The Perth Redbacks men bounced back well from their heartbreaking loss in Geraldton with two strong wins against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in Round 16 of the NBL1 West season.
The Redbacks lost on the buzzer in Geraldton to the Buccs the previous Saturday night so they weren’t in the mood to mess around in their two matchups with the Eastern Suns in Round 16 of the NBL1 West Men’s Division season.
The Redbacks delivered the two important wins too, starting on Friday night at Belmont Oasis winning 100-89. Then just under 24 hours later at Ray Owen Sports Centre, the Redbacks again prevailed 113-101.
Perth didn’t have it all their own way in the two games with the Eastern Suns receiving 78 points from newly arrived Kiwi guard Joe Cook-Green across the two matches, but the two wins for the Redbacks improves them to a 12-6 record to remain a chance of a top-four finish.
Starting on Friday night and spurred on by the loss in Geraldton, the Redbacks came out on fire against the Suns scoring the game’s opening seven points with five of those coming from Louis Timms in his first time playing in red against Kalamunda.
Marshall Nelson then hit four quick points to help the Redbacks out to an 11-3 edge. And then heading towards quarter-time the home really blew things out.
When Denzel Jackson came on and scored, it was a 29-13 edge and really for most of the rest of the game the lead for the Redbacks was somewhere around that mark.
The Eastern Suns did take some momentum into quarter-time after import Chris Johnson hit a half-court prayer on the buzzer, but the Redbacks still led 29-16.
Kalamunda had come to compete, though, and it was game on at half-time with Perth only clinging to a 45-38 advantage.
It was hard work for the Redbacks through the second half and credit to the Eastern Suns for making it that way. On several occasions, they threatened to build some momentum for a big fightback and it was the aggressiveness of Cook-Green at the centre of everything they did.
The Redbacks did have a size and athletic advantage which saw them outrebound the Eastern Suns by 11, and while Perth shot well overall at 48.3 per from the field, they only went at 6/32 at 18.8 per cent from three-point range.
The Suns went at 43.8 per cent from the floor and 37.5 from deep, but it was Cook-Green getting to the foul line 12 times and then the entire team getting there 28 times to just 11 from the Redbacks that helped keep Kalamunda in it.
Louis Timms enjoyed things in his first appearance for the Redbacks against the Eastern Suns ending the night with 27 points, 10 rebounds and three assists despite going 1/8 from three-point range.
Marshall Nelson also only went 1/7 from deep with his lone make coming as a steadying basket late with him returning for the Redbacks with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Tevin Jackson also put up 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the team in red, Zac Gattorna 16 points and 11 boards, Joel Wagner nine points and eight assists, and Kyden Edman seven points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Then on Saturday, both teams came out ready to put on an offensive show from the outset and while neither coach might have liked their team’s defence, the fans sure were treated to something special in the opening quarter.
The two teams combined for 71 points with the Redbacks leading the Eastern Suns 39-32 by quarter-time.
Things quietened a little the rest of the way, but not a whole lot with the Redbacks putting up another 26 points to 24 from the Suns in the second quarter to go into half-time leading 65-56.
Kalamunda refused to go away and got back within five points by three quarter-time, but with the Redbacks needing to win to keep their top-four hopes alive, they pulled away with 23 points to 16 in the fourth period to run out 113-101 winners.
While the Redbacks got the win on the back of a host of players having good nights, without doubt, the star of the evening was Joe Cook-Green for the Eastern Suns.
Having only arrived in Australia from New Zealand the previous week, he was just unstoppable in his fourth game for the Suns. The previous night he did well on the back of driving the ball hard to the basket for 35 points.
But he went up another level on Saturday night with the Redbacks deciding to deny his drive a bit more. The result was he caught fire from beyond the three-point line hitting 8/10 on his way to 15/24 from the floor, 5/6 from the foul line and 43 points for the game.
It was the number of contributors the Redbacks had that proved the difference with Zac Gattorna leading the way with 25 points, nine assists and four rebounds on 9/15 shooting.
Marshall Nelson also had 24 points and five assists for Perth, Tevin Jackson 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Louis Timms 22 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Kyden Edman also had 11 points and 10 rebounds for a Redbacks team minus captain Joel Wagner.