The Perth Redbacks men and women will both be determined to deliver strong performances at Belmont Oasis this Friday night as they gear up for the finals in the NBL1 West season.
Top four finishes for both Redbacks women’s and men’s teams in the NBL1 West competition became more of a challenge following last Friday night’s losses at home to the Mandurah Magic.
The men then also suffered a loss on the road to the Lakeside Lightning on Saturday evening leading into the final round of the regular season this weekend.
The good news is that both Redbacks teams are guaranteed of being part of the playoffs coming into Friday night at Belmont Oasis against the Cockburn Cougars. The women’s match tips off at 6.30pm followed by the men at 8.30pm.
That game ends the regular season for the Redbacks women, but the men are then again in action on Saturday afternoon from noon at home to the travelling Goldfields Giants.
Starting with the women’s clash on Friday night, it’s a big game for both the Redbacks and Cougars.
The Redbacks come into the final round on a 10-7 record to still be in a fight with the Rockingham Flames over fourth position. All the Redbacks can do is hope to beat the Cougars at home on Friday and hope the other results fall their way to see them end up in fourth position.
Cockburn, meanwhile, is not guaranteed of even being part of the playoffs just yet coming into the last round with an 8-8 record with two crucial matches this weekend.
If the Cougars win both their games they will play finals, but if they lose one or both then there’s every chance they miss out on a top-eight position at the expense of the Mandurah Magic and Perry Lakes Hawks.
Last Friday night was a challenge for the Redbacks emotionally to get up for the game after some of the players attended a funeral earlier in the day.
Redbacks coach Craig Allen is now hoping his team can come out with a clearer mind this Friday night and put in a strong performance against the Cougars to take some momentum into the finals.
“You never get over those sort of things, losing people that you love, and it’s always a hard thing to get over, but we have to come out with a fresh mind on Friday and hopefully out of that adversity hopefully you grow strength,” Allen said.
“That’s how you build character and the strength of the group so hopefully we can grow from there. But the reality is that if we get together and play our way as a group, then we have shown that we are capable of playing at a particularly high level.”
By the end of the game, Allen just hopes he can reflect back on a performance from the Redbacks against the Cougars where they executed how they want to, and if that has happened he is confident of a positive result.
“Hopefully we see great effort out there during the game first and foremost and hopefully we work much better together as a group. Hopefully, we celebrate each other’s success at the end of the day,” Allen said.
“That’s ultimately what team sport is about. The result stuff usually takes care of itself if you build that successful group dynamic and culture. We can’t focus on a win, we have to focus on executing how we want to and working together as a group, then the wins take care of themselves.”
Then in the men’s clash on Friday night, it’s a big game as well for both the Redbacks and Cougars to open the last round of the regular season.
The Redbacks suffered two tough losses last weekend to the Magic and Lightning, but it was always going to be a challenge in the absence of the injured Joel Wagner and the ill Zac Gattorna.
That leaves them sitting on a 12-8 record coming into the last round and while a top-four finish now looks unlikely, the Redbacks will want to have a winning weekend to try and finish as high up on the table as possible.
Friday night will be a significant challenge first up against a Cockburn team playing for their lives. The Cougars are still in ninth position coming into the last round with a 9-11 record but they have been in some impressive form of late.
With Nic Pozoglou and Gavin Field playing tremendously, the Cougars have won seven of their past nine matches to still give themselves a shot of the playoffs if they beat the Redbacks and South West Slammers this weekend.
The Redbacks then back up playing the Cougars on Friday night by hosting the Goldfields Giants back at Belmont Oasis at 12pm on Saturday.
The Giants might be out of the playoff hunt but they have been playing well of late and will be another test for the Redbacks. Goldfields comes into the game having won their last two matches and they will want to end their regular season on a high.