THE Perth Redbacks and South West Slammers remain locked in a battle over eighth spot in the Women’s SBL as they prepare to face the top two teams on Friday night while the defending champion Willetton Tigers have a big double-header as well.
It is Week 19 in the SBL in what is the penultimate round of the 2017 season and that is making every game all the more important with playoff positions at stake.
If the Slammers hope to break into the playoffs they need to win at least one, possibly two, more games in the run home than the Redbacks with both having two matches remaining.
Both of them have huge challenges on Friday night with the Perth Redbacks playing the Mandurah Magic and the Perry Lakes Hawks facing the South West Slammers.
The other Friday night matches sees the Rockingham Flames play the Kalamunda Eastern Suns and the Stirling Senators taking on the Willetton Tigers.
There are then three more matches on Saturday night with the Lakeside Lightning playing the Perry Lakes Hawks, the East Perth Eagles facing the Cockburn Cougars and the Willetton Tigers battling the Joondalup City Wolves.
It’s a monster Friday night in the Women’s SBL with the four matches starting with the Redbacks hosting the Magic at Belmont Oasis.
Perth comes into the game clinging to eighth position at 7-13 having lost its last three games and 10 of its past 11. That has seen the Redbacks go from being in the top four to now clinging to a playoff position.
A win on Friday could lock away their playoff spot but it’s not going to be easy against the second placed Magic who have only lost twice in 2017 and each of those was against the league-leading Hawks.
The Magic had little trouble with the Redbacks in the first clash this season on their home floor winning 90-61.
The league-leading Hawks are then back to Bendat Basketball Centre to host the ninth placed Slammers.
Perry Lakes has just the two games left in its season this weekend so they won’t want any sort of slip up particularly when a loss to the Slammers could lead to a quarter-final match up between the two teams in a fortnight’s time.
The Slammers have shown good improvement this season to win the six games but they do need to win at least one more and possibly both their remaining games to make the playoffs.
They did quite well earlier in the season at home to Perry Lakes defensively holding their opponents to 62 points. The problem was the Slammers could only score 37 themselves.
Perry Lakes coach Deanna Smith is fully aware of the danger the young and energetic Slammers present.
“Bunbury are right there and thereabouts, they are just waiting for a couple of teams to drop a game or two and for them to continue to win to stay alive,” Smith said.
“So it does become a big game obviously for them but for us it’s a good test against a team who will have nothing to lose. They are always danger games, but we know what we need to do and what we need to continue to work on, and build. Hopefully we can produce that.”
The Flames and Eastern Suns meet at Mike Barnett Sports Complex. While both are out of contention for the playoffs, they will go into Friday’s clash expecting to win.
It will be Rockingham’s last home game of the season as the Flames look to win their sixth game of 2017. Kalamunda is also after a sixth victory to make up for recent losses to Willetton, Perry Lakes and Lakeside that ended their playoff chances.
Kalamunda did dominate Rockingham in the first meeting this season at Ray Owen Sports Centre winning 98-57.
It could be another playoff preview at Warwick Stadium in the final match up on Friday night with the fourth placed Senators hosting the fifth placed Tigers.
The Senators might be solid in fourth place but they can maintain their slim chances of improving to third with a win on Friday while the Tigers can send a message that they are going to be a force come playoff time.
With both coaches Glenn Clarke and Simon Parker good friends too, it could provide some insight into what is shaping up as an increasingly likely quarter-final match up. A Tigers win would make that even more likely while a loss could see them end up in sixth spot.
There are then another three Women’s SBL matches on Saturday night with the Lightning hosting the Hawks at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Lakeside has been in some impressive form consolidating third spot with a 15-5 record on the back of a four-game winning run since its last loss to Mandurah.
A win over Perry Lakes on Saturday and the Lightning would really set themselves up as a championship threat entering the playoffs.
However, the Hawks will want to use the game as a final tune up ahead of the finals with the bye to come next weekend.
“It’s a similar thing against Lakeside,” Smith said.
“They are a quality team as well so again it will be a really good test, but a good opportunity to get out and modify some stuff before we head into the finals.”
The Cougars can 100 per cent guarantee their playoff position when taking on the bottom placed Eagles at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre on Saturday night.
The Eagles will want to finish strongly on their home floor in an attempt to end an eight-game losing run but the Cougars can’t afford a slip up or it puts their finals spot somewhat in jeopardy.
The final game on the weekend shapes as another cracking contest with the Tigers hosting the Lady Wolfpack at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
The Tigers will be coming off playing Stirling on Friday night while the Wolves will be playing their only game of the weekend coming in having won six of their past seven games.
Both teams have been in better form of late and now are guaranteed of finishing fifth and sixth. With both on 11 wins coming into the round, they are battling over who finishes where and that could be decided on Saturday night.
Coming off playing in last year’s grand final, while they won’t end up with home court advantage this season both are building form that will make them hard to stop come playoff time.
WEEK 19 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Perth Redbacks v Mandurah Magic – Belmont Oasis 6.30pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v South West Slammers – Bendat Basketball Centre 6.30pm
Rockingham Flames v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.30pm
Stirling Senators v Willetton Tigers – Warwick Stadium 6.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Perry Lakes Hawks – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6pm
East Perth Eagles v Cockburn Cougars – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6pm
Willetton Tigers v Joondalup City Wolves – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6pm
Photo by Belinda Pike (Croc Photography)