WITH Mark Worthington and Ricky Grace joining the coaching ranks, Greg Hire, Shawn Redhage, Cody Ellis, Luke Travers and Wani Swaka Lo Buluk among those playing again, it’s shaping up as quite the exciting 2020 Men’s SBL season.
Just taking a look at the coaching ranks full of NBL greats with Worthington in charge at the South West Slammers, Grace joining Aaron Trahair at the Mandurah Magic, Steve Black still coaching Willetton, Mike Ellis back again at Warwick, and there’s going to be no shortage of big names on the sidelines.
Then you have former Perth Wildcats greats Hire and Redhage playing again for Rockingham and Perry Lakes once more, former Sydney and Illawarra forward Cody Ellis is back with the Senators too and so are Wildcats young guns Travers (Cockburn) and Lo Buluk (Warwick).
That’s only just the start of what will make for a fascinating 2020 season, not to mention that not having Ben Ettridge and Nik Lackovic on the sidelines coaching is going to make for quite the change too.
Round 1 of the 2020 SBL season begins on Saturday March 14 with the Geraldton Buccaneers beginning their championship defence hosting the Goldfields Giants. The Giants then back up the very next day playing the Cockburn Cougars at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The rest of the league start their seasons the following week starting on Friday March 20 with the Perth Redbacks hosting the Perry Lakes Hawks, and then the East Perth Eagles facing the Mandurah Magic.
Then on Saturday March 21, the Willetton Tigers open Willetton Basketball Stadium against the Warwick Senators while the Magic host the Kalamunda Eastern Suns. The Giants return home to play the Joondalup Wolves while the Buccs also play host to the Cougars.
The Perry Lakes Hawks also face East Perth with the Lakeside Lightning playing the Slammers, and Rockingham taking on Perth Redbacks.
The Geraldton Buccaneers produced a stunning Grand Final performance, saving their best for last having needed three games in each of the first two rounds against Warwick and Lakeside to advance.
But they were brilliant in the Grand Final to beat the Wolfpack and win the club’s first championship since 2000. From that team, Brayden Inger, Aaron Ralph and Mat Wundenberg are back but there’s plenty of changes.
Kyle Roach and Shaun Stewart are on board as the new imports, with Stewart having spent the past two seasons in Mandurah.
Xavier Shaw and Zach Te Puni look to be significant inclusions too but Grand Final MVP Liam Hunt along with championship winners Brendan Dinardo, Marcus Alipate, Colter Lasher and Alex Ducas will take replacing.
Something had to give at the Joondalup Wolves after losing a fourth successive Grand Final and there has been changes galore at the Wolfpack starting with the departure of long-time head coach Ben Ettridge.
Imports Ridell Camidge and Kevin Davis are also gone from the Wolves along with Earnest Ross and Damian Matacz. Makinde London, Roddric Ross and Joel Vaiangina are all new to the league as is new coach, and general manager, Andrew Summerville.
The Lightning did a lot right in 2019 but a knee injury to Kyle Armour set them back and they couldn’t quite get the job done in Game 3 of the semi finals on their home floor against the Buccs.
But for coach Dave Daniels, there was little reason to change much and really outside of welcoming Jay Bowie to replace Jobi Wall, it’s going to be a largely similar group for the Lightning in 2020.
The other team to lose in the semi finals in 2019 was the Perry Lakes Hawks in a thrilling three-game series against the Wolfpack.
The Hawks have new imports in the form of Brachon Griffin and Mike Parks Jr while they will have Shawn Redhage from the start of the season this time around and it remains to be seen if Perth Wildcats star Clint Steindl suits up again.
The Rockingham Flames were a better team than a first round finals loser last season but when they were pitted against Perry Lakes in the quarter finals, there’d always be one hard luck story.
Ryan Petrik is now coming into his second season as coach and the Flames have welcomed Robert Heyer along with Jackson Hussey and Travis Durnin. They add some firepower to a group still anchored by Josh Ritchart, Greg Hire, Ryan Godfrey and Justin Beard.
The Warwick Senators looked a genuine championship threat for a lot of 2019 but they ended up slipping to finish sixth and lost in three games of the quarter finals to eventual champions Geraldton.
