It’s First Nations Round in the NBL1 West and for the Beeliar Boodjar Cougars, there are two massive games firstly on Saturday away to the Willetton Tigers and then on Sunday at home to the Goldfields Giants.
It’s the third last round of the NBL1 West regular season this weekend and it doubles as First Nations Round with the Beeliar Boodjar Cougars getting underway on Saturday against the Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.
The women’s clash between the league’s top two teams tips off at 5pm with the men’s game to follow at 7pm.
The Cougars will then play host to the Goldfields Giants on Sunday at Wally Hagan Stadium with the women’s match beginning at 11am and the men’s to follow at 1pm.
The Beeliar Boodjar Cougars women have a huge weekend ahead in the third last round of the season with the chance to secure a first ever regular season championship.
First up for the Cougars is the clash with the second placed Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday.
The two teams met in the playoffs last year with Willetton ending the season of the Cougars in the semi finals on their way to another grand final appearance.
However, Cockburn got a measure of revenge to open the 2023 season with a 42-point win and will be looking to repeat that dose on Saturday against a Willetton team on an eight-game winning streak.
Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites knows that anytime it’s a battle with Willetton not only is it a tough contest, but it has that added sense of feeling given the local rivalry that exists between the two clubs.
Now considering they are the top two teams in the league and a win for the Tigers would secure them a top two spot while the win for Beeliar Boodjar would lock in the regular season championship, and there’s plenty on the line.
“It is a big game for us but it’s a big game for them too looking to shore up a top two spot if they can win this week,” Thwaites said.
“It’s something they’ll certainly be looking at and every time we play Willetton, it’s a rivalry game so it’s always meaningful in some way, shape or form.
“It’s probably going to be our best hit out at least in terms of ladder positions too before the playoffs so we’ll well and truly be ready. We also know that if we win it probably locks up top spot for us too so it’s a big weekend in a lot of ways, and it will be a fun one for people to watch.”
One Cougars player especially excited for the challenge to take on the experience and quality of the Tigers is 16-year-old tenacious guard Amelia Corasaniti.
In fact the bigger the occasion or the tougher the opponent, she more she looks forward to it.
“I think it will be a very good game coming in towards the end of the year with a big two match up,” Corasaniti said.
“But if we just stay focused and know what we want to do, it will be good. It’s going to be a good game I’m sure and the hard games are the most fun ones to play in so I’m excited for it.”
The Beelier Boodjar Cougars men know the only way to stay in the NBL1 West playoff hunt is to continue winning in both games this weekend away to the Willetton Tigers and at home to the Goldfields Giants.
It was yet another near miss last Saturday night for the Cougars at home to the Perth Redbacks in a game they were in control of for three quarters, but then had a rough fourth quarter to end up losing 106-102 in what was a dramatic, and somewhat controversial finish.
That leaves Beeliar Boodjar now sitting on a 7-11 record this season with four games and three rounds to go, and in a position where the only way to stay in the playoff hunt is to win all four of those remaining matches.
That puts extra emphasis on the trip to Willetton Basketball Stadium on Saturday with the Cougars not only wanting to keep their season alive, but also make up for that horror loss to open the season by 42 points to the Tigers.
Coach Andrew Cooper sure hasn’t forgotten that and is looking for his team to respond, and for Courtney Alexander II to show the way up against South East Melbourne Phoenix NBL centre Gorjok Gak.
“We’d like to say that what we showed in that first game against isn’t a true reflection for us on the season whereas I think we got Willetton pretty much at their best,” Cooper said.
“That’s pretty much what they’ve showed the rest of the season. It’s definitely about a bit of redemption but we also have backs against the wall, and don’t have a choice but to win now.
“There’s going to be the onus on guys like Courtney who got outplayed by Gak in Week 1 to come out and really prove why he’s in this league, and what he can offer us and show what he can do.”
Following that clash with the Tigers on Saturday, the Cougars men are home to the Giants on Sunday at Wally Hagan Stadium.
Goldfields comes into the round with a 6-12 record having lost six of the past seven matches, but the Giants did come off a 31-point win in Kalgoorlie against the South West Slammers last Saturday night despite the continued absence of Lafonzo Smith.
A lot will depend on what happens on Saturday night, but Cooper knows it’s a must-win game for the Cougars.
“We basically do have to win everything from now on and Goldfields are hurting a bit with Smith out, and we get them on the back end of a double-header,” Cooper said.
“I don’t want to look too far past Willetton right now, but it’s clearly going to be another must-win game.”