Time to bite the bullet
Rillie says clash with Brisbane so crucial
CROCODILES captain John Rillie believes Townsville can find out exactly where they sit on the National Basketball League landscape when they tackle the high-flying Bullets in Brisbane tonight.
Coming off a 111-95 trouncing of New Zealand on Thursday that extended their winning streak to six matches, the Crocs are oozing confidence.
Even without enforcer Larry Abney, who is still in the US, Townsville have been unstoppable, with Brad Newley, Rillie and Daniel Egan all stepping up to fill the void and helping continue the Crocodiles’push for a place in the NBL’s top four.
But with Brisbane boasting a 15-5 win-loss record to be in clear second position on the ladder, the Crocs’form will be put to the ultimate test tonight.
However, far from being intimidated, Rillie said it was an examination Townsville were ready to take.
‘‘The beauty of playing the Bullets is they are definitely one of the top two teams in the competition and in our six-game winning streak we haven’t played an upperechelon team, so to speak, so let’s see where we are at since we do have a bit of momentum right now,’’ he said.
‘‘I think everyone is feeling very confident and very comfortable about the whole team chemistry but two of our next three games are against the Bullets and the (first-placed Melbourne) Tigers.
‘‘I see that as great way of seeing exactly where we are in the whole mix of things.’’
While a loss against the Bullets, who are riding their own five-game winning streak, will not make or break the Crocodiles’season, Rillie conceded that a win had the potential to send a very strong message to the NBL’s other 11 teams.
‘‘For sure, especially on the road,’’ said Rillie, who is coming off the Crocs’first tripledouble performance in four years.
‘‘If anything right now, we’ve proven we are a tough team at home but the jury is still out with us performing on the road.’’
Townsville have not won in Brisbane in their past five attempts and in their last meeting in the State capital in round four the Bullets ran away with the contest 123-104.
On that night the home team utilised their physical full court defence to perfection, harassing the Crocs’ ball handlers Jelani Gardner and Kelvin Robertson up the floor and forcing a massive 26 turnovers.
While Rillie was confident the Crocodiles could expect a similar defensive onslaught from the Bullets tonight, he was also positive Townsville were better prepared this time around.
Meanwhile, despite some concerns over Newley’s fitness after he rolled his ankle in New Zealand, he trained with the team in Brisbane yesterday and coach Trevor Gleeson said he was a certainty for tonight.
Tip-off is 7.40pm.
FACING THE FACTS . . . John Rillie says tonight’s match-up with Brisbane will give
the in-form Crocs a true perspective of their standing on the NBL talent charts