THERE is plenty to look out for in Round 3 of the Men’s SBL from Ben Purser reaching 300 games to the Lakeside Lightning, East Perth Eagles and Joondalup Wolves putting their unbeaten starts on the line on Friday.
Coming into Round 3 of the 2019 Men’s SBL season, the Geraldton Buccaneers, Joondalup Wolves, Lakeside Lightning and East Perth Eagles are all yet to taste defeat, but they each face significant challenges this weekend.
First up, the Eagles host the Wolves at Herb Graham Recreation Centre on Friday night while the Buccaneers face a road double against Kalamunda and Perry Lakes with the Lightning playing host to the Perth Redbacks on Friday.
On top of East Perth playing Joondalup and Lakeside hosting Perth on Friday night, the Willetton Tigers face the Kalamunda Eastern Suns at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
Then on Saturday night, the Cockburn Cougars play the Rockingham Flames, the South West Slammers host the Willetton Tigers, the Mandurah Magic play the Willetton Tigers, the Perth Redbacks battle the Perry Lakes Hawks, the Goldfields Giants are at home to the Warwick Senators and the Suns are home to the Buccs.
There’s a final game on Sunday from midday at Bendat Basketball Centre with Ben Purser bringing up 300 SBL games as the Hawks host the Buccaneers.
PURSER REACHES 300 ON BACK OF 2018 FAIRYTALE
UTLEY PUTS IT ON SUNS PLAYERS TO RESPOND STRONGLY
ROUND 2 MEN’S SBL RECAP
ROUND 2 SPOTLIGHT: MANDURAH ON THE BOARD WITH KALAMUNDA WIN
LACKOVIC PUMPED FOR FULL STRENGTH 2019 REDBACKS
STABILITY KEY TO ELLIS’ QUEST FOR SENATORS SUCCESS
There are three Friday night fixtures in the Men’s SBL in Round 3 starting at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Tigers hosting the Eastern Suns.
Both teams come into the round with one win under their belt with the Tigers having beaten Cockburn but losing to Lakeside while the Suns have split their games with Mandurah while losing at home to the Giants.
A 2-1 start for Willetton will be a good beginning as they blend in Jackson Hussey, Mo Barrow and Marcanvis Hymon, but Kalamunda will be desperate to not slip to 1-3 under new coach Mark Utley.
Utley was disappointed in his team’s second half last Saturday at home to Mandurah and is expecting a strong response from the Suns.
“You’d hope we get a strong response. We are playing Willetton down there and they are playing well,” Utley said.
“We need these guys to start responding otherwise we are looking at 1-3 and it would be a long way back if we continue to lose.
“Generally in my first year coaching teams, they are better in the second half of the season because it can take some time to fit in and gel. We just need to make sure we get it happening.”
Lakeside puts its unbeaten start to the season on the line also on Friday night hosting Perth at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Despite being without Jack Isenbarger and Michael Vigor so far, the Lightning have started impressively with wins against Mandurah and Willetton led by Rowan Mackenzie, Kyle Armour, Jobi Wall and Jarrad Prue.
They host a Redbacks team so far winless in 2019 with losses to Warwick and Goldfields but they will have Marshall Nelson for the first time this season on Friday night while still awaiting the arrival of imports Lee Roberts and Jourdan DeMuynck.
A 3-0 start for the Lightning would be tremendous for reigning Coach of the Year Dave Daniels but his counterpart Nik Lackovic will throw everything at not falling to 0-3.
The other game on Friday night takes place at Herb Graham Recreation Centre with the battle of undefeated teams, East Perth and Joondalup.
The Eagles have begun the new season impressively beating the Slammers and Cougars with new import Cameron Williams making an immediate impact while Drew Williamson continues to lead from the front and Sunday Dech was a welcome addition last week.
The Wolves, though, have had a dominant opening three games of the season beating the Hawks, Giants and Senators by an average of 22.7 points.
The return of Kevin Davis and additions of Earnest Ross and Ridell Camidge have worked a treat already with the core of Seb Salinas, Ben Ironmonger, Sean Easther, Trian Iliadis, Reece Maxwell and Rob Huntington all up and going early in 2019.
That all sets the stage for a terrific Friday night battle at the Mirrabooka venue and Wolfpack coach Ben Ettridge is expecting a tough challenge from the Eagles.
“They are lively and a tough match up because they don’t have that one true big, although if you believe the rumours floating around there might be one on the floor this weekend but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Ettridge said.
“But they are well coached, Sunday is a quality player, Drew Williamson is a quality vet, Donlagic gets after it, Jordan Wellsteed is a former player of ours and you always worry about those guys going up against their old team.
“They have a couple of young kids who really get after it and have played in state teams as well. We play the games for a reason and hopefully we get it more right than they do for 40 minutes.”
