THE Men’s SBL has had a week off from Easter Thursday to ANZAC Day but things get back off to a hot start with two games on Thursday afternoon setting the stage for nine more games in the competition across the weekend.
Easter Thursday provided some stunning results and scintillating basketball in the Men’s SBL with all the teams having now had Easter off to recharge with Round 7 getting underway with two traditional fixtures to commemorate ANZAC Day.
They will see the Perry Lakes Hawks face the Warwick Senators at Bendat Basketball Centre, and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns take on the Willetton Tigers at Ray Owen Sports Centre. Both games tip-off at 3pm.
That leads into three matches on Friday night with the Mandurah Magic facing the Perth Redbacks, the Joondalup Wolves battling the East Perth Eagles and Lakeside Lightning taking on the Rockingham Flames.
Then on Saturday night, the East Perth Eagles back up to host the Perry Lakes Hawks while the Rockingham Flames host the Cockburn Cougars and the South West Slammers play the Lakeside Lightning.
The Goldfields Giants also host the Geraldton Buccaneers in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night before both teams back up on Sunday in Geraldton with the return fixture.
The other Sunday game will see the Willetton Tigers play the Mandurah Magic at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
ANZAC Day in the Men’s SBL gets underway at Bendat Basketball Centre with what looms quite a contest between two on-fire teams with the Hawks hosting the Senators.
Perry Lakes lost its opening two games of the season but have now won five straight and the absence of Lochlan Cummings last week proved a non-issue as they beat Willetton by 17 points.
Warwick deserves to be happy with the way they are travelling too having now won three straight to be 4-2 heading into the clash with the Hawks.
The Senators only two losses have come away to Joondalup and Goldfields, with coach Mike Ellis going tall and long with his group this year and it so far paying dividends as they now see how they stack up with the reigning champs on ANZAC Day.
The other Men’s SBL clash on ANZAC Day takes place at Ray Owen Sports centre with the Eastern Suns hosting the Tigers.
Kalamunda comes into the game in good form coming off a win against East Perth with Josh Braun, Louis Timms, Ryan Blanchett and Logan Viskovich all coming off impressive performances.
The Tigers have been struggling a little of late having now lost their past three games, but with Damien Scott and Jackson Hussey in the backcourt now joined by returning captain Andrew Black, and with imports Mo Barrow and Marcanvis Hymon, they have too much talent to not get things back on track.
Newly married coach Steve Black will be hoping that happens as soon as Thursday against the Eastern Suns.
Friday night in the Men’s SBL then gets underway with the Magic and Redbacks locking horns at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
It’s a big game for both clubs with the Magic bouncing back for their second win of the season on Easter Thursday snapping a run of losing their past three games by a combined 129 points.
The Redbacks, meanwhile, have now lost their last couple to sit at 2-6 despite the 42-point outburst by Marshall Nelson last Thursday against the Senators.
With Mandurah 2-5 and Perth 2-6, it’s a big game for the winner to stay in touch with the top eight.
Also on Friday night, the Wolves and Eagles meet already for the second time this season this time at HBF Arena.
The Wolfpack will be looking to bounce back from their second loss of the season too having gone down to Rockingham last Thursday. East Perth, meanwhile, is coming off a loss to Kalamunda to sit at 4-4 ahead of the clash with the 6-2 Wolfpack at the Joondalup venue.
The last game to look at on Friday night takes place at Lakeside Recreation Centre between the Lightning and Flames.
Lakeside fell to its second loss of the season on Easter Thursday at the hands of Cockburn in the absence of Jarrad Prue, Jack Isenbarger and Michael Vigor.
The Lightning will face an uphill battle to bounce back on Friday night even on their home floor against a hot Flames team who is fresh off beating the Wolves at HBF Arena last Thursday to improve to 5-2 on the season having won their past three matches.
Saturday night’s Men’s SBL action sees East Perth have to back up from playing the Wolfpack on Friday to then hosting the defending champion Hawks at Herb Graham Recreation Centre. Perry Lakes will be coming off its ANZAC Day clash with Warwick.
Rockingham will also back straight up from its Friday clash with Lakeside by hosting Cockburn at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday night.
