IT was a tremendous opening night of Men’s SBL action for 2018 on Friday night with first up victories for the defending champion Perth Redbacks along with the Stirling Senators and East Perth Eagles in two tight encounters.
The 2018 Men’s SBL season got underway on Friday night with the three matches that saw the Perth Redbacks beat the Lakeside Lightning 102-88, the Stirling Senators defeat the Rockingham Flames 87-85 and the East Perth Eagles down the Cockburn Cougars 93-87.
The Redbacks began their championship defence at home to the Lightning on Friday night at Belmont Oasis with Alex Loughton back for another short stint on the back of his rejuvenated NBL season with the Cairns Taipans.
There was no Lee Roberts or Shawn Redhage for the Redbacks, but former Buccs import Mo Barrow made his debut with the club as did Jackson Hussey in the 14-point victory over the Lightning.
Barrow had a huge night carrying on his impressive form from the past two seasons in Geraldton with 33 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals on 14/22 shooting from the floor.
Loughton was also terrific with 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists settling on the inside where he shot 11/14.
Zac Gattorna also contributed 13 points and seven rebounds for Perth, Ben Smith 13 points and six boards, and Hussey 11 points.
Mason Bragg looked good in his first game for the Lightning under new coach Dave Daniels, finishing the night with 22 points, six assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Matt Vinci also had 21 points for Lakeside, Rowan Mackenzie 19 and John Isenbarger 19. Jarrad Prue marked his return with another 21 rebounds and seven points to show he’s lost none of his dominance on the glass.
It was a thriller at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Friday night too with the Senators ending up prevailing by two points to get their season off on a winning note against the Flames.
New Stirling import Justin King had a monster night on debut with 33 points and nine rebounds on 12/19 shooting including 4/5 from deep.
Cody Ellis added 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Robert Anshila contributed 13 points and eight boards, and Ash Litterick 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Flames fought hard without Greg Hire and new import Curtis Washington. Dexter Kernich-Drew delivered 28 points, eight rebounds and six steals with Josh Ritchart delivering 26 points, eight boards and four assists.
Luke Travers also had 11 points for Rockingham and Ryan Godfrey nine.
It was another tight affair at Wally Hagan Stadium with East Perth holding on against Cockburn to win by six points in the first game under new coach Aaron Berryman.
Evergreen veteran Drew Williamson finished with 21 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Eagles with Jonathan Morse adding 21 points and five boards.
Ngor Manyang contributed eight points and five rebounds, Kieran Berry eight points and Aiden Murphy seven along with six rebounds. Corey Easley also collected 10 rebounds.
Gavin Field led the way for the Cougars with 24 points, 14 rebounds and four steals playing all 40 minutes of the game.
Seva Chan added 15 points and seven assists, Jake Knight 14 points, six rebounds and five assists, Steven Van Lit 11 points and Jaarod Holmes 11 along with eight rebounds.
WEEK 1 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Cockburn Cougars 87 lost to East Perth Eagles 93
Rockingham Flames 85 lost to Stirling Senators 87
Perth Redbacks 102 defeated Lakeside Lightning 88
Perth Redbacks v Geraldton Buccaneers – Belmont Oasis 7.30pm
Rockingham Flames v Goldfields Giants – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 8.00pm
Joondalup Wolves v Willetton Tigers – HBF Arena 8.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Mandurah Magic – Bendat Basketball Centre 8.00pm
Stirling Senators v Goldfields Giants – Warwick Stadium 12.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Geraldton Buccaneers – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 12.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v South West Slammers – Ray Owen Sports Centre 4.00pm