Saturday’s night of six games begins with the earlier starting contest at Wally Hagan Stadium between the Cougars and Flames.
Cockburn has lost its opening two games to the Tigers and Eagles but have put in competitive showings with Gavin Field leading from the front averaging 29.0 points and 14.0 rebounds.
The Cougars will go out and try to get their first win of 2019 hosting a Rockingham team that was disappointing in Round 1 losing to Geraldton by 16 points before bouncing back well at home last Friday beating Perry Lakes by 17.
Also on Saturday night, the Giants attempt to continue their impressive start to the season hosting the Senators at Niels Hansen Basketball Centre.
Goldfields did lose on the road to Joondalup in the opening round, but just by the eight points and outside of that they beat Kalamunda by 33 points and Perth by seven.
The Giants have shown some tremendous signs over the first two weeks as they attempt to consolidate that to improve to 3-1, but the Senators won’t be keen to hand them anything.
Warwick started the year hammering the Redbacks by 35 points before a 24-point defeat at the hands of the Wolves. Both teams have reason to go into the game confident and the winner will be feeling good about themselves three rounds in 2019.
The Slammers return to Eaton Recreation Centre on Saturday night having come back from Geraldton last week with their tails between their legs after a 50-point loss.
Coach John Triscari will have the Slammers ready to hit back hard, though, as they host a Willetton team who will have already taken on Kalamunda on Friday night to open Round 3.
Mandurah returns home on Saturday night to host East Perth with the Magic looking to back up an impressive second half performance at Kalamunda last Saturday night that set up their first win of the campaign.
The Magic will host an Eagles team coming off playing the Wolves on Friday night and coach Aaron Trahair is hopeful his group will find a way to perform well at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
“Even over the last couple of years we’ve struggled at home. I think I’ve only won two home games in two and-a-bit years so hopefully we can start getting that confidence at home. We do play better away which is very unusual especially for a young group,” Trahair said.
“Maybe they feel a little bit of pressure at home amongst family and friends, I don’t know, maybe I’ve underestimated that side of things. It would be nice to get a few wins at home because we do have some loyal supporters who stick by us especially the last couple of years without too many wins at home.
“Fingers crossed we can get on a bit of a roll and build some confidence to keep going on that path towards success. Whatever that is by the end of the year in regards to wins and losses, who knows but that’s exciting.”
Another game on Saturday with plenty at stake takes place at Belmont Oasis when the champions of the past two years, the Redbacks and Hawks lock horns.
Both teams are yet to taste victory entering Round 3 but the Redbacks will have already played on Friday night against the Lightning.
The Hawks will be playing their first game of the round with the defending champions to unveil Perth Wildcats championship winning sharpshooter Clint Steindl as they attempt to make up for disappointing losses to Joondalup and Rockingham by an average of 26.5 points.
The final game on Saturday night takes place at Ray Owen Sports Centre with Kalamunda playing host to the travelling Buccaneers.
The Eastern Suns will be coming off having played at Willetton on Friday while the Buccs play their first road game of the season after starting at home impressively with wins against the Flames and Slammers.
Sunday will then see both Perry Lakes and Geraldton back up playing on Saturday night with a midday tip-off at Bendat Basketball Centre.
The game doubles as the 300th appearance in the SBL for Perry Lakes co-captain and last year’s Grand Final MVP Ben Purser.
But he is just focused on the Hawks getting their season back on track after a tough opening two rounds.
“I’m not overly concerned given we have lost to two quality sides but you don’t want to have to rely on 12 straight games to finish the season again,” Purser said.
“I’d much rather be sitting in the top two, top four all year rather than clawing our way back. It’s not the end of the world but we would like to reverse that trend pretty quickly.
“We’ve had a couple of stinkers to open up which is really disappointing because I think we had a really good pre-season following on a great year last year. I was happy with how we played at the Blitz and even the first quarter against Joondalup we were matching them even though they shot it well.
“I then went off with that eye thing and the game got away from us, and then against Rockingham it was a whole different story. We were pretty poor defensively and they seemed pretty emotional with what was going on there, and came out and destroyed us.
“They shot the ball well and just played really well so now we want to get two wins this weekend to get back to level pegging.”
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 3
Willetton Tigers v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Texture WA Perth Redbacks – Lakeside Recreation Centre 8.30pm
CMTG East Perth Eagles v Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Prestige Honda Melville Cockburn Cougars v Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames – Wally Hagan Stadium 7.00pm
Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Niels Hansen Basketball Centre 7.30pm
Print Sync South West Slammers v Willetton Tigers – Eaton Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Mandurah Magic v CMTG East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks – Belmont Oasis 8.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers – Ray Owen Sports Centre 8.30pm
ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks v Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers – Bendat Basketball Centre 12.00pm