The Perth Redbacks women are confident of rewarding themselves for earning a home final and the club as a whole for their support in Friday night’s semi-final match up with the Cockburn Cougars.
The Redbacks put together a strong regular season to see them finish in third position in the standings of the NBL1 West Women’s Division. This meant they were guaranteed a home final this weekend no matter what happened in last Friday’s qualifying final against the Joondalup Wolves.
It’s fair to say that clash a week ago at HBF Arena Joondalup didn’t go to plan for the Redbacks women and the Wolfpack handed them a 90-48 defeat, but now is where having such a strong regular season comes into play.
The Redbacks are back home at Belmont Oasis this Friday night to host the Cockburn Cougars in the semi-final with the winner to advance to Saturday’s preliminary final against the Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The winner of that will advance to next Friday night’s Grand Final at Bendat Basketball Centre so the scenario for the Redbacks is simple – win twice this weekend and a spot in their first Grand Final since 2001 is secure.
Coming off the disappointment of last week’s loss away to the Wolves in the qualifying final, the Redbacks haven’t shirked away from reviewing what went wrong.
But rather than stew over it, they’ve used it to make a commitment to not let the things that went wrong happen again.
“I think basically we reviewed the game pretty much knowing the disappointment in how we performed and addressing some of the values that we subscribe to as a club and as a team,” said coach Craig Allen.
“We very much focused on addressing on those areas where we let ourselves down in that regard and then very much made a commitment within the group to ourselves, and to the club that we will fulfil our values and focus areas moving forward basically.”
Fresh off the disappointment of that loss back on Friday night, the majority of the Redbacks women’s team went along to Warwick Stadium on Saturday night to provide great, and vocal, support for the men’s team.
The end result was a tremendous performance from the men to beat the Warwick Senators 111-88 to keep their season alive and Allen actually feels that could have been just what his team needed to raise his spirit.
What it also meant that the Redbacks join the Willetton Tigers as the only two clubs with both their women’s and men’s teams still alive in the NBL1 West season which is something the entire organisation should be proud of.
“I absolutely think Saturday night would have raised their spirits. I know most of the girls went along to support the men and the feedback was they had a great time, and they got to watch them perform extremely,” Allen said.
“Hopefully that can create some sort of positive for the whole club coming into this weekend now. It’s an awesome result for us to be one of only two clubs with two teams in the top six of both competitions so that’s a terrific achievement for the club and something that everybody at the club should be really proud of.
“So we need to move on from the disappointment last week to take a positive approach into this week knowing the excitement that’s around where the club is heading.”
The Redbacks women actually won just four of nine matches at home this season while winning seven of nine on the road during the regular season.
However, despite that, the comforts of home should provide a boost for the Redbacks as they prepare to take on a Cougars team fresh off an upset elimination final win of their own against the Rockingham Flames on the road last Friday night.
“We are looking forward to getting to play at home and we are hoping to showcase how well we are capable of playing on our home court now as well,” Allen said.
“It’s a good recognition of what we’ve achieved so far that we get to play at home and acknowledgment that we did actually finish in that top four which was one of the goals coming into the year. Hopefully we now can do getting that final at home justice now.”
The Redbacks and Cougars did meet in the final round of the regular season two weeks ago also at Belmont Oasis with Perth recording a strong and impressive 77-65 on that night.
There was plenty to like about that performance from the Redbacks with 19 points and seven rebounds from captain Jess Jakens while Maddie Allen had 17 points, 11 boards and six assists, Makailah Dyer 17 points, six assists and five rebounds, Bri Bailey 10 points, and Shenae Hartree six points and seven boards.
However, Cockburn came out a much different team to beat the Flames last week and on the back of a dominant 31 points and 11 rebounds from Jessie Edwards, Allen knows the Redbacks should be expecting a tougher test than two weeks ago.
No matter what, though, as long as the Redbacks play the way they are asked to play, and that they give their all, Allen will be a proud coach of his group.
“I’m expecting Cockburn to be a very different team than we saw two weeks ago. They performed extremely well last week, and were up and about, and played a very good brand of basketball so we expect them to come out firing again this week the same way,” Allen said.
“The challenge for us is to counter that and hopefully perform our game ultimately. It’s up to us to perform the way we are capable of now.
“You are always a bit of nervous about any game especially now that they are cut-throat, but we know what we are capable of and that our best can challenge anybody in the competition. We know that if we come out and perform to our ability then we should get the result we’re hoping for.
“At the end of the day if we get beaten by a better team on the day that’s what happens in finals, but we have to make sure we play up to our ability to give ourselves a chance at that ultimate result, and I’m 100 per cent confident we can achieve that.”