It’s a fascinating double-header away from home for the Cockburn Cougars in Round 13 of NBL1 West against the Mandurah Magic and Perry Lakes Hawks with the women trying to stay unbeaten, and the men in the playoff race.
It’s a crucial double-header on a number of fronts for the Cougars with it getting underway against the Magic at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Friday night. The women’s clash begins at 6.30pm followed by the men’s at 8.30pm.
That leads into Saturday evening against Perry Lakes at Bendat Basketball Centre with the women’s match to start at 5pm and the men’s at 7pm.
The Cockburn Cougars put their unbeaten record on the line twice this weekend firstly against the Mandurah Magic and then the Perry Lakes Hawks.
It’s certainly going to be the most challenging weekend of the season so far for the Cougars against two teams who are fighting over a top four position, and with it being on their home floors.
First up and the Cougars play the Magic for the second time in three weeks but they will have back captain Rachel Halleen, the league’s games record holder Casey Mihovilovich and championship coach Vlad Alava who were all missing that night a fortnight ago.
While Cockburn comes into the contest on top of the NBL1 West at 13-0, Mandurah is sitting fourth at 10-5 despite having lost three of the past five matches, including a 21-point defeat to the Cougars at Wally Hagan Stadium back in Round 11.
Friday night’s result will determine whether Perry Lakes then comes into the match up on Saturday night in fourth or fifth position on the table.
A win for Cockburn over Mandurah on Friday, and the Hawks will leap ahead of the Magic into fourth spot. A win for the Magic over the Cougars, would leave Perry Lakes a game behind and needing to win to match pace as they chase a top four position.
It will be the first, and only, time that the Cougars play the Hawks this season with Perry Lakes entering the match up with a 10-5 record on the season having won the past two, and seven of the last nine.
Import guard Nici Gilday has missed the past couple of games for the Hawks but they still have plenty of weapons in the form of Mia Satie, Emma Clarke, Sam Ashby, Maddy Dennis and Ash Isenbarger while being well coached by championship winner Craig Mansfield.
It shapes as a fascinating weekend for the Cougars and coach Tyrone Thwaites is looking forward to it.
“It’s a nice test for us away from home as well. I mean on Friday against Mandurah, we know they’ll be without Carly Boag so while last time we played them they were missing a couple, they’ll be without Carly this time,” Thwaites said.
“But on their home floor they’re a little bit different and obviously we’ve had a look at their game against Warwick on the weekend and that was a very good game from start to finish.
“Then on Saturday against Perry Lakes, we’re not expecting Gilday to play but if she does, you’ve got to play who’s out there. They don’t play on the Friday night unlike us so I know they’ll see Saturday as a good opportunity for them.
“Craig is a very smart coach so I’m sure they’ll chuck some things at us which we haven’t seen yet this year so it will be a good test for us away from home.”
The Cockburn Cougars men have a chance to close in on a top eight position this NBL1 West season when they hit the road to face both the Mandurah Magic and Perry Lakes Hawks this weekend.
At least in terms of the standings, they couldn’t be more contrasting opponents for the Cougars either. First up on Friday night is the bottom placed Magic and then on Saturday it’s the second place Hawks that they will come up against.
Cockburn comes into Round 13 of the NBL1 West season sitting in 10th position on the table with a 6-9 record coming off what was a tough to stomach loss to the East Perth Eagles after being in control most of the evening.
However, playoffs are still well and truly within reach for the Cougars if they start to string wins together and that needs to begin this weekend against the two challenging opponents.
First up, the Cougars will play the Magic in Mandurah with the two teams having only played a fortnight ago at Wally Hagan Stadium with Cockburn scoring the 117-97 victory at home.
On that night there was a lot to like for the Cougars with Courtney Alexander II putting up 26 points and 14 rebounds while Taj Benning contributed 19 points, 13 boards and four assists, Keegan Phillips 12 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Kieran Berry six points and two assists.
While the Magic lost on that night, Ray Turner had 30 points and 15 rebounds with Dequan Abrom adding 26 points and 10 assists. CJ Bobbitt also had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists before being ejected in the third quarter.
Mandurah might be in last place but Cougars coach Andrew Cooper is fully aware of the threat they possess.
“They were pretty good for half the game last time against us and have played pretty well since then,” Cooper said.
“Bobbitt has found his place I think, Abrom is high class and Ray is playing some of the best basketball that he’s played in a while, and looks a lot fitter and is moving a lot better.
“It’s going to be a good test for us and one that is sort of a must win game for us against Mandurah before we roll into Perry Lakes which will be another test in itself, and another one that’s important to get. They’re the teams that we have to be beating above us to catch up on that top eight.”
Then on Saturday night and the Cougars take on the Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre for the first and only occasion of this season.
It’s a Perry Lakes team still coached by former Cockburn championship winning coach Matt Parsons with leaders Ben Purser and Rob Cassir, Grand Final MVP Andrew Ferguson, and quality players Mitch Clarke, Daniel Alexander, Jack Isenbarger and Matt Leary.
It’s a significant test for the Cougars up against the second placed team with great depth and experience, and Cooper is fully aware it will take a full 40 minutes of good basketball to overcome them.
“They’re a well drilled team and Parsons has got them playing some really good basketball again this year,” Cooper said.
“The addition of Mitch Clarke has taken them to the next level and then you’ve got all the veterans around him who just know how to make plays. The one thing with Perry Lakes and that group is that they just don’t quit.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re up by five or 25, they are still going to keep coming so it’s definitely going to be a really good test for our group, and one that we’ll still be rolling into know if we play well we can win. But we’ll certainly have to play 40 minutes and not 35.”