Real venom as Red­backs take ti­tle

Kalamunda Reporter - - Sport - Mark Don­ald­son

SEN­TI­MEN­TAL favourites aren’t meant to win a cham­pi­onship by trounc­ing the power side, are they?

They’re meant to fight back in a grind­ing tus­sle and steal the ti­tle in the fi­nal mo­ments.

Ap­par­ently no one gave the Perth Red­backs the script at the Ben­dat Bas­ket­ball Cen­tre on Satur­day night.

The suc­cess-starved side broke a 20-year cham­pi­onship drought by thrash­ing the Joon­dalup Wolves, the most suc­cess­ful team of the ’10s, by 33 points in a 103-70 State Bas­ket­ball League grand fi­nal vic­tory.

Joon­dalup briefly held a two­point lead about two and a half min­utes into the first quar­ter, but would be left watch­ing the Red­backs’ tails for the re­main­der of the en­counter.

Perth in­creased its mar­gin at the end of ev­ery pe­riod, hit­ting a game-high buf­fer of 36 points with just un­der two min­utes left in the fi­nal term.

Wolves cap­tain Seb Sali­nas (11 points) was dis­ap­pointed with the ef­fort, say­ing Perth made Joon­dalup look sec­ond rate in their third-straight grand fi­nal ap­pear­ance.

Perth grand fi­nal MVP Lee Roberts (28 points, 17 re­bounds) gave a fit­ting sum­mary of the team’s em­phatic per­for­mance.

“It was fun… we found the mis­matches early and took ad­van­tage of it; they couldn’t han­dle us on the in­side,” the bas­ket­ball jour­ney­man said.

“You have nights where shots are go­ing in and re­bounds are go­ing your way; for­tu­nately it was one of those nights for me.

“It was a beau­ti­ful game – 100 points in 40 min­utes.”

Wild­cats cham­pion Shawn Red­hage (20 points, six re­bounds, six as­sists) did lit­tle to en­dear him­self to the Joon­dalup crowd, re­fut­ing ref­eree de­ci­sions on oc­ca­sion and throw­ing his weight around when given the op­por­tu­nity for the Red­backs.

He pro­duced a solid dis­play, providing op­tions in­side and from mid-range, while not be­ing at his most dom­i­nant.

The re­tired 393-game NBL player now holds one of the most rounded cham­pi­onship CVs in the coun­try with four Wild­cats rings, an Aus­tralian Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion ti­tle in 2005 and Satur­day’s SBL grand fi­nal suc­cess.

He wouldn’t com­mit to nam­ing his favourite de­cider.

“It’s like try­ing to pick your favourite child,” he laughed.

“They’ve all got their spe­cial things about them, it never gets old.

“It’s a great feel­ing, es­pe­cially for this club; we put in our best per­for­mance of the year.

“Just to see the sup­port of the Red­backs hav­ing not won it for 20 years, it’s a spe­cial group to be a part of.”

Red­hage did not rule out re­turn­ing next year but would be tak­ing a wait-and-see ap­proach.

Any chance of a Wolves come­back was snuffed out in the third quar­ter, with Perth tak­ing hold and stretching the lead to 20 points head­ing into the fi­nal pe­riod.

Party time came early in the fourth quar­ter as the 2017 cham­pi­ons pushed the mar­gin out to 30 points with eight min­utes left.

Phys­i­cal play from the out­set, led by the im­pos­ing Roberts, caused plenty of is­sues for the Wolves at­tack.

The Red­backs jumped out to a 12-point lead mid­way through the first quar­ter but the Wolves pegged it back to a five-point mar­gin with nine sec­onds of the quar­ter to go.

A Mar­shall Nel­son (17 points) three-pointer with just two sec­onds left set the Red­backs crowd alight, much to the Wolves’ frus­tra­tion.

Nel­son was the most po­tent man on the court, shoot­ing at 77 per cent from the field.

The sec­ond quar­ter ap­peared a more even af­fair but the Red­backs man­aged to stretch their lead to nine points by half time.

Roberts in­creased his in­ten­sity, tak­ing some huge re­bounds and drop­ping nine points for the quar­ter.

It was a bit­ter de­feat for the Wolves, who have ap­peared in five de­ciders over the past seven sea­sons but lost three of them in­clud­ing back-to-back de­feats in 2016-17.

Perth Red­backs cel­e­brate their grand fi­nal vic­tory.

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