Crocs point guard to throw down against Wild­cats Will holds the aces

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

POKER-FACED Croc­o­diles point guard Will Blalock is ready to show his win­ning hand against Perth tonight.

Townsville have billed the show­down with their bit­ter ri­vals as the big­gest match in 10 years, not that there was a hint of ten­sion dur­ing their fi­nal train­ing session at The Swamp yes­ter­day.

‘‘ I re­ally don’t know how to spell pres­sure, so I’m not wor­ried,’’ Blalock said af­ter prac­tice.

The im­port Croc ap­pre­ci­ates that they are pre­par­ing for a game of high-stakes, with the win­ner tak­ing a stran­gle­hold of sec­ond-place on the lad­der with two weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son re­main­ing.

And yet, there is noth­ing more daunt­ing about step­ping on to the floor tonight t han t here was r un­ning through his own head as he stepped up for rou­tine shoot­ing drills this week.

‘‘ I put more pres­sure on my­self in prac­tice, when I’m work­ing on free throws and shoot­ing wide open j ays ( jump shots), rather than in the game where I just let it flow,’’ he said.

‘‘ That’s the way I’ve al­ways been. That way you know you are pre­pared, know that I’ve done it be­fore, so when boom, the lights come on, the pop­corn is pop­ping and the stands are full, I know I’ve gotta hit the shot.’’

When it comes to Perth, Blalock knows what it means to win even though the Cats are the only side he’s yet to savour a vic­tory against. A crash course on his ar­rival D o w n U n d e r l a s t y e a r , cou­pled with three losses in­clud­ing their only home­court de­feat this cam­paign, makes it a ri­valry match sec­ond only to the ‘‘ Rep­tile Rum­ble’’ with Cairns.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing his­tory, how­ever, is dif­fer­ent to fall­ing vic­tim to the past.

‘‘ It hurts more when you know you re­ally didn’t give the ef­fort that was needed to get the win,’’ Blalock said as he talked about the soli­tary loss in 13 ap­pear­ances at their Swamp fortress.

‘‘ I’ve watched tapes and seen the re­cent his­tory of the past cou­ple of years and know about all the back and forth be­tween the teams.

‘‘ They have beaten us easy this year, but we didn’t have Roe ( Rosell El­lis) or the chem­istry we’ve got now. This is a dif­fer­ent team, a dif­fer­ent game. They don’t have any men­tal edge on us.’’

Mak­ing that a state­ment of fact will be Blalock’s first or­der of busi­ness, tak­ing Perth on at their own game from the get-go.

‘‘ We have to play at the pace that they are go­ing to play and with the ag­gres­sion that Perth is go­ing to bring for 40 min­utes and sus­tain that,’’ he said.

It’ll be a per­sonal on­slaught by Blalock on Round 22 player of the week Damian Mart i n , who f l i r t e d wi t h a quadru­ple-dou­ble – scor­ing 11 points, pulling down 11 re­bounds as well as dish­ing up eight as­sists and pickp o c k e t i n g s e v e n s t e a l s against Gold Coast last week – when host i l i t i e s c o mmence.

‘‘ It starts with me and I’m ready for it,’’ Blalock said.

NO WOR­RIES: Will Blalock plays it cool be­fore the big game against the Wild­cats

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