IT’S the third last round in the Women’s SBL and with most teams still having their seasons alive, there’s plenty to play for across the seven matches starting Friday night with the Joondalup Wolves, Perry Lakes Hawks, Willetton Tigers and Mandurah Magic all in action.
With two matches on Friday evening and then another five across Saturday afternoon and evening, with the stakes rising the closer the end of the season comes, every game takes on extra significance in Round 18 of the Women’s SBL season.
It all gets underway on Friday night as the Joondalup Wolves host the Perry Lakes Hawks at HBF Arena with the Gaye Mayger Shield on the line with the Wolfpack turning yellow in support of cancer awareness.
The other game on Friday night is another with plenty on the line for both teams involved, the Willetton Tigers and Mandurah Magic at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
That sets the stage for five more matches on Saturday starting with two games scheduled for 4pm with the Perth Redbacks taking on the Rockingham Flames and the Cockburn Cougars hosting the South West Slammers.
The Lakeside Lightning then play the Joondalup Wolves at 6pm with the Mandurah Magic also taking on the Kalamunda Eastern Suns, and the East Perth Eagles playing the Willetton Tigers.
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Round 18 in the Women’s SBL begins on Friday with the Cancer Awareness Round battle between the Lady Wolfpack and the Hawks.
The Wolves might have won two weeks ago against the East Perth Eagles to end their 10-game losing streak, but they have won just five games in 2018 heading into hosting the defending champions.
The Hawks did win just one of their opening 10 games of 2018 but since then they have won seven of their past nine to have improved to an 8-11 record in eighth position.
They do need to keep winning to remain in the top eight and try to move further up the standings though.
The other Friday night game has plenty riding on it as well with the Tigers hosting the Magic at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The Tigers come into the game in fifth position at 11-7 coming off a dominant 39-point win at home to the Cougars last Friday night. They do need to keep winning to firstly stay fifth and then be any chance of breaking into the top four though.
The Magic haven’t been able to back up last year’s dominant Grand Final season in 2018, but injuries have played a large part in that. Carly Boag is out for the season and then just as Casey Mihovilovich returns, Bree Klasztorny is sidelined.
Mandurah lost to Stirling last Sunday on the back of a 15-point win over East Perth the previous night. That sees the Magic sit seventh at 8-10 and heading into this weekend, they are still not guaranteed of a playoff position without some more wins.
There are then five matches on Saturday starting at 4pm with the Redbacks hosting the Flames in a game where Perth will be wearing special black uniforms that will be auctioned off in the name of charity.
It’s a massive game for both teams as they battle over second position with the Redbacks entering the round second at 16-4 while the Flames are third at 13-5.
The Redbacks have won seven straight matches now and a win on Saturday will see them secure second position but they will be without Kayla Standish.
The Flames are coming off a loss to the Stirling Senators last Friday night but they are still a chance of a top two finish if they can beat the Redbacks on Saturday at Belmont Oasis.
The other 4pm starting game on Saturday takes place at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cougars playing the Slammers.
Both teams currently sit outside the top eight entering the round and the loser on Saturday could just about kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
The Slammers have now lost three straight to fall outside the top eight at 7-12 including losing to both top two teams, the Lightning and Redbacks, last weekend.
The Cougars suffered a heavy 39-point loss to Willetton last Friday in the absence of Kisha Lee to see them slip to a 6-13 record meaning they likely can’t afford to lose another game to be any chance of reaching the playoffs.
Then later on Saturday with a 6pm tip-off the Lightning will host the Lady Wolfpack at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
The Lightning enters the round with top spot all but secured at 18-1 and having won 10 in-a-row including a 24-point win last Friday over the Slammers.
That means they will provide a big test for a Wolves team who will have already played host to the defending champion Hawks at HBF Arena on Friday night to open Round 18.
Then also on Saturday night, the Magic play host to the Kalamunda Eastern Suns at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre with plenty at stake.
The Magic will have already played at Willetton on Friday to open the weekend while the Eastern Suns will be making their only appearance.
The Suns need the win to stay in fourth position currently holding a 12-7 record following a five-point road loss to Perry Lakes last Saturday night.
The Eagles then attempt to get their first win of 2018 up against the Tigers at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre.
East Perth has lost all 19 games this year and has a long streak of 29 dating back to 2017, but they could certainly upset Willetton’s top four hopes with a surprise win on Saturday night on their home floor.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 18
Joondalup Wolves v Perry Lakes Hawks – HBF Arena 6.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Mandurah Magic – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm
Perth Redbacks v Rockingham Flames – Belmont Oasis 4.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v South West Slammers – Wally Hagan Stadium 4.00pm
Lakeside Lightning v Joondalup Wolves – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
East Perth Eagles v Willetton Tigers – Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 6.00pm