A SEVENTH straight win for the Lakeside Lightning has them now on top of the Men’s SBL with two rounds remaining with the Joondalup Wolves, Geraldton Buccaneers, Rockingham Flames and Perry Lakes Hawks hot on their hammers while the battle for eighth spot remains fascinating.
Following Round 18 of the Men’s SBL season, five teams all remain in contention for top spot and in a fight over the top four positions after the Lightning won a seventh straight game and the Hawks a sixth in succession while the Flames split their weekend and the Buccs won a thriller over the Wolfpack.
There then remains a dramatic fight in three over seventh and eighth spots with the Eastern Suns further solidifying seventh position with two big wins while the Goldfields Giants split their road double and the Willetton Tigers won a third match in-a-row.
ROUND 18 SPOTLIGHT | GIANTS CLAIM CRUCIAL WIN OVER COUGARS
ROUND 18 SPOTLIGHT | LIGHTNING TURN IT ON AGAINST SLAMMERS
ANDREW BLACK | 200 SBL GAMES
ROUND 18 MEN’S SBL PREVIEW
JONO DIAZ | 200 SBL GAMES
LACKOVIC BEAMS WITH PRIDE OVER REDBACKS’ SPIRIT
SBL TRIO SHOULD BE ON RADAR OF NBL CLUBS
ROUND 17 MEN’S SBL RECAP
Round 18 in the Men’s SBL began on Friday night with five crucial matches including the Kalamunda Eastern Suns defeating the Cockburn Cougars 97-86, the Willetton Tigers defeating the Mandurah Magic 107-105 and the Perry Lakes Hawks beating the Perth Redbacks 103-82.
The Lakeside Lightning also won big 113-66 against the South West Slammers while the Rockingham Flames defeated the East Perth Eagles 96-71.
Then on Saturday night, the Willetton Tigers won a nail-biter over the Goldfields Giants 86-85 while the Geraldton Buccaneers won another thriller 85-82 against the Joondalup Wolves.
The Warwick Senators defeated the East Perth Eagles 102-72 with the Perry Lakes Hawks defeating the South West Slammers 93-87 and the Kalamunda Eastern Suns impressively beating the Rockingham Flames 89-71.
Then on Sunday afternoon at Wally Hagan Stadium, the Goldfields Giants snapped their losing streak beating the remarkably shorthanded Cockburn Cougars 111-91.
Following Round 18 in the Men’s SBL, the Lakeside Lightning are on top of the standings at 17-5 ahead of the Joondalup Wolves (18-6), Geraldton Buccaneers (16-6), Rockingham Flames (17-7) and Perry Lakes Hawks (17-7).
The Warwick Senators (15-8) are sixth and look likely to stay there ahead of the Kalamunda Eastern Suns (13-11), Goldfields Giants (12-12) and Willetton Tigers (12-12).
The Perth Redbacks (9-15), Cockburn Cougars (6-17), East Perth Eagles (6-18), Mandurah Magic (5-18) and South West Slammers (1-22) are out of the finals race.
ROUND 18 MEN’S SBL
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 97 defeated PRESTIGE HONDA COCKBURN COUGARS 86
The Kalamunda Eastern Suns continued their hot form and took another step towards their first playoff appearance since 2012 with an 11-point win over the Cockburn Cougars.
The Suns came into the round having won their past four matches and doing so even without key players Louis Timms and Logan Viskovich with Friday night their final home game of the regular season at Ray Owen Sports Centre.
Their opponents were a Cockburn team full of fighting spirit but well down on manpower in the absence of an import along with starting centre Jaarod Holmes and point guard Seva Chan.
Despite that, the Cougars came out strongly on Friday night with an impressive first quarter to go into the quarter-time break leading 28-23.
Cockburn continued that strong momentum too in the second quarter with both teams putting up 30 points which meant the Cougars went into half-time still leading 58-53.
But with what was at stake, Kalamunda couldn’t afford a slip up against a team out of the finals race and they did hold Cockburn to 10 points in the third term.
