THIS Perth Redbacks squad for the West Coast Classic is built to put on a show and they offered a glimpse into their capabilities up against a tremendously young and inexperienced Cockburn Cougars at Belmont Oasis on Friday night.
The Redbacks had an up and down opening weekend in the West Coast Classic losing on Friday to the Joondalup Wolves before beating the Mandurah Magic 24 hours later while the Cougars lost first up to the Rockingham Flames.
Both teams saw stars not suiting up at Belmont Oasis as well with the Redbacks without Zac Gattorna who is fresh off spending the last NBL season training with the Adelaide 36ers while the Cougars were without boom recruit and Perth Wildcats championship winner Luke Travers.
To say that the Redbacks had more manpower to cover for the loss would be a great understatement.
With the SBL’s all-time assists leader Joel Wagner running the ship and Tevin Jackson and Caleb White out on the wings with all the athleticism in the world, and then the scoring ability of Marshall Nelson, it was quite a show they were able to put on especially in the first half.
The Redbacks piled on 42 points in the opening quarter topped off with a Nelson three on the buzzer two metres beyond the arc.
The Redbacks would end up dominating the rest of the game and ended up leading by as much as 47 points before eventually winning 112-76.
But it would be fair to say it’s a Perth team that is putting out virtually an SBL team while Cockburn is very much a development group under new coach Andrew Cooper.
The Redbacks went on to shoot 41/79 from the field at 51 per cent and 12/29 from deep at 41 per cent.
Last year’s Flames import Caleb White ended up with 28 points, seven rebounds and three assists on remarkably efficient shooting of 10/14 from the floor and 4/5 from deep while playing only 26 minutes.
Marshall Nelson also put up 28 points, six rebounds and six assists for Perth on 9/16 shooting with 3/6 from three-point territory.
Tevin Jackson showed his all-round game with 14 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists including a couple of massive slams, including a thunderous putback dunk.
Joel Wagner might not have scored but had six assists including a wonderful alley-oop pass to Caleb White who finished in style while Neema Kazemi put up 14 points and six boards.
Dennis Tawhiti stood tall for 10 points inside for Perth too with Michael Riley scoring eight points.
Coach CJ Jackson was coaching his first home game at Belmont Oasis upon returning to the Redbacks as they played the Len Vlahov Tribute Game as tradition.
He liked a lot of what he saw from his team in response to last week.
“What I’m happy with is the improvement from last week to this week because we got an education last Friday night at the Joondalup game,” Jackson said.
“They are just such a far talented team with multiple championship players on their team. We turned it around this week and it started with our training on Tuesday night, and it just carried on into tonight’s game. I was really happy with the improvement of all the players.”
There will be tough nights for development teams like the Cougars against the stronger outfits this season, but you can clearly see what they are working towards with the big picture in mind.
Gavin Field still top-scored for Cockburn with 20 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists on shooting 4/6 from three-point range.
Kye Chamberlain added 10 points and four rebounds for the Cougars, Jacob Polglase nine points and five boards, Jaarod Holmes eight points, three rebounds and three steals, Zac Watkinson six points and five boards, and Kane Waters six points.
Both teams now back up on Saturday night with Cockburn playing host to the Joondalup Wolves at Wally Hagan Stadium.
The Redbacks head to Bendat Basketball Centre to take on the Perry Lakes Hawks in what is a homecoming of sorts for both CJ and Tevin Jackson, which CJ can’t wait for.
“I think I’m going back to one of the clubs that I loved as well and it’s most recent one,” Jackson said.
“It’s going to be good to see so many familiar faces and I feel like it might get a little bit heated at times because if I’m a player, OK I just left the Hawks and I’m at the Redbacks now and I want to show you what I’ve got.
“So I think it might get a little heated in that sense, but at the end of the day we have no ill-feelings towards the Hawks and we have nothing but love for the Hawks. But it’s a homecoming so I think it’s going to be great to go back in front of all the people at Bendat.
“I know there’s going to be a warm embrace and it will be great to be in front of them again, and I’m sure the game will be a great spectacle to see how we go against them. I’m going to be really happy with all of that.”
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN
South West Slammers 65 lost to Rockingham Flames 76
Perth Redbacks 112 defeated Cockburn Cougars 76
Willetton Tigers 80 defeated Mandurah Magic 72
Lakeside Lightning 100 defeated Perry Lakes Hawks 78
Goldfields Giants v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium 7.00pm
Rockingham Flames v Geraldton Buccaneers – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 7.00pm
Mandurah Magic v East Perth Eagles – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 7.00pm
Warwick Senators v South West Slammers – Warwick Stadium 7.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v Joondalup Wolves – Wally Hagan Stadium 7.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Perth Redbacks – Bendat Basketball Centre 8.00pm
Joondalup Wolves v Geraldton Buccaneers – HBF Arena 12.00pm