Red­backs stun in grand fi­nal up­set


Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - 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 decade, by 33 points in a 103-70 State Bas­ket­ball League grand fi­nal vic­tory.

Joon­dalup briefly held a two­point lead about 2½min­utes 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 was dis­ap­pointed with the ef­fort, say­ing Perth made Joon­dalup look sec­ond rate in their third­straight 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 and now this.

Perth Red­backs cel­e­brate their grand fi­nal vic­tory.

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