The Suns put up 17 points themselves and then scored 27 points to 18 in the last quarter to end up winning 97-86 to make it a fifth straight win to make another significant step towards a post-season appearance.
Still minus Louis Timms and Logan Viskovich with Ryan Blanchett joining them on the sidelines, Kalamunda’s import backcourt of Javion Blake and Louis Timms was once again brilliant.
Blake finished with 35 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds on shooting 13/21 from the field, 4/8 from deep and 5/7 from the foul line while Braun had 32 points, 16 rebounds and two assists on shooting 13/23 from the floor and 5/13 from three.
Corey Easley stepped up for an important 11 points and eight rebounds with Carl Aylett contributing nine points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals while captain Jono Diaz had four points, five steals and three rebounds as he became the first ever Eastern Suns player to reach 200 SBL games.
Gavin Field battled manfully once again for the Cougars against the tide with another 25 points and 12 rebounds while playing all but 1:40 of the game.
Julian Pesava added 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists with Cockburn while Hayden Bell produced 11 points, Matt Vinci nine points, Steven Van Lit six points and three rebounds, and Jakob Knight six points and three boards.
MANDURAH MAGIC 105 lost to WILLETTON TIGERS 107
The Mandurah Magic had been challenged after last week by coach Aaron Trahair and they did respond but couldn’t quite pull out the victory at home to the Willetton Tigers on Friday night.
Trahair was left lost for words the previous Friday night over his team’s last 33 minutes also at home to the Rockingham Flames where he was left questioning the commitment and attitude of some of his players.
He admitted he was as interested as anyone to see how they responded this Friday night back at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre, and he did get a significantly improved performance.
Willetton, though, had to keep winning to maintain their playoff hopes as they made the trip south and the Tigers started strongly with 27 points to 20 in the opening period.
But the Magic turned things around in the second term and delivered one of their most impressive quarters of the season to pile on 37 points to head into the half-time interval with a 57-54 lead against the Tigers.
With what was at stake, the Tigers had to respond and they did in the third quarter to regain the lead but it was always likely to be a game going down to the wire with the improved competitiveness shown by the Magic.
Willetton was still up six with six minutes to go after a basket to Mo Barrow and that soon became seven when captain Andrew Black knocked down a three in his 201st SBL appearance.
But suddenly with four free throws from Shaun Stewart and then a Jerami Grace triple, suddenly with four minutes remaining scores were all level.
A Jackson Hussey and-one play put Willetton back up four and then when Hussey scored again with 45 seconds remaining, the Tigers led by seven.
A couple of late Calvin Kamara triples and another from Stewart made things interesting late for the Magic, but Hussey free throws were enough for Willetton to claim the crucial 107-105 win for consecutive victories.
Mo Barrow had a big night for Willetton finishing with 30 points, eight rebounds, thee assists and two steals while Jackson Hussey also had 24 points, eight boards, two steals and two assists.
Damien Scott delivered another 20 points and seven rebounds with Connor Mincherton contributing 13 points and Andrew Black 12 points, five boards and four assists.
The pressure was on Mandurah’s import to improve after last week and they stepped up with Marvin Smith finishing with 34 points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
Shaun Stewart added 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists with Jerami Grace producing 18 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Travis Durnin 13 points, 10 boards, five assists and two blocked shots.
ID ATHLETIC PERRY LAKES HAWKS 103 defeated TEXTURE WA PERTH REDBACKS 82
The only hope the Perth Redbacks to still reach the playoffs in 2019 was to knock off their old teammate and the reigning champion Perry Lakes on Friday night, but the Hawks proved too strong winning by 21 points.
The Redbacks’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread coming into Round 18 and they needed to win their remaining three games to be any chance of still making it starting Friday night at Bendat Basketball Centre.
But the Hawks came into the game on a four-game winning run to put themselves in the hunt for a top four finish so they too need to continue their winning ways on Friday evening.
It was also the first game for Redbacks’ 2017 championship-winning star Shawn Redhage against his old team since joining the Hawks this season, and it was Perth who started strongly to lead 22-17 by quarter-time.
