GAME 1 was a cracking contest and Game 2 hardly disappointed either with the Stirling Senators beating the Perth Redbacks by 11 points on Friday night at Warwick Stadium to set up the decider at Belmont Oasis in the Men’s quarter finals on Saturday.
Game 1 at Belmont Oasis last Friday night was a standalone men’s contest as well and it was quite a sight to behold with the defending champion Redbacks prevailing 114-109 in a high-quality affair to open the quarter finals against the Senators.
That meant Stirling needed to win at Warwick Stadium this Friday night to force the Game 1 and the Senators kept up their level from the opener, and turned up their defence, to come away with the impressive 107-96 victory over the Redbacks.
That means Game 3 will be held at Belmont Oasis on Saturday night with the winner to advance to the semi finals.
The other Men’s quarter-final Game 2 match ups take place on Saturday night too with the Geraldton Buccaneers at home to the Rockingham Flames while the Lakeside Lightning host the Perry Lakes Hawks and the Willetton Tigers take on the Joondalup Wolves.
MEN’S SBL PREVIEW – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2
FLAMES DEFY ODDS TO GIVE THEMSELVES A SHOT IN GERALDTON
DRIVEN REDBACKS EXPECTING EVEN MORE HEAT FROM SENATORS
WARRIOR WUNDENBERG FIGHTING TO KEEP DREAM ALIVE
SATURDAY MEN’S SBL RECAP – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 1
SCOTT AND TIGERS CONFIDENT OF CAUSING DAMAGE FROM SEVENTH SPOT
FRIDAY MEN’S SBL RECAP – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 1
IN LIMBO ELLIS BACKS SENATORS TO GO ALL THE WAY
Game 1 last Friday night at Belmont Oasis was likely as intense and high-quality a first round match up you are likely to see with the Redbacks just prevailing over the Senators to set the tone for the series to go up another level this weekend as the stakes rise.
Stirling knew its season was on the line and following quarter-final exits the past two years to Willetton and Geraldton, the Senators weren’t about to bow out without putting up one hell of a fight.
Both teams played at a tremendously high level offensively in the opening game and the Senators kept that going in particular on Friday on their home floor.
The Senators caught fire once again in the opening quarter putting up another 29 points in the first term after going for 40 last week.
That saw the home team lead by nine at quarter-time and then with another 30 points to 27 in the second term, they went into half-time feeling good leading 59-47.
By the time Caleb Davis drilled a three-pointer with four minutes left in the third quarter, Stirling was 23 points to the good and that even grew to 25 soon after with a pair of free throws to Jayden Coburn.
The Redbacks were always going to fire back, though, and despite losing Lee Roberts and Michael Vigor when they fouled out during the fourth quarter, the defending champions did make a run.
But the gap was too big to make up and they couldn’t get back closer than nine points before the Senators again steadied to win by 11 and set up what should be one heck of a Game 3 on Saturday night at Belmont Oasis.
Justin King had a huge night for Stirling finishing with 40 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals on shooting 14/26 from the field, 4/6 from three-point range and 8/8 from the foul line.
Caleb Davis added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Senators while held to just seven shots. Of those he made five including 2/3 from downtown.
Cody Ellis also had 17 points and three rebounds for Stirling, Robert Anshila 12 points and nine boards, and Corban Wroe 10 points, eight assists and three rebounds.
Shawn Redhage top-scored for the Redbacks with 21 points on shooting 6/11 from the floor and 8/9 from the foul line.
Lee Roberts added 21 points, 12 rebounds and two huge blocks for Perth with Jackson Hussey contributing 13 points, three boards and three assists, Ben Smith 10 points and four rebounds, and Mo Barrow nine points.
Senators coach Mike Ellis couldn’t fault much of what his team produced in Game 1, but felt the defence could have been a little tighter and he was delighted to see what they delivered in Game 2.
“We boiled last week’s game down to probably a one-minute spurt where we let them breakout and they got a couple, but it was a hell of a game. It was such a high-quality game but it just came down to them making bigger shots than we did,” Ellis said.
“But tonight our focus was to come out and be a little more defensively oriented because we thought we let them get on too much of a roll last week. And they are a very good team, I mean they are the champions from last year and they’ve added Barrow and Hussey. That makes them pretty tough.
“We wanted to come out and play some D tonight and I thought we did that. We were just solid and played really well. What is most pleasing is that I really didn’t believe that this series deserved to be a two-game series, it deserved to go to three games and now it’s a one-game series. ”
Ellis is now excited at what Saturday night will hold as he tries to get the Senators through to the semi finals after being in the same position this time last year after pushing the Geraldton Buccaneers to three games.
“We have to come out and get Game 3 now and it’s always hard to back up but their guys are playing as many minutes as our guys so it’s going to be a hell of a game again. It’s going to be a ripper and it will come down to the team who wants it the most,” Ellis said.
“This has been a long journey for us since I’ve been here and we’ve been trying to get some belief in the guys over the last three years. I think we almost had it last year and this year we’ve actually started to believe that we can do it. The biggest thing now will be which team comes out and plays the hardest tomorrow night.
“This is absolutely exciting to be part of. I said before this playoff series started that there are going to be teams in the bottom four that beat the top four teams with the way the league has been.
“Have a look at Rockingham cleaning up Geraldton to start with and now they only need to win one up there, and we’ve now sent this to a third game. I just think it’s a sign of how tough the league is this year and we are rapt that we’ve just given ourselves this opportunity. Now it’s up to us to take it.”
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – QUARTER FINALS WEEK 2
GAME 2 (Best of 3)
Stirling Senators (6) 107 defeated Perth Redbacks (3) 96 (Series tied 1-1)
Geraldton Buccaneers (1) v Rockingham Flames (8) – Active West Stadium 7.30pm (Rockingham leads 1-0)
Lakeside Lightning (5) v Perry Lakes Hawks (4) – Lakeside Recreation Centre 8.00pm (Perry Lakes leads 1-0)
Willetton Tigers (7) v Joondalup Wolves (2) – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8.00pm (Joondalup leads 1-0)
GAME 3 (if required)
Perth Redbacks (3) v Stirling Senators (6) – Belmont Oasis 8.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks (4) v Lakeside Lightning (5) – Bendat Basketball Centre 12.00pm
Joondalup Wolves (2) v Willetton Tigers (7) – HBF Arena 12.00pm
Geraldton Buccaneers (1) v Rockingham Flames (8) – Active West Stadium 12.00pm