TEN matches across four days will make up the Anzac Round in the Men’s SBL starting Friday night with Jalen Billups taking on his ex-Cockburn Cougars teammates for the first time as part of the Joondalup Wolves.
It’s a huge round of action in the Men’s SBL taking in the Anzac Day commemorations with three matches on Friday night, another three on Saturday, one on Sunday afternoon and then three on Wednesday for Anzac Day itself.
The three matches on Friday night to open Round 6 sees the Perry Lakes Hawks play the Stirling Senators, the Joondalup Wolves take on the Cockburn Cougars and the Rockingham Flames face the East Perth Eagles.
Then on Saturday night, the Perth Redbacks face the Goldfields Giants, the Geraldton Buccaneers battle the Lakeside Lightning and the South West Slammers play the Rockingham Flames.
There is then just the one game on Sunday afternoon with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns playing the Goldfields Giants at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Then on the afternoon of Anzac Day on Wednesday, the Willetton Tigers play the Kalamunda Eastern Suns, the Cockburn Cougars play the Stirling Senators and the Mandurah Magic face the Perth Redbacks.
Friday night in the Men’s SBL begins with the Hawks playing the Senators at Bendat Basketball Centre.
Perry Lakes has done well to be 3-3 despite having some personnel troubles so far in 2018 most notably the loss of import Tyler Monroe. But they will be looking to bounce back from a loss on the road to Kalamunda last Friday night.
Stirling, meanwhile, rebounded from its first loss of the season two weeks ago to the Wolves by beating Mandurah at home last Saturday night to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Also on Friday night, the Flames take on the Eagles at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
Rockingham is coming off a remarkable overtime win on Sunday against the Lightning with Greg Hire and Josh Ritchart putting in monster performances.
One of Hire’s old Perth Wildcats teammates Drew Williamson and his Eagles await on Friday with East Perth currently sitting in sixth spot with a 4-3 record.
Then lastly on Friday night, the Wolves take on the Cougars in a rematch from the quarter finals last year but with big man Jalen Billups having now switched sides.
He tried all he could to lift Cockburn over Joondalup last year, but is now in a Wolfpack uniform and Friday night will be his first appearance against his old team.
The Wolves enter the contest following their first loss of the season last Saturday night in Geraldton while the Cougars are 2-3.
Wolves coach Ben Ettridge couldn’t be happier with what Billups has provided his team so far as he prepares to face the Cougars for the first time.
“We knew that we had Dwayne (Benjamin) sorted and we had Jalen in our sights to play alongside him, but when Dwayne fell through we needed that playmaker and that’s when we went with Brian (Sullivan),” Ettridge said.
“We could have possibly had Jalen and Dwayne, which would have been phenomenal, but we couldn’t be happier with Brian and Jalen with how they have gelled. I keep telling my young guys that Jalen has the personality of what a 90s import was like.
“He has a huge personality and he reminds me of guys I grew up playing with like CJ and Vince Kelley. He’s not the dominant force, but he’s larger than life and he is just such a great guy.
“We couldn’t ask for a better bloke and his production at the offensive end is good and we are helping him improve in other areas. He is open and willing to do that which is what you want, and he’s that leader of the emotion of the group. He gets us up and about with his sense of humour and smile, he’s been great for us.”
Then on Saturday night, the Redbacks the Giants at Belmont Oasis. The defending champion Redbacks are coming off a loss last week to East Perth also on their home floor so they won’t be in a charitable mood hosting the 0-5 Giants.
The Buccaneers then look to continue their hot form since an opening round loss to the Redbacks.
The semi finalists of the past two years have now won five straight matches including handing the Wolves their first loss of 2018 as they host the Lightning on Saturday night at Active West Stadium.
Lakeside is coming off a heartbreaking loss in overtime on Sunday to Rockingham where they were without Mason Bragg, Jarrad Prue and Daniel Alexander.
Then lastly on Saturday night, the winless Slammers host the Flames at Eaton Recreation Centre. It was a much more competitive Slammers outfit that couldn’t quite hold on last Saturday night at home to Lakeside while Rockingham will have already played East Perth on Friday.
There is then the one match on Sunday afternoon with the Eastern Suns hosting the Giants at Ray Owen Sports Centre. Kalamunda enters the round at 3-4 while Goldfields will have already played the Redbacks the previous night.
Then on Anzac Day, the Eastern Suns back up by taking on the minor premiers of last year Willetton at Willetton Basketball Stadium. It will be the Tigers’ only appearance of the round coming into it at 3-3 after winning in Kalgoorlie last Saturday night.
The Cougars and Senators also do battle on Wednesday at Wally Hagan Stadium. Cockburn will have played in Joondalup on Friday and Stirling against Perry Lakes.
Lastly on Anzac Day, the Magic host the Redbacks at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre in a contest between the wooden spooners and championship winners of 2017.
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 6
Perry Lakes Hawks v Stirling Senators – Bendat Basketball Centre 8.30pm
Joondalup Wolves v Cockburn Cougars – HBF Arena 8.30pm
Rockingham Flames v East Perth Eagles – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 8.30pm
Perth Redbacks v Goldfields Giants – Belmont Oasis 7.30pm
Geraldton Buccaneers v Lakeside Lightning – Active West Stadium 7.30pm
South West Slammers v Rockingham Flames – Eaton Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Goldfields Giants – Ray Owen Sports Centre 12.00pm
WEDNESDAY (ANZAC DAY)
Willetton Tigers v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Willetton Basketball Stadium 3.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v Stirling Senators – Wally Hagan Stadium 3.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Perth Redbacks – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 3.00pm