Perry Lakes turned it around with 28 points to 23 in the second term and that saw scores all locked away at 45-apiece by half-time.
While the game was right up for grabs at the major break, Perry Lakes proved too strong in the second half with 32 points to 23 in the third term, and 26 to 14 in the fourth to end up winning 103-82 to stay in the top four hunt and ending the playoff hopes of the Redbacks.
The Hawks decided to go small from the start with both Brian Carlwell and Kyle Sovine on the bench along with Tevin Jackson in his first appearance of the season.
Point guard Mitch Clarke ended up top-scoring for Perry Lakes with 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Ben Purser contributed 19 points, eight assists and four boards.
Rob Cassir added 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, Shawn Redhage 11 points and nine boards, Brian Carlwell 10 points and four rebounds, Kyle Sovine nine points and nine boards, and Ryan Smith eight points and six assists.
Marshall Nelson continued his stunning form for the Redbacks as he keeps on knocking down the door for another NBL contract. He finished with 34 points and eight rebounds while shooting 11/21 from the field and 7/7 from the foul line.
Lee Roberts added 21 points and nine rebounds for Perth, Zac Gattorna 12 points and four boards, and Joel Wagner eight points and eight assists.
LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 113 defeated PRINT SYNC SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 66
The Lakeside Lightning once again showed what they are capable of winning a seventh straight match in the Men’s SBL on Friday night as they hit 20 threes on the way to a 113-66 win over the South West Slammers.
Coming into the contest on a six-game winning run, the Lightning had to fight hard in the first quarter to work on top of the Slammers who had in some improved form in recent weeks.
Not only had the Slammers broken through for a win against the Giants, but they had put in strongly competitive efforts against the Wolves, Senators, Hawks, Cougars and Magic.
So Lakeside couldn’t afford to take anything for granted coming up against them on their home floor on Friday and the Lightning did only lead by four at the end of the opening quarter.
But the Lightning got going through the second quarter piling on 40 points as they started to shoot the lights out and the Slammers just couldn’t go with them especially when big man Terrell Carter was stuck sitting on the bench in foul trouble.
That saw the Lightning head into half-time in control leading 60-27.
The Slammers then did well in the third quarter to limit the damage and stick with the Lightning, but they couldn’t maintain that intensity and largely through bench players, Lakeside put up 32 more points to 18 in the fourth term to end up winning by a game-high 47 points.
It improves Lakeside to 17-5 on the season with four games over the last two rounds to come against Kalamunda, Perry Lakes, Rockingham and Geraldton.
South West has still won just one of 22 games this season and finish against the Hawks, Tigers, Buccaneers and Giants.
It was a terrific shooting night for the Lightning while they also pulled in 58 rebounds to 33 from the Slammers.
In the end, Jobi Wall nailed 7/9 from three-point range for Lakeside, Jack Isenbarger 4/5, Ben Lee 4/6, Liam Hislop 3/7, Michael Vigor 1/4 and Rowan Mackenzie 1/4.
The Slammers didn’t stop trying but just didn’t shoot the ball well with 27/80 at 33 per cent from the floor and 7/27 from deep at 25 per cent while getting to the foul line just seven times.
On the back of those seven three-pointers, Wall top-scored for the Lightning with 21 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Mackenzie added 19 points, four rebounds and three assists, Isenbarger 14 points, six boards and six assists, Lee 14 points, Hislop 13 points and four rebounds, Vigor 11 points and eight boards, and Jarrad Prue just the standard two points and 19 rebounds.
Despite the foul trouble limiting him to 24 minutes, Terrell Carter top-scored for the Slammers with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Tyler Livingston added 15 points and three assists, Mitch Keller nine points, six rebounds and three assists, James Allen nine points, three boards and three assists, and Michael Lay nine points, six rebounds and five assists.
CMTG EAST PERTH EAGLES 71 lost to SINCLAIR MCDONALD’S ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 96
East Perth couldn’t quite finish their home regular season on a winning note with the Rockingham Flames having too much to play for and maintaining their top four position with a 96-71 victory.
