THERE are four teams left in the Men’s SBL with precious little between them and each deserves to feel they can win the championship but now after Game 1 of their semi-final series’ the Geraldton Buccaneers and Joondalup Wolves are one step closer to a Grand Final appearance.
The number of quality teams in the Men’s SBL of 2019 has made it a tremendously high standard of competition and that was evident in the quarter finals.
Even though the Joondalup Wolves, Lakeside Lightning and Perry Lakes Hawks won in two games, the Kalamunda Eastern Suns, Goldfields Giants and Rockingham Flames deserved to be proud of the seasons they put together.
Then the Geraldton Buccaneers took three games to overcome the Warwick Senators so the stage was all set for two tantalising semi-final matches.
SEMI FINALS GAME 1 SPOTLIGHT | WOLFPACK HOLD HOME COURT AGAINST HAWKS
HAWKS WINNING MOMENTUM REMINISCENT OF 12 MONTHS AGO
BUY IN OF THREE NEW FACES INSTRUMENTAL FOR WOLFPACK
PRUE’S LIGHTNING SEASON WON’T BE DEFINED BY CHAMPIONSHIP
PLENTY OF BITE LEFT IN SBL’S ULTIMATE COMPETITOR
Both Game 1 battles took place on Saturday night and now it’s the Buccaneers and Wolfpack one game away from a Grand Final appearance in 2019.
The Buccs held home court at Active West Stadium beating the Lakeside Lightning 79-68 with the Lightning to now host Game 2 on Saturday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre and then Game 3 on Sunday should they win that.
Then the Grand Final rematch got underway at HBF Arena and it sure didn’t disappoint with Perry Lakes twice coming back from double-digit deficits to have a chance at the death but the Joondalup Wolves held on for the 81-77 victory.
Game 2 will now be on Saturday night at Bendat Basketball Centre and should Perry Lakes win that, Game 3 will be back at HBF Arena on Sunday.
MEN’S SBL SEMI FINALS – WEEK 1
QUADRIO EARTHMOVING GERALDTON BUCCANEERS 79 defeated LAKESIDE LIGHTNING 68
The Geraldton Buccaneers and Lakeside Lightning were always going to take part in a tantalising semi-final match up as they chase a return to the Grand Final, and it took the Buccs until the fourth quarter to pull away on home turf on Saturday night to take the one-nil lead.
With the Buccs not having reached a Grand Final since 2014 nor won a championship since 2000 and the Lightning having also not been there since the 2013 triumph, the two proud clubs are desperate to advance in the rematch of the 2014 semi-final match up.
The Lightning finished the season in second position at the end of the regular season before beating the Goldfields Giants in two games as they now prepared for their second road trip in three weeks during the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Buccs geared up for yet another playoff campaign from third position before then needing three games to beat the Warwick Senators in the quarter finals while parting ways with DeAngelo Isby after the Game 1 win at Warwick Stadium.
That all set the tone for the semi-final contest and for three quarters precious little separated the two teams on Saturday night in Geraldton.
The Buccs led narrowly 22-20 by quarter-time and it remained virtually basket for basket through the second quarter with the Buccs heading into half-time leading 43-42 following a late basket from 18-year-old gun Alex Ducas.
Nothing more than one score separated the teams during the third quarter too and scores were all locked up at 57-57 by three quarter-time.
But then to start the third quarter, Aaron Ralph scored five quick Geraldton points and then when Marcus Alipate added a triple to make it an eight-point margin for the Buccs which would prove a match-winning lead.
The Buccaneers went on to win the game 79-68 to take the one-nil lead with Game 2 now this Saturday night at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
Colter Lasher came up big once again for the Buccs with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Marcus Alipate is back healthy again and produced 18 points and four assists including hitting 3/6 from three-point territory.
Aaron Ralph also hit three triples on his way to 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Geraldton while Liam Hunt produced 10 points and three boards despite battling foul trouble all night.
Alex Ducas also had eight points and three assists, and Mat Wundenberg four points, 11 rebounds and two assists.
The Lightning just had a shooting night to forget going 3/25 at 12 per cent from downtown but Jarrad Prue still led the way in inspirational fashion with 15 points, 18 rebounds and three steals.
