window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-C0NEPLQW4Z');

Round 2 Cougars Wrap – Mixed night on road to Slammers

Share this article

It’s always tricky playing the South West Slammers on the road on a Friday night and the Cockburn Cougars women came away with the 101-45 victory but the men went down 89-77.

Both Cougars teams opened the 2024 NBL1 West season with home victories against the Mandurah Magic back on Easter Thursday leading into the Friday night Round 2 visit to the Eaton Recreation Centre against the Slammers.

The Cougars will now turn their attention to playing host to the Kalamunda Eastern Suns back at Wally Hagan Stadium this Saturday.


Alex Ciabattoni was on deck and the Cockburn Cougars kept on winning to start the 2024 season beating the South West Slammers 101-45 on Friday night.

Cockburn arrived at Eaton Recreation Centre on Friday night having won seven straight against the Slammers by an average of more than 56 points, and it was more of the same.

While the Cougars were still without reigning Grand Final MVP Steph Gorman and import pair Daniel Raber and Maria Blazejewski along with young guns Amelia Corasaniti and Kinley Paterson, they did welcome back experienced Perth Lynx WNBL guard Ciabattoni.

Ciabattoni was also a player-coach at the Slammers last season so made her Cougars debut against her former team and she formed quite the potent back court combination with Jewel Williams.

Already by quarter-time and Cockburn had opened up a 27-11 advantage with the lead growing to 53-23 by the half-time interval.

The Cougars advantage was 38 points by three quarter-time and then Cockburn outscored South West 23 points to five in the fourth quarter to claim the eventual 56-point win to make it eight consecutive wins dating back to last season.

Ciabattoni delivered 26 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in her first game for the Cougars with Williams producing another 23 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Centre Jessie Edwards also had 15 points and 10 rebounds with Jaya Scafidi contributing 12 points, nine boards, four steals and three assists, and Abbey Hall 11 points and three rebounds.

Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites did see some things in the season opener against the Magic he wanted to improve on and he saw good signs against the Slammers on Friday.

“It was good. We knew it was going to be different, they have two imports now and are a lot better,” Thwaites said.

“It’s always difficult travelling down there on a Friday night but there were certain things we really wanted to focus in on that we didn’t do the week before.

“We thought it was the perfect match up for us to be able to do that, particularly in transition. We knew they would get up and down really quickly  so being able to hone in on that was really useful.”

Friday night was the first opportunity for the back court of Williams and Ciabattoni to play together.

The fact they combined for 49 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists was exciting, but Thwaites feels it’s only just the beginning of what the whole back court can produce.

“The early signs of the high IQ when they got going together in transition in particular when Chib was playing through the middle of the floor was really fun to watch,” he said.

“Now with Steph returning  that will add another dynamic to it, and then when Kinley and Amelia get back from nationals to complement them along with Jaya Scafidi, there’s really impressive depth through the guard spots for us.”

A bonus of the Cougars starting the season not yet at full power is the opportunities it’s providing for other players to show how much they have improved, and to grab their opportunities.

The performance of Jaya Scafidi over the first two weeks has been particularly exciting for Thwaites as she had another 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists as a starter on Friday night.

“It’s a really good opportunity to see who’s made a little bit of a jump and who is ready for this level,” Thwaites said.

“To see the work Jaya has put in over the off-season and come in to have the first two weeks she has, after virtually 20 months out of the game,  has been a real challenge for her.

“To come in the way she has is really exciting, and once we’re back at full strength it will be good to see how hard she plays in shorter bursts. That’s going to be really fun and she’s an exciting talent, and one we’re really going to keep our eyes on over the next 12 months.”


It didn’t turn out a night to remember for the Cockburn Cougars men with Gavin Field injuring an ankle after five minutes and the South West Slammers ending up winning 89-77.

Cockburn did win last Thursday at home to the Mandurah Magic, but the Slammers beat them late last season at Eaton Recreation Centre and were looking to repeat the dose.

The Slammers’ cause was helped when the Cougars lost club great Field to an ankle injury five minutes into the contest, but it was still a tight first half with Cockburn narrowly leading 40-39 at the break.

However, South West worked its way on top throughout the second half outscoring the Cougars 50 points to 37 to open up a 12-point lead which was the final margin to open their account for 2024.

Rhys Vague top-scored with 23 points and nine rebounds with Kiwi Riley Bensemann putting up 13 points and five boards.

Kyle Armour added 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals but the loss of Field early in the game with Seva Chan still absent proved tough to cover.

Heading south to play the Slammers on a Friday can always prove a challenge and then Mathiang Muo being out there to play with South West proved a surprise, but whatever the reason, Clayden doesn’t want to hear any excuses for what was a flat performance from the Cougars.

“It was probably a good learning curve for us and as a coach, you have to find some positives and the Slammers did a great job of taking us out of what we wanted to do and we didn’t do well to adjust or adapt,” he said.

“Then losing someone like Gav early on hurts your offence and makes their life a little bit easier, and we had guys we’d expect to step up who couldn’t and some of them got themselves in foul trouble or were just having a bad game.

“What we’ve prided ourselves on over the pre-season is having a next person up mentality and on Friday we just didn’t get that. That’s something we need to address moving forward and get better at, it’s as simple as that.”

Cockburn were also dealt a blow five minutes into the game when Field rolled his ankle. Clayden wouldn’t let him come back on the rest of the game but the decision on him for Saturday’s game against the Eastern Suns won’t be made until later in the week.

“He did come over to me at half-time and said that he thought he could give it a go going back out there, but I just told him to sit back down and rest it,” Clayden said.

“He’ll sit out our first training session this week, get some physio again on Wednesday and then we’ll make a call on Thursday with him. I don’t really know, but I’ll speak to our physio when we collect all the information before getting back on the court.

“Fingers cross if he can get out on the court on Thursday he might be able to play. It didn’t look good when he first came off but by half-time he was feeling a lot more confident.

“It’s just a bit bruised and there’s no swelling at the moment so we’re hoping he might be right. Being a Saturday game does give us that extra 24 hours which is always a positive.”

Perhaps the best positive from the night was the performance of New Zealander Bensemann in just his second NBL1 game.

He might have arrived late into pre-season, but Clayden couldn’t have been more impressed with him from the outset.

“Riley B has just been amazing since joining us. We made him no promises when he came on down and he didn’t expect anything, he just wanted to come in and work hard and then his first 10 days here were that really hot patch,” Clayden said.

“The poor guy was rocking up to training and almost passing out, but you could tell he got better each session and the thing we like the most about him is that he asks really good questions.

“He has a really good basketball IQ and he might not be the most gifted guy athletically or skills wise, but he just thinks about the game well and does the little things so well.”

It was an important game to bring new import centre Morant into the line-up for the first time for the Cougars too after he just arrived during the week.

Clayden only expects him to keep improving now.

“D is only going to get better and better. Unfortunately he got pretty sick when he went home from Hong Kong which wasn’t great for him,” Clayden said.

“He was in bed for nearly two weeks so that put him back a little bit so it was always going to take a little bit of time for him to get into it. He’s never played in a league like this before so it’s going to be a lot more physical than he’s used to.

“It will take him a couple of weeks, but he’s been nothing but positive and is working out with coaches during the week, getting shots up and we’re hoping that once he gets acclimatised he’ll have a significant impact. We love his athleticism and we love his attitude at the moment.”

Major Partner - Dentistry Plus