The game on Friday night was the last game of the season for the Eagles at Mirrabooka’s Herb Graham Recreation Centre, and East Perth actually started impressively to lead the playoff bound Rockingham 20-18 by quarter-time.
The Flames began to turn the tide in the second quarter with 24 points to 20 and then continued on with that in the third term with another 26 points to 21.
Rockingham only led 68-61 by three quarter-time but then dominated the last quarter with 28 points to 10 to rack up the 96-71 victory to further consolidated themselves in a top four position.
The Flames ended up pulling in 18 extra rebounds on the night than the Eagles while shooting 53 per cent from the field, 42 per cent from three and 60 per cent from the foul line.
East Perth only managed to shoot 33 per cent from the floor and 27 per cent from deep while getting to the foul line just eight times.
Greg Hire was instrumental in Rockingham’s win once more with 19 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists on 8/13 shooting.
Chudier Pal added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Flames with Caleb White contributing 15 points and three rebounds, Callum Beard 10 points and five boards, Jarryd Griffin 10 points, and Luke Roberts six points and six assists.
Anthony Golden top-scored for East Perth with 16 points, three rebounds and three steals with Cameron Williams contributing 12 points, three assists and three steals, Shaquille Maharaj 12 points and three steals, and Jordan Wellsteed eight points and five rebounds.
WILLETTON TIGERS 86 defeated NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 85
Coming off playing out a thriller seven days earlier in Kalgoorlie, the Willetton Tigers and Goldfields Giants again battled out over eighth position at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday night.
The Tigers had pulled off a nail-biting 89-84 win in Kalgoorlie last Saturday night and then backed it up with another narrow win on Friday in Mandurah to open Round 18.
That set up a tantalising match up with the Giants on Saturday night with Goldfields coming to town on a four-game losing streak with their playoff hopes starting to slip away.
That meant there was plenty at stake in the contest that saw both teams unable to be separated through the first half with the Giants only leading narrowly 37-35 at half-time.
But then the Giants pulled away in the second half going on a 10-0 run to open up a lead of 12 points before the Tigers responded and made a real game of it.
By the time Damien Scott continued his charge to 40 for the night by hitting another three early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers were only down three.
Threes to Patrick Burke and Brandon Holloway twice pulled the Giants back out by six in between a triple for Willetton from Jackson Hussey but with five minutes left, Goldfields still led by five after another Holloway three-pointer.
Burke stretched the lead back out to seven before Hussey kept the Tigers close with another from downtown. A layup from Scott made the margin two and then Hayden Noordhoek also got to the rack to tie scores up.
Burke converted an and-one play to put the Giants back up three with 1:30 remaining before Hussey brought it back to a one-point game. Holloway hit a free-throw to put Goldfields back up two before a Willetton timeout ahead of the last possession.
It was then quite the dramatic finish with Barrow scoring to tie scores. But then a foul went against the Giants and that sent Connor Mincherton to the line for the Tigers, where he made one to win the game.
It was a massive win in the context of the season with Willetton winning a third straight match to improve to 12-12 while the Goldfields lost a fourth straight match to slip to 11-12 ahead of Sunday’s clash with Cockburn.
Damien Scott had a monster game for Willetton with 41 points, seven rebounds and three assists while shooting 17/26 from the floor, 3/9 from deep and 4/6 from the charity stripe.
Jackson Hussey also delivered 20 points for the Tigers, Mo Barrow 12 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and four steals, and captain Andrew Black five points, 12 assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Patrick Burke further enhanced his MVP credentials with another 38 points, 11 rebounds and three assists for the Giants on an incredibly efficient 15/18 shooting from the field and 6/6 from the free-throw line.
Brandon Holloway added 16 points for Goldfields with Jerome Reid producing eight points and three rebounds, the returning Jay Bowie eight points, eight boards and seven assists, David Humphries six points, six boards and six assists, and Mayo Malek six points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
QUADRIO EARTHMOVING GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 85 defeated CHAMBERS FRANKLYN JOONDALUP CITY WOLVES 82
The Geraldton Buccaneers and Joondalup Wolves are both gearing up for yet another playoff campaign from top four positions, and last year’s top two teams at the end of the regular season put on a tremendous show on Saturday night.
