Men's SBL Season Preview – Rockingham Flames
THE Rockingham Flames got the best out of themselves in the Men's SBL in 2015 finishing fifth and winning a playoff series but with some experience loss they will need to lift again to replicate those performances.
Following a run of five straight seasons without taking part in the post-season, coach Mark Utley has done a tremendous job turning the Flames around to top five finishes the last two seasons.
Last year they ended the regular season with a 15-11 record to be in fifth position and they then did a terrific job advancing to the semi finals after knocking off the Cockburn Cougars.
They came up against the powerhouse Joondalup Wolves but did put up a good fight in the semis.
The Flames have had some interesting player movements in the off-season, but overall there's no reason they shouldn’t expect to be able to replicate their performance of last year.
The loss of experienced big man Tom Remmerswaal who returns to the Mandurah Magic does hurt after he provided 15.3 points and 5.8 boards a game last season while Chad Simpson joins him at the Magic.
The retirement of Andrew Bowman and Travis Moore does leave a void in experience for Rockingham too.
However, Cooper and Taylor Land remain the imports for the Flames and a heavy reliance will again be put on to their shoulders to help the Flames remain a playoff threat.
Ryan Godfrey and Jarryd Griffin will also be called upon to provide even more production this season.
There are some exciting signings for Rockingham highlighted by the return of big man Chudier Pal who has completed his college career at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Former Flames players Dylan Fox and Ryan Jeffrey have also signed on for 2016 with former Willetton Tiger Nebojsha Franich on board as well.
At the SBL Blitz at Warwick Stadium, the Flames defeated the Perth Redbacks and Mandurah Magic, drew with the Lakeside Lightning and downed the East Perth Eagles.
The Flames will begin their 2016 SBL season on Saturday March 19 up against the Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
Their home opener will be on Easter Monday when they take on the East Perth Eagles at Mike Barnett Sports Complex.
Ryan Godfrey, Matt Honey, Luke Roberts, Ryan Jeffrey, Kyle Beard, Taylor Land (restricted), Justin Beard, Jarryd Griffin, Nebojsha Franich, Dain Samuelson, Cooper Land (restricted), Dylan Fox, Ryan McRedmond, Chudier Pal
Coach – Mark Utley
Championship winning coach – ADAM FORDE
PREDICTION – 11th
It’s the 4th season for Justin Beard and Luke Roberts in the SBL, and they’ll need to finally step out of their comfort zone from being ‘players with potential’ to ‘impact players’ if the Flames are a chance. Chudier Pal is a massive ‘in’ for the Flames, but coming off injury he still is a relatively unknown on what type of impact he’ll produce. Godfrey in MVP talks come end of season if he can guide them into finals contention.
SBL Slam Radio Host - MATT CECINS
PREDICTION – 7th
A fit Cooper Land will have opponents on guard throughout 2016. The addition of Nebojsha Franich and a healthy Chudier Pal will allow Land to play away from the basket, and allow him the luxury of guarding a smaller body on the defensive end of the floor. Ryan Godfrey is an outstanding player and key ingredient for this Flames team.
PREDICTION – 10th
It's hard to see the Flames improving this season with a few key losses including Remmerswaal returning to the Magic, and Bowman and Moore both retiring. But Cooper Land is capable of getting back to his 2014 MVP form, Chudier Pal will be a strong addition after finishing college and Mark Utley is a top-level coach who always ensures his team is in the mix.
Article by Chris Pike