THE top four in the Men’s West Coast Classic could all stay as it is after Round 9 heading into the finals should the Warwick Senators, Perry Lakes Hawks, Perth Redbacks and Joondalup Wolves win on Saturday night, but the Willetton Tigers, Lakeside Lightning and Rockingham Flames won’t be lying down.
All seven teams remain genuine chances of taking part in the finals action heading into the last round of the West Coast Classic setting up quite the exciting Saturday night.
We couldn’t ask for more than to have the final round of the West Coast Classic fixtured how it is with the match ups between the Lightning and Redbacks, Wolves and Tigers, and Senators and Flames all at the same time to have the ultimate say on who reaches the finals.
The top four teams by the end of Saturday night will take part in the finals of the West Coast Classic next weekend with the semi finals to take place on Friday night at the homes of the top two placed teams before the Grand Final then will be at Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday night.
The Willetton Tigers are going to have a big say in how the final positions finish up as they prepare for a double-header weekend to close the West Coast Classic regular season.
There is just the one game on Friday night and that takes place at Willetton Basketball Stadium with the Tigers playing host to the Cockburn Cougars.
What happens in that game will set the stage for what a whole host of matches then end up meaning on Saturday night, including for the Tigers as they head to HBF Arena to play the Joondalup Wolves.
Should the Tigers beat the Cougars on Friday night, then everything goes on the line when they take on the Wolfpack on Saturday.
The Tigers come into the final round in sixth position with a 7-4 record bouncing back to win in Geraldton last week after a tough loss the previous Friday night against the Senators.
Stephen Black has done an outstanding job with the Tigers in the West Coast Classic given they were expecting imports Patrick Burke and Mo Barrow to be huge pieces for them during the SBL season had it eventuated.
But with Damien Scott, Andrew Black and Lewis Thomas leading the way for a youthful contingent led by Connor Mincherton and Travis Fee, Willetton has not only been impressive but consistent.
Their four losses to the Lightning, Redbacks, Senators and Hawks could have all gone their way with a bit of luck and they deserve to be still a chance at playing finals now entering the last round.
The Wolves come into Saturday night’s game having won importantly against the Slammers last Saturday on the back of a big home loss to the Lightning, but they still aren’t playing anywhere near the basketball they were early on in the West Coast Classic.
Some of that is down to personnel and the loss of Lee Roberts understandably has left a significant hole, but the Wolves can still lock a way a spot in the finals with a win on Saturday night on their home floor against Willetton.
The Wolves-Tigers battled on Saturday night is just the beginning of what makes it such a fascinating evening in the West Coast Classic though.
First up is the Lakeside Lightning against the Perth Redbacks at Lakeside Recreation Centre in what is just about an early elimination final.
The Redbacks are sitting in third position coming into the round with a 9-3 record and if they win this game, not only are they guaranteed of taking part in the semi finals but they could even sneak into second spot with a bit of luck depending on other results and percentage.
However, just getting the win for the Redbacks against Lakeside is going to be challenging enough with the Lightning to all but book in their own finals spot with a victory.
A win for the Lightning and they join the Redbacks on a 9-4 record and they will be a good chance of making up the percentage gap with a victory. There’s unlikely to be room for both teams in the top four should the Lightning win so everything is at stake when they lock horns.
Another game with plenty on the line for both combatants takes place at Warwick Stadium with the on-fire Warwick Senators hosting the Rockingham Flames.
The Senators are the hottest team in the West Coast Classic with an 11-game winning streak to sit on top of the standings at 11-1 to be guaranteed of at least a top two spot and a home semi-final next Friday night.
But another win on Saturday night for the Senators and the regular season championship is all theirs.
The Flames could still have it all to play for too despite the challenge ahead of them trying to hand the Senators their second loss of the West Coast Classic.
Rockingham has a 7-5 record right now and a poor percentage, but a surprisingly big win for Ryan Godfrey, Jackson Hussey, Travis Durnin and the Flames, and providing the Wolves lose, Tigers lose on Friday and the Lightning lose, and they could still sneak into fourth.
It might sound like a lot, but while there’s still a chance there to fight for then for the Flames it’s worth throwing everything at it.
Then the last game on Saturday night to still have say in what happens to the finals is at Wally Hagan Stadium with the Cockburn Cougars hosting the Perry Lakes Hawks.
The Cougars might be out of the hunt but are no pushovers and could cause the upset to hurt the Perry Lakes’ hopes of retaining their top two position. The Hawks are guaranteed of playing finals but not of hosting a semi-final should they lose to Cockburn.
Then there are games with little but pride on the line with the Geraldton Buccaneers hosting the South West Slammers at Active West Stadium.
The Goldfields Giants are also at home to the East Perth Eagles at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium with the Mandurah Magic hosting the Kalamunda Eastern Suns as well at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
WEST COAST CLASSIC 2020 – MEN
Willetton Tigers v Cockburn Cougars – Willetton Basketball Stadium 8.30pm
Geraldton Buccaneers v South West Slammers – Active West Stadium 6pm
Goldfields Giants v East Perth Eagles – Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium 7pm
Cockburn Cougars v Perry Lakes Hawks – Wally Hagan Stadium 7pm
Lakeside Lightning v Perth Redbacks – Lakeside Recreation Centre 7pm
Warwick Senators v Rockingham Flames – Warwick Stadium 7pm
Joondalup Wolves v Willetton Tigers – HBF Arena 7pm
Mandurah Magic v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 7pm