Men's Quarter Finals Week 1 SBL Preview
ALL four opening games of the men's SBL quarter-final series' will be taking place over this Friday and Saturday night with the lowest ranked teams at the end of the regular season hosting the encounters.
The highest ranked teams will then host the Game 2 of each series first up next weekend and also the deciding Game 3 if required.
The men's playoffs for 2014 begin on Friday night with the Vorian Agency East Perth Eagles hosting the Orange Autos Rockingham Flames at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre. Tip-off is at 7.30pm.
The other three quarter-final Game 1 matches of the opening weekend then take place on Saturday night starting at 7.30pm with the Collie Crane Hire South West Slammers facing the Sun City Plumbing Geraldton Buccaneers at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The last two matches of Saturday night then tip-off at 8pm with the Stirling Senators playing the Lakeside Lightning at Warwick Leisure Centre and the Mandurah Magic taking on the Perth Redbacks at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.
The Eagles and Flames' battle might be the seventh-placed team against the second-placed side at the end of the regular season, but it could very well be a much closer affair than that suggests.
Despite East Perth finishing in seventh spot with a 14-12 record, its best form during the season showed it could match it with any side in the competition.
The Eagles did get things going towards the end of the season going on a four-match winning streak before losing their last two games to the Redbacks and Cougars to end up finishing in seventh position.
The Flames, meanwhile, were on top of the standings for a lot of the season before finishing up winning just five of their last 11 games to end up in second spot, and not heading into the playoffs with a whole lot of momentum.
The Flames might have only lost nine matches for the entire regular season, but two of those came against East Perth with the Eagles winning 104-101 at Mike Barnett Sports Complex in Week 11 and then again prevailing 112-95 at Morley Sport and Recreation Centre in Week 16.
The Slammers found their most consistent form of the season in the run home winning four of their last six games to secure a playoff berth and one of those wins along the way came against the Buccaneers, so they will take plenty of confidence heading into battling the minor premiers.
The Buccaneers might have suffered a three-match losing streak on the eve of the playoffs before winning their last two matches over the Tigers and Suns, but prior to that the Buccs had been in dominant form winning nine straight matches to secure the minor premiership.
The Buccaneers have enormous firepower as well in their line-up with Bennie Lewis, Carter Cook, Aaron Ralph, Matt Wundenberg and new import Jerrah Young but the Slammers aren’t without talent of their own led by playing coach Ty Harrelson along with new import Markus Monroe as well as Clive Weeden, Wade Hitchcock and Trent Worthington.
The two teams split their meeting during the regular season with the Buccaneers beating the Slammers 120-100 at Active West Stadium in Week 4 while South West got a win back in Week 19 recording a thrilling 104-102 victory at Eaton Recreation Centre.
The defending champion Lakeside hasn’t always had an easy ride throughout the 2014 regular season and now the Lightning are going to have to be at their best to get through the Senators and make it at least back to the semi finals.
The Lightning do have the strong core group of Brad Tinsley, Caleb Palkert, Jarrad Prue and Brad Jackson but the Senators have plenty of talent with Cody Ellis, Jordan Wild, Cory Cooperwood, Josh Throns and Austin Bruton so both teams have plenty of firepower to take into the contest.
The two teams split their meetings during the regular season with the Lightning winning in Week 11 at Warwick Leisure Centre by a thumping margin of 38 points. The Senators then got a win back at Lakeside Recreation Centre 114-105 in Week 19, only a fortnight ago.
The Magic and Redbacks were two of the teams fighting over a top four berth for much of the regular season and in the finish only two wins separated them by the end of the campaign.
That suggests little should separate them coming into the quarter-final match up and the two teams split their regular season meetings with Mandurah winning 103-92 at Belmont Oasis in Week 3 and then Perth recording a 119-113 victory at Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre in Week 13.
Perth has two of the best imports in the SBL in the form of Stan Okoye and Lee Roberts, and then topped off with the experience of Joel Wagner, Jarrad Prior and Dennis Tawhiti, the Redbacks could very well have a line-up capable of winning a championship.
However, just getting through the Magic won't be easy and the boys from Mandurah have good reason to go in confident with a strong line-up of their own including Taylor Mullenax, Ben Smith, Paul Hafford, Rhett and Brendan Della, Trent Gerovich and Daniel Florance.
WEEK 1 MEN'S QUARTER FINALS SBL FIXTURES
(7) Vorian Agency East Perth Eagles v (2) Orange Autos Rockingham Flames, Morley Sport and Recreation Centre 7.30pm
(8) Collie Crane Hire South West Slammers v (1) Sun City Plumbing Geraldton Buccaneers, Eaton Recreation Centre 7.30pm
(5) Stirling Senators v (4) Lakeside Lightning, Warwick Leisure Centre 8pm
(6) Mandurah Magic v (3) Perth Redbacks, Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 8pm
Article by Chris Pike
Photo by Deprimo Photography