SBL grand final: Perth Redbacks take comprehensive title

The Redbacks celebrate the grand final win. Picture: Michael Farnell,
Grand final MVP Lee Roberts at the free throw line.
The Redbacks celebrate the grand final win. Picture: Michael Farnell, Grand final MVP Lee Roberts at the free throw line.

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 two-point 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 last night’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 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.

Joondalup sharp shooter Trian Iliadis (five points) found limited opportunity and did not score his first points until hitting a foul shot with four minutes left in the half.

Ben Ironmonger capped off a breakout season after returning from a knee reconstruction to be the Wolves’ leading scorer with 15 points.

US import Ryan Wright had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

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.