Round 4 West Coast Classic Preview

The Perth Redbacks put their unbeaten records this West Coast Classic at Belmont Oasis on the line on Friday night when hosting the Willetton Tigers in two tantalising match ups.

The Redbacks women’s and men’s teams have had somewhat up and down rides so far over the opening three weeks of the West Coast Classic, but on their home floor at Belmont Oasis they have yet to taste defeat.

That gets put to the test this Friday night in the Redbacks’ only appearance in Round 4 when the Tigers come to town.

The women’s match tips off at 6.30pm before the men’s contest will then begin at 8.30pm.

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The Redbacks women enter Friday night’s clash with the Tigers with both teams looking to keep their top four hopes alive.

The Redbacks currently hold a 3-2 record having recorded wins against the Mandurah Magic, Cockburn Cougars and East Perth Eagles while losing to the Joondalup Wolves and Perry Lakes Hawks.

The Tigers, meanwhile, have just the one win on the board so far from their four matches which came against the Magic on their redeveloped home floor at Willetton Basketball Stadium. But they have suffered losses at the hands of the Hawks, Eastern Suns and Lightning also.

There’s plenty of reasons to think it will be a fascinating contest including the battle of bigs between Redbacks star and Perth Lynx WNBL re-signing Maddie Allen against Willetton young gun Imogen Ayliffe.

You then have club captains Jess Jakens and Desiree Kelley who always give their respective teams a chance to win while both sides will be looking to plenty of young talent to again step up for them in this West Coast Classic.

The coaching battle is also one that pits two men with great familiarity with each other against one another with Simon Parker still in charge at Willetton and his long-time assistant Craig Allen now in his second season at the helm of the Redbacks.

It’s the second straight Friday night at Belmont that sees Allen come up against a familiar foe. Last week it was fellow former Willetton assistant Blake Srdarev at the Eagles, and now it’s Parker, and he is looking forward to the challenge.

“We had a chat about that actually and it’s great to see that develop of coaches come through, and obviously we both have learned a lot from working under Simon and our time in general at Willetton,” Allen said.

“I wish Blake all the best, I’m good mates with him and we have worked together a lot in the past so it’s really nice to see him get these opportunities and I have no doubt he will be successful going forward. Now we’ve got Simon this week so that will be good and I’ll have another little chat with him to see how we go.”

Given Allen’s remarkable history of involvement as a player, physiotherapist and coach with the Willetton Tigers, it will never be just another opponent for him, but once the ball is bounced, it’s all about trying to get another win on the board for the Redbacks.

“I have been here now for about 18 months and I have that real focus on where I want to get to with this group, but it’s always going to be a bit weird and different playing against Willetton just because I was there for 20-odd years as a coach and it’s where I played my whole junior career,” Allen said.

“It is always a bit different and awkward, but I think the reality of it is remains that I have a real focus on what I want to achieve with this group, and a commitment on where the club is going and I’m committed on that direction. I’m very happy where I am.”

Then it will be an equally fascinating contest in the men’s match to follow between the Redbacks and Tigers.

The Redbacks are coming off two wins last weekend both at Belmont Oasis overrunning the East Perth Eagles on Friday night and then winning on the buzzer over the Geraldton Buccaneers on Saturday thanks to a Marshall Nelson three-point bomb.

That has the Redbacks knocking on the door of breaking into the top four with a 4-2 record making Friday night’s contest all the more important.

The Tigers will be equally desperate for the win too as they come into the weekend with a 2-2 record so a win puts them in the top four hunt while a defeat will make life for them decidedly difficult.

There will be exciting match ups all over the court as well and none more so than the battle of the shooting guards between Caleb White of the Redbacks and Damien Scott of the Tigers.

You’ve then got the battle of bigs with former Redback Lewis Thomas playing for Willetton up against Dennis Tawhiti and then in the point guard role, it’s the SBL’s all-time assists leader Joel Wagner leading the Redbacks against Tigers young gun Connor Mincherton.

So there’s plenty to watch out for and with a lot at stake in terms of the result as well, and with it being the Redbacks’ only game of Round 4, it’s a contest you won’t want to miss at Belmont Oasis on Friday night.

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