THE Warwick Senators have two chances to consolidate themselves in the Men’s SBL top four in Round 15 with a double-header against the Lakeside Lightning and Perry Lakes Hawks in a weekend full of fascinating match ups.
The Senators playing the Hawks on Friday night and the Lightning on Saturday are just two of the matches to look forward to in Round 15 of the Men’s SBL.
The Slammers have two chances for their first win of the season against the Cougars and Giants while the league-leading Wolfpack have two hotly anticipated battles with the Flames and Redbacks.
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Round 15 in the Men’s SBL begins on Friday night and there’s plenty of anticipation leading into the match ups including at Mike Barnett Sports Complex with the Rockingham Flames hosting the Joondalup Wolves.
The Warwick Senators also play the Perry Lakes Hawks in another tantalising match up at Warwick Stadium while the East Perth Eagles face the Mandurah Magic at Herb Graham Recreation Centre.
Saturday night then gets underway at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cockburn Cougars hosting the winless South West Slammers.
The Mandurah Magic are also at home to the Goldfields Giants while the Geraldton Buccaneers play host to the Willetton Tigers.
Then also on Saturday night, the Joondalup Wolves play the Perth Redbacks at HBF Arena in a rematch of the 2017 Grand Final while the Lakeside Lightning face the Warwick Senators at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
The last game of the night then sees the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in a must-win situation against the East Perth Eagles at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
The round concludes on Sunday at 11am with the South West Slammers hosting the Goldfields Giants at Eaton Recreation Centre.
Round 15 in the Men’s SBL gets underway on Friday night at Warwick Stadium with the Senators and Hawks locking horns.
Both teams reached the semi finals last year with Perry Lakes going on to win the championship while the Senators appear to have improved further this year with a longer and deeper squad, even minus Wani Swaka Lo Buluk at the moment who had been running the point.
The Senators come into Round 15 in third position at 13-4 following a good win over the Eastern Suns last week after losing in Geraldton the week before.
But Friday night is important for Warwick to maintain touch with the top two and hold an edge over the chasing pack in the top four, but it’s not going to be easy against Perry Lakes.
The Hawks did lose last Saturday night to the Giants in Kambalda, but welcome back Shawn Redhage to face the Senators while still being without Clint Steindl who is playing with the NBL Select Team currently in China.
Perry Lakes currently sits sixth at 11-7 but the difference between a loss and win is significant and is the difference between staying in touch with the top four or clinging to a spot inside the top eight.
Another Friday night contest takes place at Herb Graham Recreation Centre and while the Eagles and Magic are all but out of the playoff hunt, they won’t be short on motivation.
East Perth comes into the game having lost six straight matches to still be chasing that first win since Colin Driscoll officially replaced Adam Forde as head coach for the rest of the season.
But it’s been a tough run for the Eagles with two of those defeats at the hands of the Buccs including another to the third placed Senators, fifth placed Flames, eighth placed Tigers and ninth placed Redbacks.
They now look to get their sixth victory of the season up against a Magic team that did beat the Slammers last Friday and fought bravely against the Wolves 24 hours later despite still being without superstar guard Shaun Stewart.
It’s a good chance for both teams to show what they’re capable of.
The last game of Friday night takes place at Mike Barnett Sports Complex with the Flames hosting the Wolfpack.
No Greg Hire being there for Rockingham might take some of the spice out of the rivalry while he is still in Amsterdam with Australia’s 3×3 FIBA World Cup squad, but Brad Robbins will play his first game for the Flames against the Wolves who he won a championship with in 2011.
Rockingham has been without Caleb White the last two games since he hurt his lower leg late in the win against the Magic so they will be sweating on his fitness this week if they hope to knock off the Wolves and maintain touch with the top four.
But the Wolfpack come into the game on a seven-game winning streak to be two wins clear on top of the standings and that was even without Earnest Ross in two of their past three games.
The first game of Saturday night then takes place at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cougars hosting the Slammers.
It might be another game featuring two teams out of the playoff hunt, but once more that’s not going to stop them throwing everything at the win.
The Cougars deserve to be feeling good too coming off a thrilling win over the Perth Redbacks last Saturday night and three of their four victories this season have been on their home floor.
The Slammers, meanwhile, could see this as a genuine chance of getting their first win of the season under coach John Triscari.
With Terrell Carter settling in nicely and Michael Lay leading the way, if the Slammers get good output from Tyler Livingston and then the likes of Mitch Keller, Cory Richardson and youngsters Brody England, Lucas Goff and James Allen, then a win’s not out of the question.
The Giants then begin their double-header down south on Saturday night up against a Mandurah team coming off playing East Perth on Friday evening.
Goldfields is coming off a good win in Kambalda over Perry Lakes which snapped a three-game losing run to keep them solid inside the top eight. Now despite the long trip, they will be looking to get their double-header off to a perfect start in Mandurah on Saturday night.
Also on Saturday night, the Buccaneers are back home at Active West Stadium to play host to the surging Tigers.
Willetton hits the bus trip on a two-game winning run and having won five of their past six matches despite still being undermanned, including a potentially season-ending foot injury to import Chris Galbreath.