But again, Mike Ellis has a core group that is so close to breaking through and he’s again welcoming back the likes of Cody Ellis, Justin King, Ash Litterick and Caleb Davis while point guard Corban Wroe is back, they’ll still have Wani Swaka Lo Buluk and they have added Edward Hardt as a new import.
Mark Utley did a tremendous job at the Eastern Suns to get them to the playoffs last season, but he was desperately unlucky when they got there to go into the quarter finals against the Wolfpack minus Josh Braun and Louis Timms.
It was still a season with plenty of positives but now the Suns have two new imports with Albert Almanza and Tevin Bellinger. Jermaine Malie adds depth in the guard position but a lot will depend on how much of an impact their two imports have.
The Willetton Tigers narrowly missed finals in 2019 and now get to play inside the newly renovated Willetton Basketball Stadium in 2020 with Steve Black remaining at the helm as coach.
The arrival of last year’s superstar from the Goldfields Giants Patrick Burke is a massive signing for the Tigers to make them an immediate threat while Lewis Thomas will form a potent frontcourt with him after lack of bigs was their biggest issue last year.
It’s the start of a whole new era at the Perth Redbacks following the departure of championship winning coach Nik Lackovic.
A familiar face in CJ Jackson takes over and has brought his son with him along with Brian Carlwell from the Hawks. Last year’s Rockingham guard Caleb White has also joined the Redbacks but Marshall Nelson and Lee Roberts will be tough to cover.
The Cockburn Cougars also have a new coach with Andrew Cooper receiving his chance at SBL level. Adding an import JT Harris and young gun Luke Travers to a team still built around Gavin Field, Jaarod Holmes and Seva Chan should ensure their competitiveness.
To say it’s been an eventful summer for East Perth would be an understatement. The Eagles did sign long-time Wolves coach Ben Ettridge, but that relationship didn’t last and now rookie coach Luke Coburn is at the helm.
He’s done a significant apprenticeship with the Senators but former Wolves players Brian Sullivan, Kevin Davis, Chris Clausen and Bailey Basso all signed expecting to play under Ettridge.
But Coburn will look to bring the group together and while they only won six games in 2019, even replacing Drew Williamson, Cameron Williams, Jermaine Malie and Jordan Wellsteed won’t be easy.
There’s great excitement around the Mandurah Magic with a coaching staff featuring NBL greats Aaron Trahair and Ricky Grace. Grace’s son Jerami will be with the Magic too along with Jarrett Gray and Ben Smith.
But the Magic have suffered some significant losses in the form of Shaun Stewart and Travis Durnin.
Then there is the South West Slammers. NBL and Boomers legend Mark Worthington has returned to Bunbury and takes over as coach so instantly that gives them a significant boost.
How it translates to improving on a one-win season remains to be seen. They have signed Jay Washington as one import to date while welcoming Damon Moore and Rivar Evans. But losing Michael Lay hurts.
Coach: Andrew Cooper (1st season)
Last year: 7-19 (11th)
In: JT Harris (restricted), Noah Stewart, Luke Travers, Kane Waters, Kye Chamberlain, Melusi Mkhwananzi
Out: Eric Milam, Julian Pesava, Matt Vinci
CMTG EAST PERTH EAGLES
Coach: Luke Coburn (1st season)
Last year: 6-20 (12th)
In: Brian Sullivan (restricted), Kevin Davis (restricted), Chris Clausen, Bailey Basso, Jayden Coburn, Ryan Woodbury, Brendan Tucek
