Basketball: Joondalup Wolves light up court in SBL opener

Tip-off in the historic men’s clash. Picture: Michael Farnell, sportsimagery.com.au
Tip-off in the historic men’s clash. Picture: Michael Farnell, sportsimagery.com.au

LED-lit smoke jets, plush corporate boxes, a second-storey bar overlooking the action and arena seating.

It’s the kind of setup State Basketball League fans are used to seeing only on grand final night, but the Joondalup Wolves brought it to the regular season at HBF Arena on Saturday.

More than 700 spectators witnessed history as the Wolves played their first games on their new home court after moving from Joondalup Basketball Stadium (JBS) at the end of last season.

The pre-game amp-up of the crowd stepped up considerably from the days of the JBS.

The lights were cut and the Wolves were introduced on to the court, with green smoke jets blasting either side of them.

Chief executive Cameron Britt labelled it a “terrific start”.

“The response from our members and fans alike has been overwhelmingly positive, a great endorsement for us,” he said,

While the club was aiming for 1000-plus fans at the contest, Britt was still buoyed by the big turnout and said it meant their “substantial effort across pre-game communications proved effective”.

The club would look to improve the audio balance on the next occasion, with the announcer too loud compared with the music.

“We will be making some minor adjustments to audio, just to get some balances right, and we’ll be adding to our pre-game entertainment to boost the overall fan experience and make a night at the Wolves unique,” he said.

The crowd witnessed an exciting 92-86 victory for Joondalup over Willetton in the men’s clash and an 86-67 loss for the women.

The men looked to have found a strong balance of scorers, with imports Brian Sullivan (12 points) and Jalen Billups (25 points, six points) impressing on debut.

Sullivan showed deft touch in crucial moments to drive his way through heavy traffic and looked a player who could do some damage from outside the arc once he settles into the league.

Coach Ben Ettridge could have his own version of the Golden State Warriors’ Splash Brothers on his hands if Sullivan and dangerous shooter Trian Iliadis (eight points, six assists) light up on a regular basis.

Joondalup appeared to be home with a 16-point lead at three-quarter time, but the Tigers threatened to steal the lead late in the game.

In the women’s clash, the Lady Wolfpack was in it up to half-time, but a big third quarter for the visitors put the game out of reach.

The Wolves face Kalamunda away on Saturday night.

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