Cougars Round 12 NBL1 West Preview

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It’s a combination of being out for a measure and revenge and wanting to make a statement for the Cockburn Cougars when the Joondalup Wolves come to Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Cougars are back home at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night in Round 12 of the NBL1 West 2022 season with two tantalising match ups against the Joondalup Wolves.

The Women’s match up begins proceedings at 5.30pm followed by the Men’s contest at 7.30pm.

The Women’s game on Saturday night provides an opportunity for the Cougars to make a real statement of their intentions this season by handing the Wolves their first loss but also earning a measure of revenge for what happened in their last meeting.

Cockburn comes into the game fresh off a terrific 108-87 victory last Saturday night against the Lakeside Lightning which improved them to a 7-4 record on the season to be knocking on the door of a top four spot.

Meanwhile, Joondalup arrives at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night on top of the table with a perfect 13-0 record on the back of playing in last year’s Grand Final and winning the West Coast Classic championship in 2020.

Last time the two teams met was at HBF Arena back on June 11 and on that night it was the Wolfpack beating the Cougars 101-89.

Teige Morrell was a dominant force inside for the Wolves with 30 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Chelsea Belcher scored a season-best 26 points with Kiara Phillips also having her career-high 18 points and Nes’eya Parker-Williams adding 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

While it was a tough loss for the Cougars on the road that night, but Alina Hartmann put up 24 points and five rebounds with Jewel Williams contributing 18 points and nine assists, Kat Tudor 13 points and eight boards, and Jessie Edwards 12 points and six rebounds.

Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites took plenty of lessons out of that loss particularly the way that the Wolves took Cockburn out of their usual up-tempo, high-octane three-point shooting offensive style.

That was fully on display in last week’s win over Lakeside where the Cougars put up 108 points on the back of shooting 22/53 from three-point range with Thwaites now hoping to see it all come together again in what could be a statement performance against the Wolves.

“It would be nice to give them that first loss and I know that we certainly play a lot better at home where we are 5-0 this year,” Thwaites said.

“We know they are very good, but we were terrible the last time we played them there’s no doubt in my mind. That was partly because they made things difficult for us and disrupted us a fair bit.

“I think we shot close to the least amount of threes for the year up in Joondalup, I think we shot 28 and for most teams that’s about right. But for us it’s well under what we want to get up.

“We know they like to stifle our pace and that’s what we’re good at, we want to get up about 80 shots a game and they kept us to 68 last time.

“We do want to certainly make a stamp on the competition this weekend but we are very conscious we need to focus on what we’ve been doing well and what we need to keep improving. Not just the outcome Saturday night.”

That leads into the Men’s contest on Saturday night with the Cougars coming into the game on a three-game winning streak while the Wolves have won their past four.

That means Cockburn is in fifth position on the NBL1 West Men’s standings with an 8-5 record while Joondalup is fourth at 10-3 providing a chance for the Cougars to further close in on a top four position.

A win for the Cougars on Saturday night and they are just one game behind the Wolves and fourth position while a loss would make it a challenge to stay in the hunt for a top four spot.

Nobody at the Cougars would have forgotten the last meeting at HBF Arena back in Round 9 either where Cockburn controlled virtually the whole match before ending up narrowly losing 87-86.

There was a lot to like about the performance from the Cougars despite the one-point loss in the finish with Gavin Field putting up 27 points and 11 rebounds. Seva Chan added 15 points, Carter Skaggs 12 points and eight boards, and Josh Hunt 11 points.

Meanwhile, former Cougars championship winner Julian Pesava had 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists in that win for the Wolfpack while CJ Turnage had 21 points and six boards, Sioeli Vaiangina 13 points and seven rebounds, and Maris Colton 13 points and five boards.

That leads into a fascinating rematch on Saturday night with the Cougars looking to keep their strong form going and to get revenge on the Wolves for that loss, and to enhance their top four hopes in the process.