THE Joondalup Wolves continued their undefeated start to the Men’s SBL season beating the South West Slammers by 49 points while the Willetton Tigers and Geraldton Buccaneers both scored Round 4 Sunday victories.
The Wolves, Buccs and Tigers were three of the four teams in the semi finals in the Men’s SBL last year and all came away with Sunday victories to close Round 4 of the 2018 season.
The round began on Friday night with the defending champion Perth Redbacks beating the Cockburn Cougars 101-92 in overtime at Belmont Oasis and the Lakeside Lightning beating the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 95-65 at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Then on Saturday night, the East Perth Eagles beat the Goldfields Giants 103-85 at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium, the Rockingham Flames defeated the Perry Lakes Hawks 90-87 at Bendat Basketball Centre, the Joondalup Wolves downed the Stirling Senators 111-93 at Warwick Stadium and the Geraldton Buccaneers prevailed 107-84 against the Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
There were then three more matches on Sunday afternoon with the Geraldton Buccaneers beating the Kalamunda Eastern Suns 108-88, the Willetton Tigers finishing strongly to overcome the Mandurah Magic 80-74 and the Joondalup Wolves thumping the South West Slammers 97-48.
The Sunday Round 4 Men’s SBL action got underway at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the Eastern Suns hosting the Buccaneers.
Kalamunda was coming off a disappointing 30-point loss to Lakeside on Friday night while Geraldton had won well by 23 points at Willetton on Saturday evening.
The Buccs made a hot start with 33 points to 22 in the opening quarter and led the game from start to finish. They were up by as much as 24 points at one stage before winning by 20.
Colter Lasher had another dazzling shooting performance for the Buccaneers finishing with 35 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals on the back of going 14/19 from the field, 2/5 from deep and 5/7 from the foul line.
Marcus Alipate also had 28 points and seven assists for Geraldton shooting 7/10 from the floor and 4/6 from long range.
Gokul Natesan contributed 14 points and three assists as well for the Buccs, Liam Hunt 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Aaron Ralph 10 points and four rebounds.
Kevin Davis top-scored with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Eastern Suns while Logan Viskovich contributed 20 points, Jono Diaz 19 points, five assists and four rebounds, and Kerrod Horn 14 points, four assists and three rebounds despite nine turnovers.
Ryan Blanchett also had four points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Kalamunda.
The Magic then hosted the Tigers at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with Willetton starting solidly enough to lead 18-14 by quarter-time.
But the Magic took over in the second quarter to lead 38-32 by half-time and then continued to be on top through the third period leading by as much as 17 points and still by 13 at three quarter-time.
However, Willetton knew it was a big early season game for them after a slow start to 2018. The regular season champions of 2017 found another gear in the fourth quarter inspired by Jay Bowie to pile on 36 points and come away from Mandurah with the six-point victory.
Bowie was inspirational for the Tigers finishing the afternoon with 32 points, 13 rebounds and four assists while shooting 13/31 from the field and 6/7 at the charity stripe.
Damien Scott added 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals too for Willetton with Badou Diagne contributing eight points and six rebounds, and Andrew Black seven points and two steals.
Jamal Shabazz top-scored for Mandurah with 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals with Chudier Pal contributing 23 points, 12 boards and three assists.
But the Magic just didn’t have the depth to capitalise on their strong first three quarters without Shaun Stewart and only eight players hitting the court with seven of those playing 20 or more minutes.
Chad Miegel did have 12 points and three rebounds also for the Magic and Damon Ballantyne seven points and nine boards.
The last game of the round then took place at HBF Arena with the undefeated Wolves hosting the winless Slammers, and things certainly stayed that way after the contest.
The Wolfpack improved to 5-0 sending the Slammers to 0-4 with Joondalup recording the remarkably emphatic 49-point victory on their new home floor.
It was 18-year-old big man Ben Gaspar who grabbed his opportunities for the Wolfpack top-scoring with 16 points and eight rebounds on 5/5 shooting from the field and 6/8 from the free-throw line.
His performance included a couple of thunderous slams as he enjoyed the chance to battle the likes of Clive Weeden and Justin Reynolds from the Slammers.
Jalen Billups added 15 points and five rebounds for the Wolves, Jordan Wellsteed 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, Rob Huntington 11 points and two blocked shots, Sean Easther nine points and four rebounds, and Brian Sullivan eight points, six assists and five boards.
Wolves coach Ben Ettridge was happy to get the chance to blood some of his younger players with the scoreline and with Trian Iliadis, Rhys Smyth and Damian Matacz not suiting up.
“We spend a lot of time with those development and Division 1 guys, and we are trying to keep a good crop of kids in the club,” Ettridge said.
“So when we can give them any opportunities to play against the next level, we look for it. We’ve kind of scheduled a few games in this year where those guys who have got the kilometres in the legs like Trian, Damo, Seb, Robbie and Phil will all have the opportunity to miss a game here and there.
“To have those kids step up and deliver like they did is exciting for everyone. Ben Gaspar is a kid that’s playing his third year of organised basketball so for him to play against SBL imports and an experienced guy like Clive Weeden made us all very proud of him and the rest of the guys.”
It was an afternoon to forget for the Slammers with Justin Reynolds finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. Michael Lay added 10 points and six rebounds.
WEEK 4 MEN’S SBL FIXTURES
Perth Redbacks 101 defeated Cockburn Cougars 92
Lakeside Lightning 95 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 65
Goldfields Giants 85 lost to East Perth Eagles 103
Perry Lakes Hawks 87 lost to Rockingham Flames 90
Stirling Senators 93 lost to Joondalup Wolves 111
Willetton Tigers 84 lost to Geraldton Buccaneers 107
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 88 lost to Geraldton Buccaneers 108
Mandurah Magic 74 lost to Willetton Tigers 80
Joondalup Wolves 97 defeated South West Slammers 48