SBL: Joondalup Wolves coach Ben Ettridge in airport hustle after grand final

Coach Ben Ettridge. Picture: Serene Maisey
Coach Ben Ettridge. Picture: Serene Maisey

THE pressure situation for Joondalup Wolves coach Ben Ettridge won’t end with the final buzzer in the State Basketball League grand final on Saturday night.

The championship-winning mentor will find himself in a race against airport schedules, as he looks to make a midnight flight en route to Rio de Janeiro for the Paralympic Games as coach of Australia’s wheelchair basketball team.

Ettridge is well versed in the juggling act that comes with his SBL commitments and those of the Rollers.

But on this occasion, the act has come down to the wire.

Never one to be overawed, he had little concern about the risk of missing the plane despite the potential of grand final proceedings extending past 10pm, particularly if the contest goes to overtime.

“Fingers crossed the game goes to plan,” he said.

“We’ve got a bit of leeway because it’s a domestic flight first so we’ll be checking in online.

“There’s no real stress – it’s not like it’ll be half-time and I’ll be looking at my watch thinking ‘I’ve got to go’.

“If we left there at 11pm, we’d still be on the flight so no pressure there really.

“They’re (Rollers) going to have about 36 hours in the village without me, so it’s instilling in them the confidence that there’s a process in place – they’re going to have four assistant coaches there with them, a manager and a physio.”

Ettridge was fortunate the Paralympic schedule was accommodating to SBL finals fixtures this time around. In 2012, he coached the Wolves to a season where they lost just three games and were hotly tipped to win the title.

But his commitments to the London Games left him unavailable for the play-offs and the Wolves were eliminated in the semi-finals.

“This time’s a bit different knowing that I was right here through to the grand final,” he said.

“The Wolves boys – fourth grand final in six years – we’ve got 300 gamers, 250 gamers and guys that have been around for a long time – the week’s managed itself.”

He credited chief executive Cameron Britt, chief operating officer Ryan Thompson and team manager Donna Ironmonger for “handling a lot of the peripheral stuff, which in the past has fallen into my lap”.