ROUND 3 in the Women’s SBL features plenty of fascinating early season match ups perhaps highlighted by a double for the Perth Redbacks against the champions of the past two years, the Lakeside Lightning and Perry Lakes Hawks.
The Redbacks started life under new coach Craig Allen with a loss at home to the Warwick Senators before a Round 2 bye.
Now it’s quickly back to reality up against the Lakeside Lightning at Lakeside Recreation Centre on Friday night and then returning to Belmont Oasis on Saturday to face the Perry Lakes Hawks 24 hours later.
There are two other games on Friday night with two winless teams, the Willetton Tigers and Kalamunda Eastern Suns, battling at Willetton Basketball Stadium while the East Perth Eagles host the Joondalup Wolves at Herb Graham Recreation Centre.
There are then three other matches on Saturday night starting at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cockburn Cougars hosting the Rockingham Flames.
The South West Slammers are also hosting the Willetton Tigers while the Mandurah Magic are at home to the East Perth Eagles.
Round 3 begins on Friday night starting at Willetton Basketball Stadium with both the Tigers and Suns looking for their first wins of the campaign.
Willetton is still awaiting the arrival of its two imports and have lost their opening two matches to Cockburn and Lakeside, while Kalamunda has lost both its matches to the Mandurah Magic by a combined three points.
The Suns will have felt they were only a possession away in each game from being 2-0 right now but the fact remains both them and the Tigers come into Saturday’s clash at 0-2 and determined to not lose a third straight game to open 2019.
Eastern Suns coach Tom Knowles hopes his team learns plenty from last Saturday’s one-point home loss to the Magic.
“We’ll learn from this weekend. We did learn a lot from the first game but probably not as much as I’d like because we didn’t get the video until it was really too late to do anything with,” Knowles said.
“But we had that straightaway this week so we could prepare from Tuesday to analyse what we did wrong and could do better. This week was good for us because we could make a lot of adjustments and the girls are reasonably happy with the effort, other than the areas we fell short in.”
The Lightning and Redbacks finished 2018 as the top two teams at the end of the regular season and now will meet for the first time in 2019 on Friday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
The Lightning have started their championship defence impressively with wins against Mandurah and Willetton with Ali Schwagmeyer still in the line-up along with Ash Grant and new arrivals GeAnna Luaulu-Summers and Ellyce Ironmonger.
The Redbacks started their season with a Round 1 loss to the Senators and then had the Round 2 bye so they are back in action on Friday night with coach Craig Allen having a vastly new-look team with Lauren Mansfield yet to debut and Rosie Deegan settling in.
Jess Hughes has made a tremendous comeback from her knee reconstruction suffered late last season and will play her 100th SBL game Friday night against the Lightning.
Lakeside come into the game on a 19-game winning run but Perth will be determined to make an early season statement.
The other Friday night game takes place at Herb Graham Recreation Centre with the Eagles hosting the Wolves.
East Perth might have lost its opening two games of the season to the Slammers and Cougars by an average of 27 points to now be on a 34-game losing run dating back to 2017, but the Eagles have shown some encouraging signs of improvement.
Stacia Muparutsa is coming off 18 points and seven rebounds against Cockburn while Cameron Flynn scored 23 points against South West while new import Janee Johnson is averaging 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
But the Eagles face a significant test against the Lady Wolfpack who have started life under Charles Nix with wins over the Hawks and Senators.
Even without Georgia Denehey against Warwick, the arrivals of Amber Land, Isabelle Miotti, Kayla Steindl and Mikayla Pirini have turned the Wolves into a powerful force already in 2019.
Saturday night begins with the early starting fixture at Wally Hagan Stadium between the Cougars and Flames.
Both teams are undefeated so far to start the season with the Cougars having beaten Willetton and East Perth as they attempt to return to finals action in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Flames had the bye in Round 1 but started impressively last Friday beating the Hawks at home by 13 points.
Despite no Darcee Garbin, Maddie Allen and Christina Boag dominated inside combining for 27 points and 27 rebounds giving the Cougars a big job in the front court to match them particularly in the absence of captain Vanessa Michael.
The Tigers then have a short turnaround from hosting Kalamunda on Friday night to travelling to Eaton Recreation Centre to play the Slammers on Saturday night.
The Slammers started life under new coach Nathan Grover beating the East Perth Eagles before the Round 2 bye. Now they look to go to 2-0 hosting a Tigers team coming into Round 3 looking for their first victory.
Life doesn’t get any easier for East Perth on Saturday night either. After playing the Wolves on Friday, the Eagles travel to Mandurah to take on the Magic 24 hours later.
Mandurah has gone 2-1 over the opening two rounds with a pair of wins over Kalamunda and a loss to Lakeside in a Grand Final rematch.
The Magic haven’t yet been at full strength but with Carly Boag, Ginka Palusna and Bree Klasztorny all sitting with coach Craig Watts on the bench at Kalamunda last Saturday, it appears only a matter of time until they are all up and running.
The last game of the round takes place at Belmont Oasis and looks set to be another cracker between the Redbacks and Hawks.
The Redbacks will be coming off playing the Lightning on Friday night while the Hawks are playing their only game of Round 3 looking for their first win of 2019.
Perry Lakes has started the season with losses to Joondalup and Rockingham, but after starting slowly in 2018 and only just sneaking into eighth place, they will be desperate to not open the new campaign going 0-3.
Rebecca Benson is coming off 27 points and six rebounds last week for Perry Lakes against Rockingham Flames as she prepares to play for the first time for the Hawks against the Redbacks, where she most recently played for in 2016 and 2017 as she approaches 200 SBL games.
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 3
Willetton Tigers v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Willetton Basketball Stadium 6.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Texture WA Perth Redbacks – Lakeside Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Schweigen East Perth Eagles v Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 6.30pm
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars v Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames – Wally Hagan Stadium 5.00pm
Print Sync South West Slammers v Willetton Tigers – Eaton Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic v Schweigen East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Texture WA Perth Redbacks v Perry Lakes Hawks – Belmont Oasis 6.00pm