing defence, pushing the pace and the results will speak for themselves.”
The Magic and Eagles are two teams locking horns at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with no playoffs to play for, but both will be hungry to win.
Mandurah is on its first winning streak of the season having beaten Perry Lakes at home and Geraldton on the road the past two weeks.
They might still be anchored to the bottom of the table, but the fight shown by Aaron Trahair’s team has been admirable led by veteran big Taylor Mullenax and import point guard Will McNeill.
The Eagles could very well be the hard luck story of the season having fallen from playoff contention at 7-16 with a six-game losing run. Over the course of the season, eight of their 16 losses have been by four points or fewer.
One of the Magic’s four wins this season did come on the road to the Eagles back on May 6 by 11 points.
Lastly on Saturday night, the second grand final rematch of 2017 takes place at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cougars playing the Wolves.
Cockburn comes into the contest in sixth position with a 13-9 record and looking to remain right in the hunt to still end up in the top four by season’s end.
The Wolfpack remain solid in third spot with a 16-6 record heading into this weekend’s big double-header.
The Wolves did win the first grand final rematch with the Cougars to open the season with a 104-101 victory in the opening round at Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
There are then two matches on Sunday afternoon with the Hawks hosting the Giants at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Perry Lakes do need to keep winning to avoid slipping out of the top eight while Goldfields has enough talent to be nuisance value in the run home.
The Wolves then host the Buccs at Joondalup Basketball Stadium with the Wolfpack looking to maintain pressure on the Buccaneers who currently sit in second spot with both top three teams coming off two big games on Saturday night as well.
WEEK 18 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Rockingham Flames v Perry Lakes Hawks – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 8.30pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Lakeside Lightning – Ray Owen Sports Centre 8.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Perth Redbacks – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8.30pm
Perth Redbacks v Geraldton Buccaneers – Belmont Oasis 7.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Goldfields Giants – Lakeside Recreation Centre 7.30pm
South West Slammers v Stirling Senators – Eaton Recreation Centre 8pm
Mandurah Magic v East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8pm
Cockburn Cougars v Joondalup City Wolves – Wally Hagan Stadium 8pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Goldfields Giants – Bendat Basketball Centre 12pm
Joondalup City Wolves v Geraldton Buccaneers – Joondalup Basketball Stadium 12pm
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)