Having already played out a terrific contest nearly two months ago at HBF Arena which the Wolfpack won by three points on their home floor, all signs pointed to another down to the wire affair on Saturday night at Active West Stadium.
The Wolves came into the clash in first place having won three of their previous five matches while the Buccaneers still sat third after splitting their road double-header the previous weekend with against the Flames and Redbacks.
The Buccaneers were playing their last home game of the regular season and started strongly with 26 points to 14 in the opening quarter. The Buccs then extended their advantage with 25 points to 19 in the second period to lead 51-33 at half-time.
But the Wolfpack were never going to go down without a fight and were just eight points down by three quarter-time and then only two points behind when Ridell Camidge opened the fourth period with successive three-pointers.
Rob Huntington dropped a three soon after to make it a one-point game before Trian Iliadis also hit from downtown to put the Wolves in front by two with 6:30 remaining.
Earnest Ross extended the lead to four against his team of 2018 and then he made it seven when he hit from long-range too.
When the Wolfpack led by eight with five minutes to go after another Iliadis three, they had all the momentum and looked unstoppable having turned that 18-point half-time deficit into their own eight-point lead.
But then Buccs young gun Alex Ducas showed how bright his future is and why they were keen for him to be allowed play in the playoffs this year. He added seven quick individual points to make the margin one before DeAngelo Isby put the home side on top at the free-throw line.
In response to a Ross jumper, Colter Lasher nailed one from downtown for the Buccs and then Isby hit another to end the deadlock on the last play of the game and give Geraldton the three-point win in a remarkable last quarter.
It’s a big win for the Buccs too ahead of finishing the regular season on the road to the Slammers, Magic, Lightning and Senators as they improve to a 16-6 record in third place.
The Wolves also slipped to second position with the loss at 18-6 with games to finish at home to the Cougars and Eastern Suns the last two rounds.
DeAngelo Isby again came off the bench for the Buccaneers and only played 23 minutes but he delivered 24 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Colter Lasher added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Geraldton, Liam Hunt 11 points, 10 boards, four assists and three steals, Alex Ducas 11 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Matt Wundenberg six points, eight boards and two assists.
Earnest Ross top-scored for the Wolfpack with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists with Trian Iliadis contributing 16 points and four assists, Ridell Camidge 14 points and four rebounds, and Rob Huntington eight points.
BETHANIE WARWICK SENATORS 102 defeated CMTG EAST PERTH EAGLES 72
The Warwick Senators had to start to turnaround their tough run of form of late at home to East Perth on Saturday night and they accomplished that in a 30-point victory.
After being the hottest team in the league for much of the first half of the season and still holding a 12-3 record at the start of June, the Senators started to struggle and coming into Saturday night’s clash they had lost five of their past seven matches.
That had all but ended their prospects of a top four finish on the season but they still needed to find some form again ahead of the playoffs and they ended up doing that at Warwick Stadium against the Eagles.
Warwick started the game well on their home floor with 27 points to 17 in the opening period before stretching the lead narrowly to take a 50-38 advantage into half-time.
East Perth stuck with Warwick in the third quarter but then the Senators built some confidence in the fourth period with 31 points to 12 to claim the 102-72 victory.
The win all but secures sixth position for the Senators at 15-8 while the Eagles have now lost their past five matches to hold a 6-18 record.
It was no coincidence that the improved form for the Senators coincided with the return of new Perth Wildcats signing Wani Swaka Lo Buluk, who produced 10 points, three assists and two blocked shots.
Caleb Davis top-scored for Warwick with 22 points and nine rebounds while Justin King added 20 points, 11 boards, three assists and three steals, Cody Ellis 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, and Ngor Manyang 14 points, four boards, three assists and three steals.
Anthony Golden scored 19 points to go with three steals for East Perth with Jarrad Anastasio showing encouraging signs for the future with 14 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Shaquille Maharaj added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists while Cameron Williams had nine points and three assists with Drew Williamson not hitting the floor due to an ankle injury.
