The Perth Redbacks men head to Geraldton to take on a Buccaneers team on Saturday night that can’t be taken lightly even if they are out of the NBL1 West playoff hunt.
Round 15 in the NBL1 West competition sees the Redbacks women with the bye and a chance to refresh and recharge with an 8-6 record on the season on the back of beating the Lakeside Lightning.
They are knocking on the door of a top-four finish and will resume their season in Round 16 away to the Kalamunda Eastern Suns next Saturday night in what shapes as a fascinating match-up.
The Redbacks men, however, will be busy this Saturday night taking on the Geraldton Buccaneers at Active West Stadium from 7.30pm.
The Redbacks come into the contest with a 10-5 record on the season and they have every right to call themselves the form team of the NBL1 West Men’s Division right now.
They’ve won four straight matches now against the Lakeside Lightning, Willetton Tigers, Joondalup Wolves and then the Buccs back on Sunday June 27.
Going back further than that and the Redbacks have won eight of their past nine matches, and on the back of a slow start to the season losing four of the opening six games, they are really stringing some impressive form together.
Sitting with that 10-5 record coming into this weekend’s clash with the Buccs, if the Redbacks keep winning they very well could end up in a top-four position with a run home with games against Kalamunda, Mandurah, Lakeside, Cockburn and Goldfields.
The Redbacks are fresh off an 89-77 win last Saturday night at home to the Lightning and that came without Marshall Nelson who is expected to be back in the line-up for this week’s trip to Geraldton.
The Buccs are out of the playoff hunt and will also be without championship-winning greats of the club, Aaron Ralph and Mat Wundenberg (and their combined 860 games of experience) in this game.
But the Redbacks won’t be writing them off given the Buccs’ performances last weekend.
Without Ralph and Wundenberg, (and no opportunity to bring any new arrivals in town due to COVID-19), they knocked off the East Perth Eagles on Saturday night and then pushed the Warwick Senators all the way on Sunday afternoon before a narrow defeat.
While down on manpower, with a starting five of import guard Elijah Barbour, Kiwi forward Taine Wattie, quality point guard Brandon Holloway, young big Will Galvin and then the superstar talents of Mathiang Muo, the Buccs do have plenty to work with.
Coach Dayle Joseph acknowledges the challenges his team has faced this year, but is just hoping to finish on a positive note over the last month.
“We probably don’t have long enough to go through everything what we’ve been through this year to be fair. We started looking to build our team back in November and had players ready to go who pulled out,” Joseph said.
“We sweated on imports hoping that door would open and it didn’t. A couple of players were prepared to commit and then didn’t, and that continued last week.
“We had someone coming over from Melbourne but then on Wednesday the border closed and then even on Saturday we had someone who was prepared to come over from New Zealand, but airport issues meant they couldn’t get out.
“Even coming down to the weekend our goal was to make sure everyone got better. Harry or Tom didn’t hit the court, but I think hopefully they learned something from seeing how hard we played and what’s required to play in these circumstances.
“Hopefully they take something from that and same with Elijah, I don’t know if he’ll stay around or not, but the idea is to make him a better player by the time he leaves us and it’s the same with Mathiang.
“Whatever happens, we hope every player gets better over the remaining time we have together and hopefully we improve as a team, and can pinch some wins along the way.”