Kyle Armour finished with 14 points and four assists for Lakeside, Michael Vigor 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots, Jack Isenbarger 10 points and three boards, Jobi Wall seven points and six rebounds, and Rowan Mackenzie seven points and two assists.
CHAMBERS FRANKLYN JOONDALUP CITY WOLVES 81 defeated ID ATHLETIC PERRY LAKES HAWKS 77
The Joondalup Wolves caught fire early to be up 15 and then again led by 10 with 1:30 left but the Perry Lakes Hawks soon were within one pass connecting on snatching the lead before the Wolfpack held on to win 81-77 in a cracking semi-final Game 1 at HBF Arena.
The series had all the hallmarks of being a cracker and it’s only fitting that after last year’s Grand Final, they now get to meet in a three-game series this time with a spot in the Grand Final on the line.
On their home floor, the Wolfpack made a blistering start and hit the first nine points of the game before leading by 15 points with four minutes left in the half.
But Perry Lakes then made its first comeback of the night, even missing Perth Wildcats sharpshooter Clint Steindl, and by half-time were only a point down on the back of a 16-2 run.
That set the stage for a tight and dramatic second half and Perry Lakes even took the lead briefly with four quick Brian Carlwell points. But within minutes the Wolves were back up by four after Trian Iliadis hit from downtown.
Iliadis hit four more quick points heading into three quarter-time to ensure the Wolves led 59-53 which became 62-53 when he drained another three to open the fourth term.
But Tevin Jackson kept Perry Lakes close and then Kyle Sovine nailed a triple to make it a one-point ball game once more. The Wolfpack then again pulled away thanks to Kevin Davis to lead by nine but again Perry Lakes responded, this time through Ben Purser to close to within five.
That’s when things really went up another level. Rob Huntington drained one from deep to put the Wolves up 10 with two minutes left and they still led by 10 with a Ben Ironmonger finger roll with 1:30 on the clock.
But Perry Lakes then went into a press up the floor forcing two quick turnovers from which Ryan Smith and Sovine hit three-pointers. Soon after Smith hit two free-throws and it was a two-point game with just over 30 seconds left.
Huntington would miss an open three when attempting to seal the game only for Smith to grab the board for Perry Lakes and on the break they had a great chance at the potential winning shot, but Redhage’s pass went to where he thought the shooter was, or should have been.
Instead it went out of bounds and Game 1 was done and it set the tone for a cracking rest of the series.
By the end of the night not much separated the teams as is often the case when it comes down to the last seconds. The Wolves did shoot a little better at 44 per cent to 38 from the field while going 10/31 from deep opposed to the Hawks’ 12/29.
Joondalup did end up in front on the rebound count by six but they had 21 turnovers from which Perry Lakes scored 25 points from.
The Hawks also had 22 assists on 29 made field goals, but ultimately the energy it took for Perry Lakes to overcome double-digit deficits throughout the night took its toll.
While their full-court press late gave them a shot, ultimately the Wolfpack stood up for the four-point win leading into Game 2 at Bendat Basketball Centre on Saturday night.
The Wolfpack got plenty of contributions across the night with Ridell Camidge catching fire in the first half and finishing with 15 points while Trian Iliadis took over in the second for 14 points.
Ben Ironmonger had an impressive night too for 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots with Kevin Davis battling had inside with 13 points, 11 boards, three steals and two assists.
Seb Salinas chimed in with nine points and three assists, Rob Huntington seven points and seven rebounds, and Earnest Ross six points, eight boards, four assists and two steals.
Tevin Jackson was the man to step into the starting line-up for Perry Lakes in the absence of Clint Steindl due to back spasms late in the training week with the Perth Wildcats. Jackson provided eight points, three rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes.
Kyle Sovine came off the bench to top-score for the Hawks with 16 points and five rebounds including nailing 4/7 from three-point range.
Ben Purser added 15 points, five rebounds and four assists while Ryan Smith contributed 10 points, five boards and four assists, Mitch Clarke 10 points and three assists, Brian Carlwell nine points and eight rebounds, and Shawn Redhage seven points, eight boards, four assists and two steals.