PRINT SYNC SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS 87 lost to ID ATHLETIC PERRY LAKES HAWKS 93
The South West Slammers finished strongly and put a scare into the defending champions but the Perry Lakes Hawks held on for an important six-point win on Saturday night.
Both teams were coming off playing on Friday night with the Slammers needing to respond from a 47-point loss at Lakeside while the Hawks needed to keep their winning form going to stay in the top four race following a strong win over the Redbacks.
After struggling to stick with the Lightning the previous night, it was a vastly more competitive outfit from the Slammers back at Eaton Recreation Centre against the Hawks.
Perry Lakes only managed to lead by two points at quarter-time and six by half-time before opening up a bit more of a gap in the third quarter with 30 points to 25 before leading 77-66 at three quarter-time.
While Perry Lakes did end up leading by as much as 14 points, the Slammers wouldn’t go away but they couldn’t quite get closer than five points before the Hawks won 93-87.
The win is a sixth in-a-row for Perry Lakes as they improve to a 17-7 record with games remaining against Lakeside and Willetton as they try to break into the top four. The Slammers have now lost four straight again to be 1-22 but at least it was a significantly better showing.
Ben Purser continued to play some outstanding basketball leading the Hawks again with 22 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals on shooting 9/13 from the field.
Clint Steindl also returned for 17 points, five rebounds and four assists with Brian Carlwell contributing 17 points and eight boards, Shawn Redhage 13 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, and Kyle Sovine eight points.
After being hindered with foul trouble through much of his stint so far, Slammers big man Terrell Carter was finally able to stay on the floor and produced 31 points and eight rebounds as a result.
Tyler Livingston added 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals with Mitch Keller contributing 18 points and eight boards, and Michael Lay 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
SINCLAIR MCDONALD’S ROCKINGHAM FLAMES 71 lost to KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS 89
The hot form of the Kalamunda Eastern Suns continued in Rockingham on Saturday night as they won a sixth straight match beating the Flames by 18 points in impressive fashion.
The Eastern Suns took another significant step towards booking away their first playoffs appearance since 2012 backing up a win against Cockburn on Friday night to head to Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday night with a tremendous performance.
With the Giants and Tigers breathing down their necks, the Suns need to keep winning as well to ensure that finals appearance and they started strongly against the Flames with 21 points to 13 in the opening period.
Rockingham did steady things, though, to cut Kalamunda’s half-time lead to just 40-35.
But the Eastern Suns delivered an impressive second half outscoring the Flames 49 points to 36 to come away with the crucial and impressive 89-71 victory.
That means the Suns have now won six straight matches to improve to a 13-11 record on the season with matches remaining against the top two teams Lakeside and Joondalup.
Rockingham remains in fourth position despite the loss with a 17-7 record.
Both teams were well short of full strength too with the Flames minus Ryan Godfrey, Josh Ritchart and Luke Travers while the Suns were again without Louis Timms, Logan Viskovich and Ryan Blanchett.
The Suns won the game despite being outrebounded by 21 by the Flames but the shooting was the difference. Kalamunda went at 32/70 at 45 per cent from the field and 12/31 at 38 per cent from three while the Flames went at 27/84 at 32 per cent from the floor and 3/38 at seven per cent from beyond the arc.
Point guard Javion Blake was outstanding again for Kalamunda with 31 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals with fellow import Josh Braun delivering 22 points, six assists, three boards and two blocked shots.
Cooper Lowe stepped up without Timms, Blanchett or Viskovich with 15 points and six rebounds while Corey Easley contributed six points and seven boards, and Carl Aylett six points.
Greg Hire worked valiantly once more for Rockingham with another standout showing with 22 points, 23 rebounds and two assists.
Chudier Pal added 14 points and 10 rebounds, Brad Robbins 13 points, six boards, three assists and three steals, and Caleb White 10 points.
