CALEB White put on the sort of dominant performance that shows just why CJ Jackson is keen to build his Perth Redbacks around him beyond this West Coast Classic, but he wants a better defensive effort against the Geraldton Buccaneers than he saw against the East Perth Eagles.
The Redbacks’ rollercoaster ride so far in the West Coast Classic continued at Belmont Oasis on Friday night as they beat the gutsy and exciting Eagles 95-78 largely on the back of running away with it in the third quarter with Caleb White unstoppable.
The win saw the Redbacks bounce back from last Saturday night’s 28-point loss to Perry Lakes which came 24 hours after a 36-point win over the Cockburn Cougars. And that was after in Round 1, the Redbacks lost to the Joondalup Wolves by 18 points and then beat Mandurah by 11.
Once again the Eagles could have taken great heart from their performance under new coach Luke Coburn.
They might now be 1-3 after Friday’s loss, but clearly they are developing something exciting with their young group and take out the third quarter against the Redbacks and they put in a good showing, and prior to that they lost tight battles to Geraldton and Mandurah.
The longer the game unfolded, the more White proved the difference between the two teams but it wasn’t until the third quarter when the Redbacks were able to gap the Eagles.
Perth did lead 28-20 at quarter-time with White draining a three on the buzzer but East Perth wasn’t going anywhere and by half-time the difference between the two teams was just four points.
Not only did the Redbacks catch fire offensively in the third quarter, they also locked down better on the Eagles to keep them to just the 13 points to set up the eventual win.
The Redbacks did go on to lead by as much as 22 points before ending up winning 95-78.
While happy enough to win against an East Perth team that continues to fight bravely and in many ways battle above their weight division, Jackson was frustrated with the first half performance before liking more of what he saw in the second half.
“In the second half I did see more of what I wanted to see,” Jackson said.
“In the first half I thought we gave up too much and our defence probably wasn’t as hard as I anticipated being against a young and energetic team.
“I thought they were taking it to us in the first half and I didn’t think we responded the way we could have responded with our defensive structure. But in the second half they got it.”
It was a standout game from Caleb White as he delivered the 42 points on another efficient shooting night going 14/20 from the field and 9/12 from deep.
“He is capable of putting up those type of numbers consistently and the thing that we want to try to do is that we want to make those points as easy as we can, and I think that a lot of those points came pretty easy off of the captain penetrating,” Jackson said.
“He got a lot of assists from a lot of different angles so I think it was pretty good. Caleb is picking his spots too so we kind of know where his spots are and he is doing a really good job at getting to those spots, and being ready to catch and shoot or to drive.
“He is pretty good when he drives too and he is pretty good inside, and he knows how to attack the rim as well as he does shoot.”
Having Joel Wagner running things for the Redbacks remains their biggest strength with the SBL’s all-time assists leader dishing out another eight dimes on Friday night.
Marshall Nelson also put up 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, and Tevin Jackson 12 points, five rebounds and three steals.
There was again a lot to like about what East Perth produced despite a high turnover count of 28.
Shaquille Maharaj was again impressive with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Logan Thwaites put up 11 points, three boards and three steals, Jarrod Anastasio 10 points and 10 rebounds, Nic Filpo eight points, and Kieran Berry eight points and six assists.
Looking back to last Saturday night, CJ Jackson was far from happy with the eventual 28-point loss to Perry Lakes on the back of 36-point hammering of Cockburn they dished out the night before on their home court.
While there might have been explanations for how well the Hawks played against the Redbacks including Joel Wagner and Zac Gattorna missing, and Marshall Nelson hampered by foul trouble, Jackson still came away disappointed.
“I think we got overenthusiastic about that game,” he said.
“I don’t think we had the leadership which was required and it was playing against a lot of the kids that you coached so they kind of know my structures because they had played under me.
“That meant they kind of knew where to go and what to do, and I think we just got outplayed last week which was kind of disappointing to me.”
It might be a remarkably different Geraldton Buccaneers team now that the Redbacks face on Saturday night back at Belmont Oasis from the side that won last year’s SBL championship, including the loss of Liam Hunt last week to a devastating knee injury.
But Jackson is fully aware that if the Redbacks are to make it a double-win weekend that they need to tighten things up defensively.
“I think we really do need to tighten up our defence a little bit more,” Jackson said.
“I thought that even though we played a younger team from East Perth, they had a couple of guys who lit us up and we need to really look at tightening up those loose ends so that we don’t have a guy on the other team hitting 50 on us.
“That’s what we need to do now coming up against the Buccs because they have some players capable of doing that if we allow them to.”
East Perth also backs up on Saturday night by playing host to the South West Slammers at Herb Graham Recreation Centre.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN
Perth Redbacks 95 defeated East Perth Eagles 78
Willetton Tigers 94 lost to Perry Lakes Hawks 96
Joondalup Wolves 80 defeated Kalamunda Eastern Suns 76
Perth Redbacks v Geraldton Buccaneers – Belmont Oasis 7.00pm
Goldfields Giants v Rockingham Flames – Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium 7.00pm
Warwick Senators v Joondalup Wolves – Warwick Stadium 7.00pm
Cockburn Cougars v Lakeside Lightning – Wally Hagan Stadium 7.00pm
East Perth Eagles v South West Slammers – Herb Graham Recreation Centre 7.00pm
Perry Lakes Hawks v Mandurah Magic – Bendat Basketball Centre 8.00pm
Kalamunda Eastern Suns v Geraldton Buccaneers – Ray Owen Sports Centre 12.00pm