MOST Women’s SBL playoff positions have been decided but the South West Slammers still remain an outside chance of grabbing eighth spot while the Stirling Senators and Willetton Tigers are fighting over fourth.
It remains the slimmest of slim chances that the South West Slammers could still replace the Perth Redbacks in eighth position. But for that to happen the Redbacks would need to be thumped by the bottom placed Eagles and the Slammers would need to win massively on the road to the Wolfpack.
That does seem unlikely meaning the top eight might be set heading into the final round but that doesn’t mean all five matches don’t present plenty of intrigue.
The two Week 20 Women’s SBL matches on Friday night sees the Lakeside Lightning play the Willetton Tigers and the Cockburn Cougars take on the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.
Then on Saturday night, the Joondalup City Wolves play the South West Slammers, the Mandurah Magic face the Stirling Senators and the East Perth Eagles battle the Perth Redbacks.
Week 20 action begins on Friday night with a fascinating clash between the third placed Lighting and fifth placed Tigers at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
While the Lightning are locked into third position as they gear up for a quarter-final series with the Lady Wolfpack, the Tigers know they will be playing the Senators but home court advantage is still possible.
If Willetton wins on Friday and Stirling loses Saturday night, then the Tigers will finish fourth and take home-court advantage in that quarter-final contest.
Lakeside comes into the game in outstanding form having won five straight including a 22-point win over the minor premier Lady Hawks last Saturday night. That has seen the Lightning lose just five games for the season and emerge as a genuine championship threat.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Tigers haven’t had an easy time of things throughout 2017 but they are now in their best form of the season and have their full squad available with the returns of Kate Malpass and Desiree Kelley.
Willetton has won its last three games all against fellow playoff sides the Redbacks, Senators and Wolves meaning there is still plenty of life in their championship defence.
The other Friday night game pits the Cougars against the Eastern Suns at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Cockburn has cemented a playoff position with an 8-13 record and the Cougars look likely to finish seventh to have the challenge of facing the Magic in the quarter finals.
Kalamunda might not be making the playoffs but still have a strong, talented line-up that will want to finish the season on a high to show what was possible had they been able to get over the line in a couple more games along the way.
Saturday night gets underway with the Lady Wolfpack hosting the Slammers in the last ever regular season game at Joondalup Basketball Stadium.
It won’t be the last game at the stadium given both the men and women’s Wolves teams will take part in the playoffs, but it will still be a night of celebration of basketball in the building ahead of their move to the brand new facility at Arena Joondalup in 2018.
The Wolves might not be able to move out of sixth position no matter the result ahead of their quarter-final battle with the Lightning, but they will want to go into that in winning form after a 20-point defeat at the hands of Willetton last Saturday night.
The Slammers’ only hope of still snatching eighth place is by thumping the Wolves though. That’s not going to be easy but to be any chance they will need to welcome back Raya Thompson and Brittany Hodges to provide some added firepower to make it even remotely possible.
Another two top four teams then lock horns when the second placed Magic host the fourth placed Senators at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
Mandurah is locked in to finish second and likely play Cockburn in the quarter finals but the Magic will want to keep their losses at two for the season heading into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Stirling must win to avoid coughing up home-court advantage in the quarter finals against Willetton. If the Tigers lose on Friday the pressure’s off, but if they win then the pressure goes on the Senators to knock off the Magic in Mandurah.
Magic coach Randy Miegel has no doubt that whether positions are at stake or not, both he and Senators coach Glenn Clarke will 100 per cent be trying to win.
“I think we’ll be throwing everything at it and I’m pretty sure Glenn will be the same,” Miegel said.
“We want to keep momentum going and there might be a couple of things we work on against them which we may use for our finals match up the next week, but we’ll be just trying to win for sure more than anything.”
The Eagles then finish their season hosting the Redbacks at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre.
East Perth will be trying to finish its season on a high by winning its third game while Perth could still need to win the game depending on what happens with the Slammers against the Wolves.
If the Redbacks beat the Eagles then they make the playoffs no matter. If they lose and the Slammers win, Perth will just be hoping the margins in both games haven’t been large enough for them to drop to ninth position.
WEEK 20 WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Lakeside Lightning v Willetton Tigers – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Cockburn Cougars v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Wally Hagan Stadium 6.30pm
Joondalup City Wolves v South West Slammers – Joondalup Basketball Stadium 6pm
Mandurah Magic v Stirling Senators – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6pm
East Perth Eagles v Perth Redbacks – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6pm