But their good run now sees them inside the top eight entering Round 15 with former Buccs pair Mo Barrow and Jackson Hussey leading the way along with Damien Scott and Andrew Black while Scott Elder, Connor Mincherton and Dylan Hampson are among the unheralded players standing tall.
However, winning in Geraldton could well be their biggest challenge yet with the Buccs on fire since the arrival of new import DeAngelo Isby. The Buccaneers have won five straight to come into the round in second position at 13-4, and having won nine of 10 games at home this season.
Tigers coach Stephen Black knows it’s a big ask for his team, especially inside for Scott Elder to continue to battle manfully against Matt Wundenberg and Liam Hunt, but he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I thought that we played them real well at home and we just lost a bit of legs in the end having played a really good game the night before. I was really proud of that and I thought we were right there with them,” Black said.
“But Isby was just a bit much for us in the end, he’s a hell of a player. We’ll do what we’ve been doing every game over the last six weeks, we’ll rock out there and do our thing, and hope that it’s enough.”
Then also on Saturday night, it’s a rematch of the 2017 Grand Final with the Wolfpack hosting the Redbacks at HBF Arena.
The Wolves enter the round clear on top of the table but will have already played in Rockingham on Friday night while it’s a huge game in the context of the season for the Redbacks.
Despite the brilliant form of Mashall Nelson, they lost twice last weekend to the Tigers and Cougars to fall to ninth position with an 8-11 record.
Another loss on Saturday night will make it harder for them to break back into a playoff spot but they are likely to play 2017 Grand Final MVP Lee Roberts even though he can’t qualify for the finals.
He immediately makes the Redbacks look a stronger team with Nelson, Joel Wagner, Majier Garang and Zac Gattorna their biggest contributors so far in 2019.
In the past four matches against Lakeside, East Perth, Willetton and Cockburn, Nelson has been simply unstoppable putting up 38.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists but it’s more than that, he’s shooting at a tremendously efficient clip as well despite the opposition focusing their defence on him.
Coming off losing the past three games, the Redbacks are still in the playoff hunt heading into a clash this Saturday night against the league-leading Joondalup Wolves at HBF Arena.
Nelson is confident things can begin to click better for the Redbacks particularly if Grand Final MVP Lee Roberts is cleared to play.
“We just have to stay positive and hopefully we have Lee coming back this week so that will help out a lot, especially going on towards playoffs. He has been here for about two weeks and we can’t wait for him to be able to play,” Nelson said.
“Obviously he will be a really good asset for our team and we’re kind of missing that inside presence right now. He’ll be the perfect guy for us to bring in at the offensive and defensive end right now.
“I don’t think he can play the nine games to qualify for the playoffs now so we won’t have him for that, but we definitely want him for up until then.”
There’s another massive game on Saturday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre with the Lightning hosting the Senators.
Lakeside is making its only appearance of the weekend and come into the round on a two-game winning to maintain pace with the top four at 12-5. A win over the Senators and they could even end the round in one of the top four positions.
Warwick will be coming off playing host to the Hawks on Friday night so that could have a big say in how they show up on Saturday against the Lightning in a potentially season-defining game for both outfits.
The final game of Saturday night takes place at Ray Owen Sports Centre between the Eastern Suns and Eagles.
East Perth will be coming off playing host to the Magic on Friday night while it’s the only game of the weekend for Kalamunda and it’s a must-win affair.
Despite the good basketball they’ve played this year and how good they can look with stars Louis Timms, Josh Braun and Javion Blake, and impressive role players Ryan Blanchett, Logan Viskovich, Carl Aylett and Corey Easley, they haven’t got the wins on the board they perhaps would think they would have.
It’s a better looking outfit than 7-11 suggests and it’s hard to imagine they won’t get it all together at some stage, but right now they have lost their past three games and are fighting an uphill battle to reach the playoffs. That makes a loss unacceptable against East Perth.
The last game of the round takes place with an 11am tip-off at Eaton Recreation Centre between the Slammers and Giants.
The earlier start allows for the Giants to get back to Kalgoorlie at an acceptable hour but they won’t want to have any sort of a slip up in what looms as a real danger game for them against the Slammers.
Both teams will be tired too having played Saturday night with the Slammers at Cockburn and Giants at Mandurah.
MEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 15
Bethanie Warwick Senators v ID Athletic Perry Lakes Hawks – Warwick Stadium 8.30pm
CMTG East Perth Eagles v Mandurah Magic – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 8.30pm
Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames v Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 8.30pm
Prestige Honda Melville Cockburn Cougars v Print Sync South West Slammers – Wally Hagan Stadium 7.00pm
Mandurah Magic v Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 7.30pm
Quadrio Earthmoving Geraldton Buccaneers v Willetton Tigers – Active West Stadium 7.30pm
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v Texture WA Perth Redbacks – HBF Arena 8.00pm
Lakeside Lightning v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Lakeside Recreation Centre 8.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Schweigen East Perth Eagles – Ray Owen Sports Centre 8.30pm
Print Sync South West Slammers v Northern Star Resources Goldfields Giants – Eaton Recreation Centre 11.00am