Basketball: Joondalup Wolves stars set for big start to SBL season

Calm before the storm: the new court was in low key mode when Joondalup faced the Wildcats development side in a practice game.
Calm before the storm: the new court was in low key mode when Joondalup faced the Wildcats development side in a practice game.

ONE of the biggest regular season crowds the Joondalup Wolves have ever seen is expected when they face the Willetton Tigers at the opening of their new home at HBF Arena on Saturday.

The State Basketball League returns this weekend, with the Wolves looking for a big start in their quest for the title after back-to-back grand final losses.

And it doesn’t come much bigger than standing centre stage as your club launches a total overhaul of the game-night experience in front of a forecast 1000-plus fans.

With tickets only available at the door, Wolves chief executive Cameron Britt has one message – get there early.

“For two metro clubs, that’s as big as it gets crowd-wise,” he said.

“So we’re planning and preparing with Venueswest staff… to deliver a premium fan experience.

“There is an element of ‘suck it and see’ as well, but we are really excited, that’s for sure.”

The new stadium can seat 700 people, with multiple standing zones including the bar and club balcony “comfortably” stretching that number to 800.

But Britt said 1000 fans to christen their new home would be an “interesting night”.

Joondalup had strong sales with its new corporate boxes and a better-than-expected uptake of its membership package.

The Wolves will also unveil their 2018 imports Jalen Billups and Brian Sullivan on Saturday.

The club has had a tough time finding the right mix of imports in recent seasons, leading to multiple mid-season line-up changes.

But Britt was confident they had found a pair that would remain with the side from start to finish.

Billups arrives after a standout season as a power player with the Cockburn Cougars, while Sullivan’s resume at Davidson College includes sitting second behind NBA star Stephen Curry in career made three-pointers.

The team had originally poached scoring machine Dwayne Benjamin from the Geraldton Bucaneers but visa complications prevented the plan coming to fruition.

In the women’s competition, the Wolves welcome back star scorer Amy Kidner from a year in the UK and have recruited one of her former US college teammates in Kourteney Zadina from North Colorado University.

But the team has lost one of its key players in Klara Wischer, who has returned to the Hobart Chargers in the SEABL.

The Wolves had an early exit from the finals last year by their lofty standards and will be looking to claim their first title since 2013.

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