Finally, the Perth Redbacks will get to hit the Belmont Oasis court this Saturday night to host the Perry Lakes Hawks as the 2021 NBL1 West season resumes.
It has been quite the wait but let’s hope it has all been worthwhile with the men’s match to get underway from 5pm and the women’s clash to follow from 7pm.
Adding to the occasion of the Redbacks playing their first-ever home games in the NBL1 West competition, this weekend is also the NBL1 Pink Round which will be used to draw attention to the fight against breast cancer, and as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Network Australia.
And if that’s not enough, the games between the Redbacks and Hawks will be the annual Len Vlahov Memorial Games with a special presentation to be made from the Vlahov family after both the women’s and men’s matches at Belmont Oasis.
It might be Round 4 of the NBL1 West season, but with Rounds 2 and 3 having been postponed thanks to the COVID-19 restrictions in place from the West Australian government, this will just be the second time the Redbacks have got to hit the floor in 2021.
Both games against the Hawks should be fascinating encounters.
The men’s match will open the evening’s proceedings with the Redbacks looking to bounce back from their first-round loss to the Senators. That game featured a Redbacks team well short of the fully powered squad coach CJ Jackson will be hoping to have available as the season goes on, but still the Senators handed the Redbacks the 86-52 defeat.
Now it looms as a fascinating contest this Saturday night against a Perry Lakes team who are perennially championship contenders, and are fresh off reaching the Grand Final of the West Coast Classic in 2020.
While it was a hefty opening round loss for the Redbacks men against the Senators, Marshall Nelson and the league’s all-time assists leader Joel Wagner are among those players who weren’t available for that contest.
So there’s plenty of natural improvement that the Redbacks can make as their personnel improves the longer this season goes, but for Saturday night, coach Jackson will just be hoping for a better effort from the players that are available.
Going back three weeks ago, it was tough going as a team as they shot just 20/74 at 27 per cent from the floor, 3/26 from three-point range at 12 per cent and while they won the rebound count, they did cough up 20 turnovers.
The Redbacks will be looking to improve in all those areas while there were some positives in the form of 14 points and five rebounds from Louis Timms, 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals from Tevin Jackson, and eight points, five boards and two assists from Kyden Edman.
As for their opponents on Saturday night, the Hawks travelled to Kalgoorlie back in the opening round of the season and came home with the 100-89 victory against the Goldfields Giants.
There were the usual names there for Perry Lakes like Rob Cassir and Ben Purser who were instrumental in the win while Cooper Hamilton, Mitch Clarke and Matthew Leary were impressive to continue their emergence.
Perth Wildcats development player Andrew Ferguson has joined Perry Lakes this season from the Lakeside Lightning as well, and he had an impressive first-up performance for the Hawks with 22 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
His battle this Saturday night with Louis Timms could very well be worth the price of admission for the evening’s action.
Second up on the night will be the women’s game with the Redbacks out to build on their Round 1 momentum which saw them record an impressive 95-78 victory against the Warwick Senators at Warwick Stadium.
It will have been a 22-day break in between games by the time they hit the floor this Saturday night against the Hawks, but there was plenty to like about that performance from the Redbacks to begin life in the NBL1 West competition.
The Redbacks dominated the boards to pull in 59 rebounds to just 36 from the Senators and they did overcome having 14 turnovers by shooting the ball well going at 48.6 per cent from the field and hitting 8/20 at 40 per cent from three-point territory.
Plenty of players stepped up for the Redbacks to have impressive starts to the season too and none better than returning guard Makailah Dyer. She put up 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals including shooting 4/8 from three-point range.
Denielle Ashworth also had a big game putting up 19 points on 9/13 shooting with Bri Bailey adding 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, Shenae Hartree 11 points and nine rebounds, and Maddie Allen 11 points to go with 17 boards, six assists and four blocked shots.
It sets up a tantalising Saturday battle this week with a Perry Lakes team who are yet to play a game in the NBL1 West competition.
With the Hawks men playing in Kalgoorlie back in Round 1, the women had the bye and now they will be making their first appearance under coach, and new mother, Deanna Black on Saturday night.
Perry Lakes look to have assembled an impressive-looking roster, though, for the 2021 season with the additions of Megan McKay, Mia Satie and Beige Harris to a team already including plenty of star power led by Nat Burton.
It is shaping as quite the memorable night at Belmont Oasis as the Redbacks host the Hawks and with proceeds going to Breast Cancer Network Australia, you shouldn’t need any further motivation to come along and check it out.