PRESTIGE HONDA COCKBURN COUGARS 91 lost to NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES GOLDFIELDS GIANTS 111
In order to reach the playoffs the Goldfields Giants couldn’t afford a slip up on Sunday afternoon at Wally Hagan Stadium and they produced their best performance in probably two months to deliver a crucial 111-91 victory.
The pressure was mounting on the Giants coming into Sunday’s game following a heartbreaking one-point defeat the previous evening to Willetton on the back of losing at home in another tight affair seven days earlier to the Tigers.
That saw them concede their position in the top eight to Willetton with the four successive losses and not quite having found their best form since an impressive three-game winning run back in May.
The Giants have gone 3-8 since then heading into Sunday’s tricky clash with a Cockburn team who might be down on manpower and be the least resourced team in the league, but continue to be well coached by Adam Nener and will never stop fighting.
Even if that means Gavin Field spends the game at centre and his frontcourt partners Julian Pesava, Jakob Knight and Matej Mandic are barely three men let alone equipped for the four or five spot, but that’s the card the Cougars have been dealt and they continue to fight bravely nonetheless.
So for Goldfields to get the win they’d have to earn it and with Jay Bowie still struggling with a sore knee and on minutes restriction, they needed others to step up too.
Mayo Malek and Jerome Reid combined to give the Giants the opening five points and it became a 7-2 opening with Patrick Burke scoring in the block. The visitors threatened to open the game up when Dave Humphreys hit a three to make it 15-7, but Gavin Field responded in kind for the Cougars.
But the Giants remained well in command soon lead 24-11 before the Cougars rallied to be just seven down at quarter-time.
Jake Harris hit a three early in the second term to make it a two-point game before Riley Duncan answered with a triple of his own for the Giants.
A three-point play from Julian Pesava had scores all tied up before Goldfields was back up three thanks to Brandon Holloway hitting from long-range.
A Humphries and-one play stretched their advantage back to six and when he was starting to regain some shooting confidence, his three put the Giants up by nine.
But the Cougars wouldn’t stop fighting and finished the half well to cut the Giants lead to just 52-49 at the main break with Bowie and the Giants coaching staff not quite seeing eye to eye on his playing time as he struggles with his sore knee.
However, the Giants got things back on track for the start of the third quarter and put together their best half of basketball for some time, running the undermanned Cougars off their legs and shooting impressively.
Successive threes from Humphries and Reid had the Giants back with some momentum midway through the third term and when Holloway connected from downtown and Humphries hit another, they were back up double-figures.
Bowie was starting to feel better too late in the third quarter, hitting five quick points and there would be no Cougars fight back this time with Goldfields going on with the job in the fourth term to win 111-91 on the back of a 59-42 second half.
It’s no surprise given how undersized the Cougars are but the Giants dominated the boards with 48 rebounds to 35 while sharing the ball well too for 30 assists on their 43 field goals.
Goldfields shot better too with 43/78 at 55 per cent from the field and 12/27 at 44 per cent from three. Cockburn battled hard shooting at 43 per cent from the floor and 35 per cent from three.
Patrick Burke kept up his MVP-calibre form for the Giants with another powerhouse performance made up of 33 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals while shooting 13/21 from the field and 7/8 from the foul line.
Dave Humphries got back to some impressive form too with 33 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals on 12/18 from the floor and 5/8 from deep.
Jay Bowie got through 17 minutes in his first weekend back in action for 12 points, four rebounds and three assists with Mayo Malek contributing 12 points and six rebounds, Jerome Reid eight points and six boards, and Brandon Holloway six points and six assists.
Gavin Field was superb for the Cougars, especially considering he played much of the game in the five spot, finishing with 33 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals while shooting 13/22 from the field and 5/10 from downtown.
Julian Pesava added 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Matej Mandic 11 points and three assists, Steven Van Lit 10 points and nine assists, Tom Atkinson six points and three rebounds, and Matt Vinci five points.
But they just didn’t have enough support. Seva Chan and Jaarod Holmes suiting up would have undoubtedly helped as would have the presence of an import or two, with that this would be a team with enough fighting qualities to be a playoff threat.