Stats only half the tale of wily vet­eran

Townsville Bulletin - - Sports - by Andrew Aloia andrew. aloia@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

FOR­GET the points and re­bound count, Rosell El­lis is the Townsville Croc­o­diles’ piece of in­de­struc­tible ar­mour.

The match sta­tis­tics give an un­der­whelm­ing snapshot of the 35-year-old Amer­i­can’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Croc­o­diles’ eight-point win over New Zealand, where he con­trib­uted eight points, four re­bounds, three as­sists and a steal. Ev­ery sin­gle one of them, how­ever, was game defin­ing.

Be it a crit­i­cally-timed fi­nal-quar­ter of­fen­sive board, an awk­ward-look­ing hook shot or brutish steal, El­lis bull­dozed the Crocs to vic­tory at The Swamp.

Townsville guard Nathan Cross­well might be an on-court gen­eral with NBL cham­pi­onship-win­ning know-how, but he heaped praise on the power for­ward’s ex­pe­ri­ence in big game sit­u­a­tions.

‘‘ Rosell is a wily vet­eran and he knows what to do,’’ Cross­well said.

‘‘ He’s been huge for us. Since he’s ar­rived we have lost three games . . . he is a win­ner.’’

So much so that, with the game still in the bal­ance and the Crocs lead­ing 80-76 head­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter, coach Trevor Glee­son kept faith with El­lis ahead of cap­tain Rus­sell Hin­der.

El­lis didn’t dis­ap­point, open­ing the pe­riod with a mid-range bas­ket.

And when the free-flow­ing trade of bas­kets whit­tled down to a phys­i­cal con­test that Break­ers big­man Gary Wilkin­son tried to man­han­dle off the the hosts, El­lis the en­forcer took over.

There might have been a lot of chest bump­ing af­ter Wilkin­son drove his shoul­der into El­lis’s back, but it was a show of force by the home­town favourite that got the 4086-strong crowd be­hind the Croc­o­diles. For a split-sec­ond, coach Glee­son ad­mit­ted he con­tem­plated de­fus­ing the sit­u­a­tion by tak­ing El­lis out.

‘‘ His de­fence is sen­sa­tional, he can guard any­where from a one to a five, he was switch­ing out on guards and get­ting some steals and that is why I left him in there,’’ Glee­son said.

Glee­son didn’t care how El­lis went about his busi­ness, he is just glad he has one of the great­est closers in the league at his dis­posal, even if his sea­son av­er­ages are well be­low his ca­reer best fig­ures in Aus­tralia.

El­lis this sea­son is av­er­ag­ing a touch un­der seven points and five re­bounds, nearly half of his out­put dur­ing his first stint with the Crocs. At the peak of his pow­ers at Perth he av­er­aged 18.3 points and 11.4 boards.

‘‘ There are so many things that Rosell does that doesn’t turn up on the score­sheet,’’ Glee­son said.

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