THERE is great excitement around the Rockingham Flames in the Men’s SBL for 2019 and they have a stern Round 2 test in their home opener hosting the reigning champion Perry Lakes Hawks with both coming off opening round losses.
The Flames and Hawks did battle in an intense three-game semi-final series last year with Perry Lakes ending up prevailing in Game 3 to reach the Grand Final and ultimately win the championship.
Now they have an early chance at a rematch on Friday night to open Round 2 at Mike Barnett Sports Complex in a standalone Men’s SBL fixture.
Both teams are coming off losses too with Rockingham losing in Geraldton and Perry Lakes going down at home to Joondalup so there’s plenty of intrigue despite the clash only taking place in Round 2.
There are then six games on Saturday night with 12 of the 14 teams in action starting at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Willetton Tigers playing Lakeside Lightning.
The Geraldton Buccaneers are also hosting the South West Slammers with the Goldfields Giants at home for the first time in 2019 against the Perth Redbacks.
The East Perth Eagles take on the Cockburn Cougars at Herb Graham Recreation Centre with the Joondalup Wolves playing the Warwick Senators and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns facing the Mandurah Magic.
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ROUND 1 MEN’S SBL RECAP
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2019 MEN’S SBL SEASON PREVIEW
Round 2 gets underway with the semi-final rematch between the Flames and Hawks.
Rockingham was a surprise semi-finalist last year coming from eighth position to be one game from the Grand Final and now they have a new coach in Ryan Petrik in 2019.
The Flames lost in Geraldton last Saturday but they were without Greg Hire, Brad Robbins, Callum Beard and Jarryd Griffin. Time will tell who is available on Friday, but they will be keen to put on a good showing at home.
It wasn’t quite the season-opener Perry Lakes hoped for on the night they raised their championship banner. They lost to the Wolves in a Grand Final rematch by 36 points but were without Lochlan Cummings and Tevin Jackson while 297-game captain and star Ben Purser went down injured.
Now both teams will have memories of their series last year and also be keen to get their first win of 2019 come Friday night setting the stage for a terrific standalone clash.
The big night of Saturday action begins with the 7pm tip-off game between the Tigers and Lightning at the redeveloping Willetton Basketball Stadium.
Both teams won their opening round games with the Tigers beating the Cougars and the Lightning defeating the Magic with Saturday now providing the chance for one of them to get off to a flying start to the new season.
There’s added intrigue too with former Willetton captain Kyle Armour playing against his former team for the first time since joining Lakeside this off-season and reaching 200 SBL games last Friday night.
The Buccaneers remain on their home floor coming off an 86-70 win over Rockingham last Saturday night to now host the Slammers this week.
The Slammers had a 10-point loss at home last Saturday but there were encouraging signs under new coach John Triscari with 33 points and 12 rebounds from new import Tyler Livingston, 21 points and eight boards from James Goodlad, and 19 points and nine assists from Michael Lay.
The Giants will play their first home game of the season too up against the Redbacks.
Goldfields looked good in Perth for their road double-header last weekend losing to the Wolves by eight points before backing up on Sunday afternoon beating the Eastern Suns by 33 points.
It was a weekend that saw Dave Humphries average 24.5 points and 7.0 rebounds, Patrick Burke 16.0 points and 6.5 boards, Manylok Malek 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds and Jay Bowie 11.5 points, 8.5 boards and 6.0 assists.
They now host the Redbacks who were dramatically undermanned last week at home to the Senators, losing by 35 points without Marshall Nelson, Lee Roberts, Jourdan DeMuynck and Kyle Bowen on top of the off-season departures of Shawn Redhage, Ben Smith, Michael Vigor, Jackson Hussey and Mo Barrow.
Bowen looks like the only inclusion from that group for the trip to Kalgoorlie but the Redbacks will be looking to still respond and put in a vastly improved showing.
East Perth will play their first home game of the season having made the move to Herb Graham Recreation Centre with the Eagles looking to remain undefeated in 2019 hosting the Cougars.
East Perth looked good last week beating the Slammers on the road 108-98 with 23 points and six rebounds from Andrej Donlagic, 22 points and five rebounds from Cameron Williams, 19 points and six boards from Drew Williamson, and 16 points and seven rebounds from Jordan Wellsteed.
The Cougars might have lost to Willetton last Saturday but not without a competitive showing with inspirational captain Gavin Field leading the way with 36 points and 14 rebounds.
Another semi-final rematch will take place at HBF Arena also on Saturday night with the Wolves hosting the Senators.
Joondalup proved too good for Warwick in the semi finals of last year on their way to a fourth successive Grand Final with the Wolfpack now starting the new season impressively with two wins last weekend.
They won their Grand Final rematch over Perry Lakes by 36 points and then beat Goldfields by eight with the combination of the arrivals of Earnest Ross, Ridell Camidge and returning Kevin Davis settling in quickly alongside the core including Seb Salinas, Ben Ironmonger, Trian Iliadis, Reece Maxwell and Rob Huntington.
The Senators started their season beating the Redbacks 96-61 as well last Saturday night on the back of 23 points and nine rebounds for Justin King, 23 points and six boards from Caleb Davis, and 14 points, five rebounds and four assists from Wani Swaka Lo Buluk.
The final game of the round takes place at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the Eastern Suns hosting the Magic.
The teams already met last Friday night with Kalamunda winning 82-75 in Mandurah. The Suns now will attempt to back that up for their second win of the year with the Magic trying to avoid slipping to 0-3.
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 2
Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames v ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 8.30pm
Willetton Tigers v Lakeside Lightning – Willetton Basketball Stadium 7.00pm
Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers v Print Sync South West Slammers – Active West Stadium 7.30pm
Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants v Texture WA Perth Redbacks – Niels Hansen Basketball Centre 7.30pm
CMTG East Perth Eagles v Prestige Honda Melville Cockburn Cougars – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v Bethanie Warwick Senators – HBF Arena 8.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Mandurah Magic – Ray Owen Sports Centre 8.30pm