The Cougars have now won their past three matches after starting the season losing their first four. The key has been finding more help for superstar captain Gavin Field and last week against Lakeside, Matt Vinci, Seva Chan, Eric Milam, Jaarod Holmes and Jake Harris all played well.
After the slow start to the season, Cougars coach Adam Nener is happy that his group appears to be starting to click but he’s under no illusions about the challenge Rockingham will present.
“People are starting to understand their roles now and what to do, but it’s a long season and we’ve got two tough games coming up with Rockingham at Rockingham next week, and then we go to Kalgoorlie the week after. We can’t rest on this win, we need to keep working hard,” Nener said.
“They’re a tough outfit. We’ve played them already and in the first half we were down six or seven so we’re looking forward to the game.
“They’ve got a lot of firepower so we have to do some more research to see how we’re going to guard them and take it from there. But we certainly know they are a tough outfit and am looking forward to the challenge.”
The Slammers are back home to Eaton Recreation Centre to play their only game of the weekend on Saturday night, hosting the Lightning.
South West is still looking for its first win of the season but to try and make that happen against Lakeside, coach John Triscari will be desperate to have Brian Voelkel back to team back up with in-form trio Michael Lay, Tyler Livingston and Brody England.
Also on Saturday night, the Giants and Buccaneers are back in action having had the Easter Weekend off when they lock horns at Kalgoorlie’s Niels Hansen Basketball Centre.
The Giants coming into the game with a 4-3 record but their three losses have come against the Wolves and Flames, so they appear a greatly improved line-up so far in 2019 with the additions of Jay Bowie, Patrick Burke, David Humphries and Mayo Malek.
The Buccs have won their past two matches and still atop the table despite not having played for two weeks having amassed a 5-1 record with their only loss coming on the road at the expense of Perry Lakes.
That sets the stage for not only a fascinating battle for the Giants and Buccs in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night, but they back up on Sunday afternoon by playing the return fixture in Geraldton.
For Giants coach Wayne Creek, he is looking forward to the challenge against the Buccs but knows the key to handling the tricky fixturing is to try to keep the routine of the players as similar to normal as possible.
“It’s like any other road trip in a lot of ways and they are in the same boat, but normally on a road trip we’ll play Saturday night and then Sunday lunch. We actually get an extra four hours to play this time and we’re flying to Geraldton,” Creek said.
“We’ve watched game film and we’ll do our scouting as all teams do, and we’ll start throwing in certain aspects of what they’re going to do to us and how we think we can counter that. We’ll spend a lot of time doing that and then start focusing on key areas we need to improve on.
“We’ll have a tough training session on Thursday morning of doing everything we might encounter in a game situation. We are trying to simulate what we’re expecting from what we’ve seen, but in saying that you have to focus on your own game and your strengths.
“By training Thursday morning, we get an extra 12 hours from when we would normally train before playing Saturday night and then travelling. The key thing is that we stay in the same routine and the guys will do all the right things with ice baths, eating and drinking.
“We’ll try to keep that regular routine because for me that’s the biggest thing. When you try to get guys doing something different, it can throw everything out of sync.
“Managing 15 or 16 guys and keeping them in sync isn’t always easy and sometimes as a coach you’re more of a manager than anything, but we’ll just go through what we need to and have that same routine.”
Then also on Sunday afternoon, Willetton hosts Mandurah at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Tigers coming off playing Kalamunda on ANZAC Day while the Magic will have taken on the Redbacks on Friday.
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 7
ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Bendat Basketball Centre 3.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Willetton Tigers – Ray Owen Sports Centre 3.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Texture WA Perth Redbacks – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v CMTG East Perth Eagles – HBF Arena 8.30pm
Lakeside Lightning v Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames – Lakeside Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants v Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers – Niels Hansen Basketball Centre 7.30pm
CMTG East Perth Eagles v ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames v Prestige Honda Melville Cockburn Cougars – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 8.00pm
Print Sync South West Slammers v Lakeside Lightning – Eaton Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Willetton Tigers v Mandurah Magic – Willetton Basketball Stadium 2.00pm
Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers v Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants – Active West Stadium 4.00pm