IF the South West Slammers and Kalamunda Eastern Suns want to stay in the Women’s SBL playoff race they have to beat top four teams in Week 18 while the Cockburn Cougars and Perth Redbacks desperately cling to the last two finals positions.
There are three games each on Friday and Saturday nights in Week 18 of the Women’s SBL season as four teams continue to fight over the remaining two top eight positions up for grabs.
The three games on Friday night see the Rockingham Flames play the Perry Lakes Hawks, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns take on the Lakeside Lightning and the Willetton Tigers host the Perth Redbacks.
Then on Saturday night, the South West Slammers host the Stirling Senators, the Mandurah Magic face the East Perth Eagles and the Cockburn Cougars battle the Joondalup City Wolves.
LADY SENATORS GETTING PREPARATION FOR PLAYOFFS SPOT ON
LIGHTNING FOCUS ON BEING AT BEST TO OPEN PLAYOFFS
TEENAGE SLAMMERS PROVIDE EXCITEMENT WITH PLAYOFF HOPES NOT DEAD
WEEK 17 SUNDAY WOMEN’S SBL RESULTS
Friday night’s Women’s SBL action begins at Mike Barnett Sports Complex with the Flames hosting the league-leading Hawks.
Rockingham is coming off a win last week over the East Perth Eagles that moves them clear of bottom place, but the Flames are out of playoff contention at 5-15.
The Lady Hawks, meanwhile, remain clear on top of the standings with an 18-1 record and on a four-match winning streak.
The two teams met back on May 20 at Bendat Basketball Centre with Perry Lakes winning by 15 points.
The Eastern Suns then put their playoff hopes on the line hosting the in-form Lightning at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The Suns have lost their past two games to Willetton and Perry Lakes to slip to 10th position with a 5-14 record. To now be any hope of breaking into the top eight, Kalamunda will need to win its last three games starting Friday night at home to Lakeside.
But it’s going to be no easy task with the Lightning currently sitting pretty in third spot at 14-5 on a three-game winning run since losing to the second placed Magic.
With the Suns needing to win to stay alive and the Lightning to remain in third spot it shapes as a fascinating contest not to mention with Lakeside coach Craig Mansfield going up against his former club.
The two teams last met way back on March 30 with Lakeside winning at home by six points.
The last game on Friday night sees the defending champion Tigers hosting the Redbacks at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
Willetton’s rollercoaster season continued last week with a loss to the Slammers on the back of big wins over the Flames and Eastern Suns following a 44-point loss to Mandurah.
The Tigers now enter Week 18 with a 10-8 record to remain in fifth position and looking virtually secured of at least finish in the top six while the Redbacks could risk dropping out of the top eight altogether with another loss.
Perth remains clinging to eighth with a 7-12 record having won just one of its past 10 matches. However, a win and the Redbacks could move two games clear of the Slammers and be safe in a playoff position.
The Tigers did win the early clash between the two teams this season by seven points.
Then on Saturday night, the Slammers and Senators meet in a crucial and fascinating contest for both clubs at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The Slammers beat the Tigers and Flames the past two weeks before a hefty road loss to the Lightning on Sunday to remain in the playoff race at 6-13 in ninth position. A win on Saturday night and they could find themselves inside the top eight depending on other results.
But beating the fourth placed Senators will be no easy task. They lost to the Lightning last Friday night to slip to fourth place but they bounced back on Sunday to win over the Redbacks and if they keep winning, they remain a chance to reclaim third spot.
The Senators did beat the Slammers earlier in the season at Warwick Stadium by 19 points.
Slammers coach Peter Harper knows their playoff hopes go on the line in the contest.
“We just hope things fall our way and we are still in charge of our own destiny if we can beat Stirling, then we’ll worry about the rest after that,” Harper said.
“Their form has been a little bit sketchy over the last month so we are going into the game with the mindset that we can win, and have to win. There’s no doubt they will have the same mindset so it will be a challenge for us, but hopefully one we can rise to.”
Senators coach Glenn Clarke certainly won’t be taking the Slammers lightly.
“Willetton shot 32 points in the first quarter against them last week and they still beat them, so that tells you that they don’t give up and shows what home court can do. It’s probably about two degrees down there too at this time of year,” Clarke said.
“We can’t afford a slip up against a team like who are fighting for that top eight. They are going to be giving their last breath to win the game and they are trying to get that relentless winning attitude. So we have to play four quarters of solid game like it’s the last game we’re going to play.”
One game this weekend that might not have too many implications for the finals takes place at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with the Magic hosting the Eagles.
Mandurah comes into the game fresh off the bye and in second position at 17-2 but having had two weeks to stew over a second loss for the season to Perry Lakes.
The Magic will look to take those frustrations out on the Eagles on Saturday night with East Perth anchored to bottom spot having lost seven in-a-row.
Lastly on Saturday night, the Cougars host the Lady Wolfpack in another game with plenty riding on the result at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Cockburn enters the contest in seventh position with a 7-12 record while Joondalup is sixth at 10-9.
The Wolves look solid for at least a top six finish while the Cougars are not yet guaranteed of a playoff position. A win on Saturday night would go a long way to securing that for Cockburn but a loss will leave them vulnerable with two rounds and two matches remaining.
The Lady Wolfpack did win the opening game of the season against the Cougars by two points at Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
WEEK 18 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Rockingham Flames v Perry Lakes Hawks – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.30pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Lakeside Lightning – Ray Owen Sports Centre 6.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Perth Redbacks – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm
South West Slammers v Stirling Senators – Eaton Recreation Centre 6pm
Mandurah Magic v East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6pm
Cockburn Cougars v Joondalup City Wolves – Wally Hagan Stadium 6pm
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)