The Perth Redbacks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns are sure going to be getting to know each other well this weekend with a double-header home and away in Round 16 of the NBL1 West season.
There is no shortage of motivation for both Redbacks teams coming into the four contests within 24 hours against the Eastern Suns either.
The Redbacks women are playing their first games in two weeks as they attempt to try and string wins together in the lead up to the finals while the men will be as determined as ever to respond to last week’s heartbreaking loss in Geraldton to the Buccaneers.
The weekend’s action between the Perth Redbacks and Kalamunda Eastern Suns begins on Friday night at Belmont Oasis.
The return encounters will take place on Saturday night at Ray Owen Sports Centre with the women’s game starting at 6.30pm and the men’s at 8.30pm on both evenings.
Starting with the two women’s contests this weekend, the Redbacks enter the round with an 8-6 record and a chance of breaking into the top four if they can string a couple of wins together.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Suns are in a position where they can’t afford to lose any more games over the final three rounds of the season if they want to retain any chance of taking part in the playoffs.
They currently sit back in second last place with a 4-10 record of what is now a 19-game season for all clubs.
The Redbacks women didn’t play last weekend while the men were in Geraldton and their last match was a dominant 84-62 victory against the Lakeside Lightning so they will certainly be looking to keep the momentum going from that performance.
The Eastern Suns, though, now come into this weekend on a three-game losing streak in the NBL1 West Women’s Division.
Going back a few weeks, the Suns had won a couple of games against the Warwick Senators and Cockburn Cougars to be building some momentum.
However, since they have lost to the Lakeside Lightning, Mandurah Magic and East Perth Eagles to now be in a situation to need to win all their remaining games to be any hope of reaching the playoffs.
While the Redbacks and Eastern Suns do appear in contrasting form coming into the weekend, Perth can’t take Kalamunda lightly.
There’s no worry about the Eastern Suns being well-coached with Craig Mansfield back at the helm after taking the Lightning from a wooden spoon to a championship and two straight minor premierships in an impressive four-year stint.
There will be plenty of fascinating matchups to keep an eye out for too and none more so than Makailah Dyer up against Jewel Williams in the backcourt. They are both dynamic playmakers and scoring threats setting up a fascinating contest.
But then the Suns also have Rebecca Motroni, Mia Jacobs and Lizel Buckley in the backcourt to go up against Raya Thompson, Bri Bailey, Denielle Ashworth and Sarah Allen from the Redbacks.
The frontcourt contest is going to be just as exciting too with Maddie Allen and Jess Jakens from Perth up against Sam Roscoe and Ellyce Ironmonger from the Suns.
The two men’s battles this weekend pits a Redbacks team still trying to break into the top four of the NBL1 West competition while the Eastern Suns are a dangerous opponent even if out of playoff contention with three rounds remaining.
The Redbacks men were the hottest team in the competition leading into last Saturday’s trip to Geraldton having won four straight matches, and eight of the past nine to be banging down the door for a top-four position.
The trip to Geraldton didn’t quite go to plan for the Redbacks with a loss on the buzzer to the Buccaneers thanks to a Mathiang Muo three-ball as time expired just seconds after Tevin Jackson put the visitors up three heading into a timeout and the last play of the game.
So that means the Redbacks are high on motivation to bounce back against the Eastern Suns this weekend not to mention the fact they need to get back to winning in an attempt to enter the finals from as high a position as possible.
Kalamunda has now lost five consecutive matches coming into this weekend against the Redbacks, but they had won three in a row prior to that so they are a team that can’t afford to be taken lightly.
The Eastern Suns are well-coached with Mark Utley in charge assisted by dual championship winner Ben Ettridge while their new arrival from New Zealand Joe Cook-Green made an impressive debut last weekend setting up an intriguing point guard battle with Joel Wagner in Round 16.
The Suns will be hoping to get import Chris Williams back from two weeks of hotel quarantine to take on the Redbacks with as well. But quite simply, Perth can’t afford a slip up against Kalamunda.
There will be an extra fascination with it also being the first opportunity for big man Louis Timms to play for the Redbacks up against his former team at the Eastern Suns. He’ll be looking to put his old team to the sword.
The Redbacks will also be hoping to welcome back prolific scorer Marshall Nelson and with the form the likes of Timms, Tevin Jackson and Zac Gattorna are currently in, they deserve to feel good coming into the double-header against the Suns firstly at home on Friday and away on Saturday.