Redbacks fire in Kalgoorlie to close in on final berth

THE Perth Redbacks produced a scintillating first half on the way to what could be a finals clinching win in Kalgoorlie on Saturday night against the Goldfields Giants.

The Redbacks men made the trip to Kalgoorlie to take on a Giants team that had yet to lose during the West Coast Classic at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium, and with both teams entering the penultimate round still a chance of being part of finals action.

But the Redbacks caught fire in the first half and would go on to lead by as many as 24 points to still be on top to the tune of 22 by half-time on the way to the eventual 75-61 victory that goes a long way to securing them a finals spot in the West Coast Classic with one round to go.

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It was virtually a must-win affair in Kalgoorlie for both teams on Saturday night and in the end it was the Perth Redbacks who scored the pivotal 75-61 victory over the Goldfields Giants.

There was so much at stake for both the Giants and Redbacks coming into Saturday night’s clash at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium with both still in the finals hunt in the West Coast Classic.

Goldfields came into the game on the back of a four-game winning streak to be 6-4 and needing to keep winning to try close in on a top four spot.

The Redbacks, meanwhile, headed to Kalgoorlie already on a two-game winning streak but knowing they still needed to win their remaining two contests away from home if they wanted to take part in the finals weekend.

Making things trickier for the Redbacks was the absence of Joel Wagner, Michael Riley, Ezra Nikora and Dennis Tawhiti for the trip as well against a Goldfields team yet to lose on their home floor during the West Coast Classic.

The Redbacks made the first break early on and went up 11-6 when Caleb White hit a three-pointer before Marshall Nelson made a jumper and Lachlan Bertram nailed a triple as that became 16-6.

White then hit another from downtown to make it 19-8 and Bertram hit a second three-point bomb too as the Redbacks went into quarter-time leading 28-16.

Bang Majok nailed a three also for Perth to start the second quarter before Nelson was able to stretch the lead out to 14 points. Majok and Nelson combined to stretch that advantage out to 18 before Ethan Vlahov made it 20.

Ronan Coppin earned the start in the absence of Joel Wagner and then stretched the Redbacks lead to 22 points before Riley Duncan hit a three-pointer for the Giants heading towards half-time.

But the Redbacks still led 54-32 by the main break and while the Giants closed the gap throughout the second half, they could never get closer than six points during the final stanza.

The Redbacks went on to win 75-61 and to move up into third position in the standings at 9-3 and now all they have to do is beat Lakeside on the road on Saturday night and they are guaranteed of a finals position.

As for the Giants, for all the excitement they have brought to the West Coast Classic, they are out of the finals hunt at 6-5 with a game to go at home against the East Perth Eagles to finish things off.

The Redbacks also had to score the win without Tevin Jackson who wasn’t seen after quarter-time.

Marshall Nelson was brilliant for the Redbacks with 28 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals while Caleb White added 21 points, two boards, two assists and two steals.

Lachlan Bertram delivered 10 points as well while Bang Majok scored five points.

The Redbacks men and women now finish their West Coast Classic campaigns this Saturday night against the Lakeside Lightning at Lakeside Recreation Centre.

The equation is simple for the Redbacks men and a win will guarantee they take part in the finals weekend next week which will see the semi-final played at the home of the highest-ranked team on the Friday night.

The Grand Final will then be played at Bendat Basketball Centre on Sunday night.

The Redbacks women could still be part of finals should they beat the Lightning on Saturday night as well and if the Perry Lakes Hawks happen to lose to the Cockburn Cougars.

The women’s Grand Final in the West Coast Classic will also be at Bendat Basketball Centre but on Saturday night.

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