Five rounds may have passed in the inaugural NBL1 West season, but the Sinclair McDonald’s Rockingham Flames women’s team have taken to the court just three times since the competition’s April 14 tip-off thanks to WA’s recent Covid-19 lockdown and a scheduled bye week.

While the two-week suspension of play thanks to lockdown measures in Perth and the Peel region affected the entire league, the Flames women found themselves with a third week off in four courtesy of the league scheduling sending the men’s team to Geraldton to play the Buccs.

Coach Tom Knowles said although the past few weeks had undoubtedly been disruptive, he believed the time off, forced or otherwise, had aided his team more than it had thrown their early season into chaos.

“It’s helped us more than anything,” he said.

“We had a number of players arrive late in pre-season, plus some others with injury niggles, so we went into the start of the season a bit underdone. We had a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it in and we probably weren’t ready.

“You can look at it both ways, that it has helped give us more time to get things right in training but also taken away opportunities to put those things into practice in a game, but against Willetton we were a lot better and closer to being ready (for the season) than we were four weeks ago.”

Knowles said it wasn’t hard to refocus his players ahead of the return to action after the lockdown break, and was incredibly happy with the performance of his team as they collected their first win of the season, over Willetton 85-72, and how they backed up the following day in their 80-39 win over the Southwest Slammers.

“Every player knows what the expectations are on them, on the team and what their role within that is, so when we came back from lockdown it was very much a case of them getting their heads down and bums up to execute the plan on the court,” he said.

“There have been no issues with the air going out or having to pick them back up after a break because we keep looking forward to the next game. We’re always ready with our scouts, there are no shortcuts, everyone is doing their part in putting the game plan into action. As a coach that’s great because it allows us to move on and tick more boxes that need to be ticked.

“The great thing with how we’re playing our basketball is even when play breaks down the players keep working, keep putting in the effort. That was noticeable from our first game (a loss to Cockburn) to the games against Willetton and the Slammers; we got better in our ability to find open players. We went from seven assists again the Cougars to 22 against Willetton and the Slammers.

“For me that’s a significant stat so I’m very pleased to see the progression from game to game. It means we have some tough, solid plans in place and our preparation has allowed us to follow through with those plans.”

Those plans will again be put to the test this weekend, with the Flames set to face their second doubleheader of the season in Round 6, with a Friday night trip to Bendat Basketball Centre to take on the Perry Lakes Hawks ahead of hosting the Perth Redbacks at the Hot House on Saturday night.

Tip-off on Saturday night is 6pm for the women and 8pm for the men. You can pre-purchase your tickets here.