Wolves close to crowning glory

Ben Ettridge, Wolves coach.
Ben Ettridge, Wolves coach.

He coached Australia�s wheelchair basketball team to an undefeated world championship in 2010.

In 2007, he coached the Perth Wheelcats to an unbeaten national season before taking them to the world club championships where they won every game.

On Saturday, he�s hoping to guide the Wolves past South West Slammers to their third State Basketball League title, coming off a season where they topped the table with just three losses from 26 appearances.

While his 2011 championship with the Wolves was somewhat unexpected, this year they are the heavy favourites to win the grand final in Mt Claremont.

He considered the key for a dominant team to avoid slipping in the biggest clash of the season was �taking all the emphasis off winning the game�.

�I rarely talk about winning anything unless it�s a game of two-up or something like that,� he quipped.

�Basketball is a game of your process, we focus very hard on the little things and the clich�s of getting the one percenters right.�

He said the recent retirement announcement of much-loved Wanneroo Basketball Association managers Van and Mary Kailis was motivation for the side to produce their best basketball in tribute. �When you�re playing for something bigger than yourself then it takes all that pressure off,� he said.

After winning the last seven games of the regular season, the play-offs have not proved as straightforward for the Wolves as some expected.

Perry Lakes pushed Joondalup to a decider in the best-of-three quarter finals series despite being the play-offs� lowest-ranked team in eighth place.

The Wolves reasserted their position as championship favourites in the semi-finals when they disposed of Rockingham in two games. �It�s been tough, which is what you want,� Ettridge said.

�The back half of the season we ran away with it with an average winning margin of about 30 points a game� there wasn�t really those hard grinds.

�To get to the play-offs and have to grind out three against Perry Lakes was good and then Rockingham was tough (too).�

Ettridge expected star Slammers import Tre Nichols to �explode� and score heavily in the grand final, but said he would remind the players �not to get caught up in that hype�.

�If we weather his storm and shut down those other perimeter players, it puts the ascendancy back in our favour and gives our fans a chance to get loud and make a bit of noise,� he said.

The club hoped the men�s and women�s sides would contest a championship this weekend, but the women were defeated by Willetton, 68-62, in game two of the semi-finals last weekend.