Break­ing the shack­les

Crocs in press- ure test against league lead­ers

Townsville Bulletin - - Bizfi Nd - antony. ste­wart@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

WOL­LON­GONG did it and it worked bril­liantly. Tonight there’s no doubt the New Zealand Break­ers will try and repli­cate that suc­cess.

But if the vis­i­tors think Townsville will back down from the chal­lenge, they have an­other thing com­ing.

The Croc­o­diles yes­ter­day barked a ‘‘ bring it on at your own peril’’ men­tal­ity for the crunch NBL clash at The Swamp as they brace for New Zealand to un­leash a dev­il­ish full-court press on their of­fence right from the out­set.

It proved the path to vic­tory for Wol­lon­gong just seven days ago, as their ext e n d e d p r e s s u r e c l e a r l y rat­tled the Crocs.

The re­sult was poor turnovers, in­de­ci­sion, rushed off ence and, ult i mately, a 10-point de­feat.

‘‘ We’ve got to learn our les­son from that . . . we know t hey’re go­ing t o press,’ ’ coach Trevor Glee­son said yes­ter­day.

And the fifth-sea­son Crocs men­tor has left noth­ing to chance on the prac­tice court this week in prepa­ra­tion for ex­actly that.

Bet­ter spac­ing, pro­tec­tion and or­gan­i­sa­tion for ball han­dlers Will Blalock and Nathan Cross­well have all been key fo­cuses.

P r i m a r y p o i n t g u a r d B l a l o c k w a s c o n f i d e n t Townsville would get it right tonight. When they did, he warned, the Break­ers would be the ones feel­ing the pain of the tac­tic.

‘‘ We want them to press and we want them to get af­ter it. Then at the same time we’ll counter it by be­ing more ag­gres­sive by at­tack­ing the bas­ket and hit­ting w i d e - o p e n t h r e e s , ’ ’ t h e 27-year-old Amer­i­can said.

‘‘ We did a mi­nor tweak on our press breaker and I think it works bet­ter now.

‘‘ If we keep at­tack­ing, that pres­sure will loosen up.’’

While the Break­ers ( 19-5) can­not l ose t heir mi­nor pre­mier­ship crown even if they lose all of their fi­nal f o u r g a me s , T o wn s v i l l e ( 14-10) run the risk of drop­ping back into the pack if they drop a third con­sec­u­tive match.

It was a prospect nei­ther Glee­son or Blalock wanted to con­sider when asked how detri­men­tal a loss would be to the Crocs.

But the se­ri­ous­ness of the con­test is still clear. Townsville un­usu­ally went with­out a day off this week.

‘‘ It’s not like we don’t de­serve a day off, but as a team, where we are right now, think­ing about the play-offs, we’ve got to get bet­ter – we can’t af­ford to take a day off,’’ Blalock said.

Bl a l o c k s c o f f e d a t a ny sug­ges­tion the Crocs risked run­ning out of legs late in the con­test.

‘‘ We feel that we’re the best team in the competition, we’ve just got to go out and prove it,’’ he said.

Tip-off is 7.30pm.

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