SBL: Joondalup Wolves’ Seb Salinas and Damian Matacz in big milestones

Seb Salinas. Picture: Michael Farnell, sportsimagery.com.au
Seb Salinas. Picture: Michael Farnell, sportsimagery.com.au

IT takes rare commitment to reach a 400-game milestone in semi-professional sport.

You need to return each year with elite ability, while juggling life outside your chosen game, and in the case of the State Basketball League, you need to do this for well beyond a decade.

This has been the lifestyle of Joondalup Wolves captain Seb Salinas for the past 15 years.

The 33-year-old will become a quadruple centurion on Saturday against the Lakeside Lightning at HBF Arena, while remaining an integral part of the best team in the competition.

And he’ll do so the same night that another club champion, Damian Matacz, reaches his 350th appearance.

Damian Matacz. Picture: Michael Farnell

Salinas attributed his longevity to a combination of fitness, family support and the success of the Wolves.

He is featuring in his 16th straight season this year, with his only extended period on the sidelines being when he broke his foot and missed about 10 games.

“I’ve been pretty lucky with not having a serious injury,” he said.

“Having my wife and family being super supportive in letting me play this long has really helped as well.

“And another major thing is the club’s sustained success over the years… if you’re winning, it makes it a lot easier to show up every week.”

The Phys Ed teacher has enjoyed two championships at Joondalup since switching to the side in 2010 after seven years with the Stirling Senators.

He holds those titles in high regard but conceded it was a frustration having lost more grand finals than he had won.

The Wolves have played in five of the last seven deciders and been defeated in three of them.

“They definitely sting; it’s one thing making the grand final but when you’ve lost more than you’ve won, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” he said.

“Especially the last couple of ones where we definitely didn’t play our best basketball… when you know you’re better than what you produced on the night, it does make it a lot harder.”

Salinas recalled the 2011 championship win against Perry Lakes as a “tough game” and credited an outstanding performance from Perth Wildcats vice-captain and now Rockingham Flames rival Greg Hire as carrying them to the triumph.

The emphatic 2015 grand final victory over South West was the “culmination of many years of off-court work” that coach Ben Ettridge had brought to the club.

“Being the captain of that one as well made it a little bit sweeter,” he said.

The renowned outside shooter said he was taking a year-by-year approach to basketball with no idea of when he would land his last triple for the Wolves.

The speed of the game in 2018 has left him searching for new ways to contribute to the team given he’s “not getting any faster”.

“It’s (about) playing a lot smarter and using my experience… using my leadership, especially on the defensive end,” he said.

“Although my shooting hasn’t been the greatest this year, I just try and pick my spots and shoot the ball when I’m open.

“I feel like I can still contribute on that part.”

Salinas’ long-time teammate Matacz, at age 39, has taken much longer to accumulate his milestone given he spent time playing overseas and in the NBL.

Matacz retired in 2013 and returned in 2015 to play his 300th SBL game, saying that year would be his final season.

But it wasn’t his final year; he has since played in three-straight grand finals and the hunger remains for a fourth appearance with the Wolves appearing well on target to achieve the feat.

MORE: WA Police investigating fatal car crash in Wundowie

MORE: Eagles weigh up appeal after Nic Naitanui tackle suspension

MORE: Police hunt sex offender last seen in Forrestfield