IT is just the Perth Redbacks men in action in Round 8 of the West Coast Classic and it presents a chance to all but lock in a finals berth on a challenging trip to Kalgoorlie to take on the Goldfields Giants.
The Redbacks women have the bye in Round 8 of the West Coast Classic to gear up for a big finish away to the Lakeside Lightning in the final weekend but for the men this Saturday night it could very well be a season-defining contest against the Giants.
Coming into the second last round of the West Coast Classic, the Redbacks sit in third position with an 8-3 record while the Giants aren’t far behind in seventh spot but a 6-4 record.
That sets the stage for what should be a tantalising match up between two in-form teams and a win for the Redbacks will go a long way to securing a spot in the West Coast Classic finals while a win for the Giants will keep them in the hunt.
The Redbacks have now played their last game of the season at Belmont Oasis where they went through undefeated during the West Coast Classic, and they started the run on the road impressively last Saturday night beating the Rockingham Flames.
There was a lot to like about that showing from the Redbacks against quality opposition led by Jackson Hussey and Ryan Godfrey.
The Redbacks came away with the 112-96 on the back of 32 points and six assists from Marshall Nelson, and 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists for Tevin Jackson.
That result meant that the Redbacks have now not only won their last two games and six of the last seven going back further after starting the West Coast Classic with just two wins from the first four matches.
That all points to the Redbacks being one of the form teams in the competition and there’s no doubt should they end up reaching the finals they could do some real damage.
But getting into the top four in a 14-team competition is anything but an easy feat and the result on Saturday night Kalgoorlie will go a long way to determine whether the Redbacks feature in the finals action or not in this West Coast Classic.
Standing in the way of the Redbacks on Saturday night will be the on-fire Giants at Niels Hansen Basketball Stadium.
After a shaky start to the West Coast Classic on the road to the Warwick Senators with a 48-point loss, the Giants have been impressive ever since even if they did still lose a close one next up to the Perry Hawks.
The Giants then returned to Kalgoorlie and won their next two games against the Eastern Suns and Flames before another weekend with two narrow defeats but encouraging performances on the road to Cockburn and Willetton
But since then the Giants haven’t lost a game to be on a four-game winning streak heading into them hosting the Redbacks on Saturday night.
It started with a nine-point home win against the Wolfpack and then also at home they beat the Lightning by nine points before continuing their form on the road last weekend beating the Slammers by six points and the Magic by 14.
So with the Giants in good form as well, they know they need to keep winning to be any chance of reaching the finals coming into the clash with the Redbacks.
There are some fascinating match ups all over the court and it’s a big test for the front court of the Redbacks with the Giants’ great strength becoming their ‘Twin Towers’ of Mayo Malek and Majier Garang.
Malek is in his second season with the Giants and averaging 20.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a game while Garang is a former Redback who has made the move to Kalgoorlie and is putting up 13.5 points and 13.9 boards a game.
The other strength of the Giants is the rest of their starting five with Damon Ballantyne, Jerome Reid and Fletcher Klasztorny all in career-best form.
But it’s not as if it’s not an exciting and talented Redbacks squad either that’s heading to Kalgoorlie.
There is former NBL talent in Joel Wagner, Marshall Nelson and Tevin Jackson with each of them in terrific form with Wagner running the point as well as ever as the SBL’s all-time assists leader.
Nelson is in as good dynamic scoring form as ever too going at 20.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game while Jackson is back to his all-round best delivering 13.5 points, 6.2 boards and 2.9 assists a game.
Add in the scoring punch of Caleb White’s 18.1 points a game, the size and experience of Dennis Tawhiti inside and the emergence of Michael Riley, Ethan Vlahov and a host of others, and this is an exciting Redbacks group trying to lock in a finals group.