IT’S Easter and that means it’s the traditional monster Thursday night of Women’s SBL action with six matches featuring all 12 teams taking place from 6.30pm.
Round 3 of the Women’s SBL season sees all six matches take place on Thursday night at 6.30pm before the 12 teams across the competition get to enjoy the Easter Break.
Those six matches see the Perry Lakes Hawks play the Cockburn Cougars, the Joondalup Wolves face the Perth Redbacks, the Mandurah Magic take on the Rockingham Flames, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns play the East Perth Eagles, the Stirling Senators face off with the Lakeside Lightning and the Willetton Tigers host the South West Slammers.
All six Women’s SBL matches on Thursday night take place from 6.30pm across the six venues.
Starting at Bendat Basketball Centre, the defending champion Lady Hawks host the Cougars in a rematch from a spirited quarter-final series last year.
The Hawks started their title defence with a big loss to Mandurah before last Friday night beating East Perth by 28 points and then losing on the road to Lakeside 24 hours later by 18 points.
So going 1-2 to start the championship defence, even without Nat Burton and Gabby O’Sullivan, hasn’t been ideal for Perry Lakes who will look to bounce back strongly at home to Cockburn.
The Cougars are 1-0 so far in 2018 having beaten East Perth by 29 points in the opening round before the bye last weekend.
One of the more fascinating of the Thursday night contests will take place at HBF Arena with the Lady Wolfpack hosting the Redbacks.
Both teams suffered losses in the opening round with Joondalup losing at home to Willetton while Perth went down to Lakeside, but they bounced back in Round 2.
That saw the Redbacks beat the Eastern Suns by 38 points last Friday night while the Wolves also defeated Kalamunda on Saturday by 10 points.
So the Thursday night battle will give a good indication of where both teams sit coming into 2018.
Another fascinating battle will take place at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre between the Magic and Flames.
Mandurah has started the new season in hot form after last year’s Grand Final appearance with big wins over the Hawks and Slammers away from home.
They now play their first home game on Thursday night up against a Rockingham team looking to bounce back hard in 2018 and who will still have Darcee Garbin for the clash on the back of her championship winning season with the Townsville Fire in the WNBL.
The Flames opened their season with a strong seven-point home win against the Stirling Senators before the bye last weekend.
The Eastern Suns return to their home floor to host the Eagles on Thursday in a battle between two teams trying to regain some confidence.
Kalamunda started the season well beating the Slammers at home, but things weren’t quite as good last weekend with losses to the Redbacks and Wolves.
The Eagles lost to the Cougars to open the season by 29 points before last weekend also going down Perry Lakes by 28 points.
The Tigers have started the season in hot form with road wins against Joondalup and Stirling on the back of Player of the Week performances by Seattle Storm WNBA and Perth Lynx WNBL star Sami Whitcomb.
They now host the Slammers at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Thursday with South West having opened 2018 with tough losses to the Suns and Redbacks.
The last game of the night is then between the Senators and Lightning at Warwick Stadium.
Stirling opened the season with a seven-point road loss to Rockingham before also going down to Willetton at home last Sunday.
They now have a four-day turnaround to take on a Lakeside team who went so close to a Grand Final last year, and has opened 2018 with wins against the Redbacks and Hawks.
With Sydnee Fipps and Ali Schwagmeyer, and most of the rest of the squad returning from last year topped up with the additions of Courtney Byrnes and Mel Moyle, it’s an impressive looking Lightning line-up.
Coach Craig Mansfield is happy with the start to the season but knows the Senators are going to be another strong test.
“We deliberately started pre-season really late this year to hopefully have a little more energy towards the end. If you had offered me a couple of softer games, I probably would have taken them to start the season but now we are through and got the wins, I’m happy,” Mansfield said.
“It’s probably the benefit of returning pretty much everyone from last year and then we got a couple of additions. But Ali only got in 10 days before we played Redbacks and Syd got in 36 hours before, and then last week we had issues with training and venues.
“I’m just happy to be 2-0 and now we have a short turnaround to Senators. We played them on Thursday and will only get in one full training before that.”
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 3
Perry Lakes Hawks v Cockburn Cougars – Bendat Basketball Centre 6.30pm
Joondalup Wolves v Perth Redbacks – HBF Arena 6.30pm
Mandurah Magic v Rockingham Flames – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v East Perth Eagles – Ray Owen Sports Centre 6.30pm
Stirling Senators v Lakeside Lightning – Warwick Stadium 6.30pm
Willetton Tigers v South West Slammers – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm