Last Saturday night the Perth Redbacks men delivered the type of finals performance that could be built upon for something special. This weekend is their chance to back that up.
The Redbacks saved their best performance of the NBL1 West season for a cut-throat elimination final on the road to the Warwick Senators last Saturday night.
With all their star players back available and at full health, the potential of what this group can produce when all on the court and on the same page was on full display in a stunning 111-88 victory over the Senators at Warwick Stadium.
It saw the Redbacks move to within two games of a Grand Final and three wins away from what would be a remarkable and historic NBL1 West championship triumph.
That quest to make history for the Redbacks under the coaching of CJ Jackson begins this Friday night on the road to the Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
A win there for the Redbacks and they advance to take on the Perry Lakes Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre who are sitting back awaiting the winner of Friday night’s semi-final.
The equation is simple, if the Redbacks keep winning they keep advancing and should they win twice this weekend, they will be there on Grand Final night next Saturday.
Right from the outset on Saturday night, it was quite the impressive performance from the Redbacks and the signs of what was to come was there from the energy the players brought to the warm-up and bench with them, and they fed off the bench and the fans in the stands all night.
Without question, the end performance was the best the Redbacks have produced this season to beat the Senators 111-88 and to eliminate them on their home floor while advancing to this Friday’s semi-final against Willetton.
Coach Jackson noticed from last Tuesday night’s training session that the group had decided to put the regular season behind them and commit to throwing everything at having a successful run during this finals series.
“They made a commitment to one another to give it their all and to try their best to reach their potential, and you could just see in the energy of the whole squad on Saturday night that they were ready to fire.”
Jackson finds it difficult to see the Redbacks being stopped if they play at the level they did on Saturday night.
“I think we all felt that after we won that game that our energy levels in the locker room were sky high, and at the ultimate level as we belted out our winning song. It was clear that the players could just feel like they are onto something now and the penny might have dropped just how good they can be,” Jackson said.
“Now going into playing against Willetton, I’m confident that we have the pieces that can get it done. We’ve got some bigs, we’ve got some coverages and we have some guys who can probably throw a team off. I’m just confident that when we play the way we did to win that first playoff game, then I know we are really hard to beat.
“I feel like we are a very hard team to match up against and our thing all this year has been about how teams match up against us on the defensive end.
“You talk about Tevin, he can play inside/outside. Marshall can shoot but also go inside and create problems. Wags can really attack the rim and does all the fundamental things to make us click, and he’s like our John Stockton.
“Stop Zac and Louis inside and they can hurt you from outside. We create a lot of problems for other teams. I think that’s where our biggest advantage is.”
Jackson also feels this could very well be the best chance he has had over his journey to become a championship-winning coach.
He initially arrived in Western Australia from California to join the Perth Redbacks as an import in 1990 where he won a championship right away but throughout his 260 games all up that was his only title after stints with Willetton, East Perth and Mandurah.
He would go on to coach at Cockburn, East Perth and the Swan City Mustangs along with a stint as an assistant with the Perth Wildcats in the NBL and then as general manager of the SBL before returning to the coaching chair with the Perry Lakes Hawks.
He got them to the semi-finals in 2016 before again stepping away, but he was lured back to the Redbacks men’s job in 2020 and now he feels despite having gone close as a coach a couple of times before, this could be the best chance to become a championship coach.
“I went to the final four twice when I was coaching Cockburn and we got to the semi-finals when I was coaching the Redbacks the first time, but now it’s all about taking that extra and I think this is the best chance in my coaching career to win a championship,” Jackson said.
“I feel like one of those Cockburn teams probably could have gone further and also at the Redbacks when I had Jamie Baker, Lackovic, Earpy, Stone and all those guys, but this team can be really special.
“I just feel like if we were to play to our full potential again and cover for each other, and hit big shots when they are ready to be hit, and execute offensively and defensively, then we’ll at least give ourselves a chance to play against Perry Lakes.”