HAVING been dominant on their home floor during the West Coast Classic, the Perth Redbacks now turn their attention to winning on the road to reach the finals in both competitions starting Saturday night in Rockingham.
The Redbacks have now completed their home games for the West Coast Classic at Belmont Oasis with both the women’s and men’s teams going through undefeated on their home floor to put themselves in a position to reach the finals with three rounds of the competition remaining.
However, with the race for the finals remarkably tight in both the women’s and men’s competitions, it’s likely the Redbacks can’t afford any slip ups on the road now close the season and that gets underway this Saturday night.
The Redbacks head to Mike Barnett Sports Complex to take on the Rockingham Flames with the women’s contest beginning at 6pm and the men’s at 8pm in what shapes as a fascinating night of West Coast Classic basketball.
Starting with the women’s contest in Rockingham on Saturday night and the Redbacks have the task of beating the second placed team coming into Round 7 who just happen to be the reigning SBL champions as well.
However, a big part of Rockingham winning last year’s SBL championship was Maddie Allen who won the Grand Final MVP for her standout performance as the Flames beat the Warwick Senators in the decider.
She is now playing with the Redbacks and this will be her first chance to play against her former team and on her old home court.
Allen has formed a tremendous front court combination at the Redbacks with Jess Jakens already and they will look to give the visitors the edge in that area on Saturday night with Christina Boag holding down the fort with a bunch of young bigs from the Flames.
Tayah Burrows will pose another threat for the Redbacks as point guard for the Flames but Perth has been getting good service and production from Bri Bailey, Sarah Allen and Chanah Crugnale themselves.
All signs point to a tremendous match up with the Redbacks coming into the game with a 6-3 record to be just outside the top four while the Flames at 6-1 in second spot after handing the Joondalup Wolves their first defeat last Saturday night.
A win on Saturday night for the Redbacks and they could very well end the weekend inside the top four ahead of a bye and then finishing the season away to the Lakeside Lightning.
Redbacks coach Craig Allen is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Flames and is sure that is superstar centre Maddie Allen will be up for the task against her former team.
“It will be a big night for Maddie obviously and it’s always a bit of a special occasion playing against your old team, and she has some really fond memories of playing with that group,” Allen said.
“Hopefully we can build memories for her in this environment too. We aren’t going to make too much of that and I won’t make that a focus of our preparation, but you always want to play well but in saying that you should be just as motivated for every other game as well. We’re looking forward to the challenge though.”
Then it’s time for the men’s contest between the Redbacks and Flames at Mike Barnett Sports Complex, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about what lies ahead.
The Redbacks are in a similar position in the men’s competition to the women’s coming into Round 7 sitting in fourth position with a 7-3 record but with Willetton, Joondalup and Rockingham breathing down their necks with a game in hand, they do need to keep on winning.
The Redbacks did well to beat the Kalamunda Eastern Suns to finish the West Coast Classic unbeaten at Belmont Oasis but so far away from home they have beaten Mandurah Magic but suffered losses to the Joondalup Wolves, Perry Lakes Hawks and Warwick Senators.
It will now take a strong effort from the Redbacks this Saturday night to beat the Flames in Rockingham.
The Flames kept their own finals hopes alive last Saturday night as former Redback Jackson Hussey put up 45 points in an upset win over the Wolfpack.
Hussey’s match up now with a similarly athletic and dynamic guard in Marshall Nelson from the Redbacks will be fascinating. While if Flames captain Ryan Godfrey returns, his match up with Joel Wagner will be equally critical.
There are exciting match ups all over the court and with both teams needing to win to keep their finals hopes alive, it’s a game with plenty to look forward to about it.
Redbacks coach CJ Jackson likes the way his team has come together during the West Coast Classic to put themselves at least in the finals mix.
“I think it’s a nice position now with three weeks to go and we need to control our destiny, but our destiny does rely a little bit on a few of the other teams winning or losing now,” Jackson said.
“But we just have to do what we can and take care of business on our end, and see what happens at the end. But all in all if you have a look at where we’re at now, I think we’ve done pretty good and we have a good group.
“They are starting to run the structures that I’ve put in place better and I just think that I’m really confident of what lies ahead for us.”