JALEN Billups makes his return to Wally Hagan Stadium as his Joondalup Wolves face the Cockburn Cougars in the Men’s SBL on Friday night in just one of nine contests to look out for in Round 13.
With the SBL coming off another successful All-Star Game held at Bendat Basketball Centre on the WA Day public holiday Monday, attention now returns to the 2018 season proper.
That begins on Friday night with the Cockburn Cougars hosting the Joondalup Wolves with the East Perth Eagles also taking on the Kalamunda Eastern Suns and the Lakeside Lightning playing the Stirling Senators.
Then on Saturday night, each regional city hosts a game with the Geraldton Buccaneers taking on the Perth Redbacks, the Goldfields Giants playing the Rockingham Flames and the South West Slammers facing the Willetton Tigers.
The three metropolitan fixtures on Saturday night then see the Stirling Senators battle the East Perth Eagles, the Mandurah Magic play the Perry Lakes Hawks and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns face the Lakeside Lightning.
Friday night in the Men’s SBL begins with the Cougars hosting the Wolves at Wally Hagan Stadium marking Jalen Billups first return to Cockburn where he played so well last year now with his Joondalup teammates.
The Wolves arrive on a 10-game winning streak as well and sitting atop the Men’s SBL standings with a 15-1 record while the Cougars have now lost two straight since losing Perth Wildcats shooting guard Clint Steindl to a fractured wrist after he helped them to wins over East Perth and Willetton.
That leaves the Cougars in 10th position and needing a win to avoid slipping further from eighth position by the end of Round 13.
The Eagles also host the Eastern Suns at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre with both teams looking to find a way to break into a playoff position.
East Perth has now lost five straight matches to sit 11th at 5-11 while Kalamunda is coming off an impressive win against the Perth Redbacks. The Suns have won two in-a-row and a third straight could give them a chance of ending the weekend inside the top eight.
Kevin Davis will also be playing for Kalamunda up against East Perth on his old home floor from last season for the first time.
Lastly on Friday night, the Lightning host the Senators at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Lakeside is in tremendous form with a four-game winning run since the arrivals of Daniel Alexander, Corey Shervill and Bryan Michaels. That has seen the Lightning improve to an 8-7 record in sixth position ahead of Friday’s clash with the fourth placed Senators.
Stirling remains fourth despite a two-game losing run and a loss at Joondalup last Saturday night, but they still hold a 9-7 record.
Then on Saturday night, it all gets underway with the Buccs hosting the Redbacks in what shapes as quite the battle between two genuine championship threats in 2018.
Coming off reaching the semi finals the past two years, the Buccaneers look to have gone to another level in 2018 and are currently on a seven-game winning streak in second position with a 13-2 record.
They are coming off two wins over the Giants last weekend by a combined 69 points as they now host the defending champion Redbacks and Buccs players of the past two seasons, Jackson Hussey and Mo Barrow.
That adds some extra spice to the contest as well and the Redbacks certainly won’t want to drop two straight games having lost to the Eastern Suns last Saturday night. They currently sit in third spot at 11-5 but a loss could loosen their grip on their top four position.
Then also on Saturday night, the Giants play host to the Flames at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium with Goldfields coming off those two losses to Geraldton last weekend. They have now lost five straight to be anchored to bottom spot at 2-13.
They welcome a firing Rockingham team too who have won three straight since ending their five-game losing run with the arrival of Illawarra Hawks NBL captain Kevin White.
The Flames beat the Cougars last Friday even without Greg Hire and Curtis Washington, and should regain them for the trip to Kalgoorlie as they look to improve on their 9-7 record to close in on a top four position.
The Slammers also try to build some momentum this season when they host Willetton at Eaton Recreation Centre on Saturday night.
The Slammers got their fourth win of the season last Friday beating the Magic in Mandurah and they now will attempt to make it five up against the Tigers.
Willetton has slipped to an 8-7 record and will be hoping to stay above .500 and welcome star forward Jay Bowie for the trip south on Saturday night.
The Magic then play host to the Hawks at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
Mandurah has lost a couple in-a-row since winning a controversial thriller against Kalamunda with the Magic now sitting 13th at 3-11 including a 23-point loss at home to the Slammers last Friday.
Meanwhile, the Hawks snapped their losing run last Friday beating the East Perth Eagles to retain their position inside the top eight with a 7-8 record.
Also on Saturday night, the Senators play the Eagles at Warwick Stadium with Stirling having played at Lakeside on Friday while East Perth will have played host to Kalamunda.
Then lastly on Saturday evening, the Eastern Suns host the Lightning at Ray Owen Sports Centre. Both teams enter the round in good touch and will have already played crucial matches on Friday night to open the round.
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 13
Cockburn Cougars v Joondalup Wolves – Wally Hagan Stadium 8.30pm
East Perth Eagles v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Stirling Senators – Lakeside Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Geraldton Buccaneers v Perth Redbacks – Active West Stadium 7.30pm
Goldfields Giants v Rockingham Flames – Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium 7.30pm
South West Slammers v Willetton Tigers – Eaton Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Stirling Senators v East Perth Eagles – Warwick Stadium 8.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Perry Lakes Hawks – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Lakeside Lightning – Ray Owen Sports Centre 8.30pm