Out: Jordan Wellsteed, Cameron Williams, Jermaine Malie, Anthony Golden, Drew Williamson, Dennis Tawhiti
PANACEUM GROUP GERALDTON BUCCANEERS
Coach: Dayle Joseph (2nd season, this stint)
Last year: 19-7 (Champions)
In: Kyle Roach (restricted), Shaun Stewart (restricted), Xavier Shaw, Zach Te Puni, Johny Narkle, Geordie Murray
Out: Brendan Dinardo, Marcus Alipate, DeAngelo Isby, Colter Lasher, Alex Ducas, Liam Hunt
NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES GOLDFIELDS GIANTS
Coach: Wayne Creek (2nd season, this stint)
Last year: 14-12 (lost quarter finals)
In: Corey Hammell (restricted), Josh Jones (restricted), Kyle Tipene, Damon Ballantyne, Majier Garang, Michael Gardner, Nick Lawrence
Out: Daniel Forlano, Patrick Burke, David Humphries, Jay Bowie, Brandon Holloway
CHAMBERS FRANKLYN CITY OF JOONDALUP WOLVES
Coach: Andrew Summerville (1st season)
Last year: 20-6 (runner-up)
In: Makinde London (restricted), Roddric Ross (restricted), Joel Vaiangina, Matt Teale, Jake Jobling, Jordan Wellsteed
Out: Damian Matacz, Ridell Camidge, Earnest Ross, Kevin Davis, Kye Chamberlain, Bailey Basso
KALAMUNDA EASTERN SUNS
Coach: Mark Utley (2nd season)
Last year: 13-13 (lost quarter finals)
In: Albert Almanza (restricted), Tevin Bellinger (restricted), Jermaine Malie, Dyson Lowe, Brendan Dinardo,
Out: Josh Braun, Javion Blake, Spencer Alone, Tim Squire, Jono Diaz,
Coach: Dave Daniels (3rd season)
Last year: 20-6 (lost semi finals)
In: Jay Bowie (restricted)
Out: Jobi Wall
WESTURN ENGINEERING MANDURAH MAGIC
Coach: Aaron Trahair (4th season)
Last year: 6-20 (13th)
In: Jarrett Gray (restricted), Ben Smith, Matt Honey, Tom Atkinson, Xavier Cotton, Connor Richardson, Isiah Walley Stack, Dylan Griechan,
Out: Shaun Stewart, Travis Durnin, Damon Ballantyne, Damon Moore, Dadi Pal
ID ATHLETIC PERRY LAKES HAWKS
Coach: Matt Parsons (4th season)
Last year: 18-8 (lost semi finals)
In: Brachon Griffin (restricted), Mike Parks Jr (restricted), Austin Kisselev
Out: Brian Carlwell, Clint Steindl, Tevin Jackson, Kyle Sovine, Travis Hayto, Dan Thomas, Jordan Hickert
TEXTURE WA PERTH REDBACKS
Coach: CJ Jackson (1st season)
Last year: 11-15 (10th)
In: Brian Carlwell, Tevin Jackson, Caleb White (restricted), Matt Vinci, Bang Majok, Kyden Edman, Michael Riley, Josh Draper, Tery Caldon, Dennis Tawhiti, Josh Draper, Kyden Edman, Ezra Nikora
Out: Marshall Nelson, Jourdan DeMuynck, Lee Roberts, Jayden Coburn, Majier Garang, Ethan Vlahov, Lachlan Forrest
SINCLAIR MCDONALD’S ROCKINGHAM FLAMES
Coach: Ryan Petrik (2nd season)
Last year: 18-8 (lost quarter finals)
In: Robert Heyer (restricted), Jackson Hussey, Travis Durnin, Travis Vogel, Kristian Ciabattoni
Out: Caleb White, Chudier Pal, Luke Travers, Melusi Mkhwananzi, Jarryd Griffin
PRINT SYNC SOUTH WEST SLAMMERS
Coach: Mark Worthington (1st season)
Last year: 1-25 (wooden spoon)
In: Jay Washington (restricted), Damon Moore, Rivar Evans,
Out: Terrell Carter, Tyler Livingston, Michael Lay, James Allen, Charles Kativu, Phoenix O’Neill
BETHANIE WARWICK SENATORS
Coach: Mike Ellis (5th season)
Last year: 16-10 (lost quarter finals)
In: Edward Hardt (restricted), Corban Wroe
Out: Robert Anshila, Ngor Manyang,
ZAMBRERO WILLETTON TIGERS
Coach: Steve Black (5th season)
Last year: 13-13 (9th)
In: Patrick Burke (restricted), Lewis Thomas, Tana Kopa
Out: Jackson Hussey, Chris Galbreath, Dylan Hampson, Hayden Noordhoek
*All player in and out information based on what has been provided to the SBL by clubs