Key trio re­turn as Heat start cru­cial trip

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON

THE Townsville Heat have all hands on deck for what coach Rod­ney An­der­son be­lieves could be the road dou­ble that ce­ments their home fi­nal as­pi­ra­tions.

Peter Crawford, Josh Wilcher and Jamell An­der­son have made full re­cov­er­ies from in­jury ahead of this week­end’s dou­ble against the Bris­bane Cap­i­tals and Bris­bane Spar­tans, start­ing with to­mor­row’s game against the Cap­i­tals.

An­der­son says all fo­cus is be­ing placed on to­mor­row’s first clash, and will adopt a “come what may” ap­proach for the Spar­tans.

The Cap­i­tals have dropped just one game this sea­son and sit third on the men’s Queens­land Bas­ket­ball League ta­ble, one ahead of the Heat who can leapfrog their big city op­po­nents with a strong win.

The road trip also ends a run of five home games for the Heat, who won four of those cru­cial en­coun­ters in­clud­ing last week­end’s 86- 72 maul­ing of the Cairns Mar­lins.

“On a road trip like this we re­ally want to try and get that first game and then give it a red- hot crack in the se­cond,” An­der­son said.

“After a re­ally good win at home last week it’s go­ing to be cru­cial to try and con­sol­i­date on the road here.

“Our de­fence has im­proved out of sight since the start of the year and last week was a great de­fen­sive ef­fort.

“Hold­ing Cairns to a score way below their av­er­age is a re­ally good sign for us, but now we have to take it on the road and do the same thing against a Bris­bane team that likes to get a lot of pos­ses­sion up, shoot a lot of threes and they’re av­er­ag­ing al­most 100 points.

“So our de­fence is go­ing to be cru­cial in that first game.”

With a ros­ter fea­tur­ing NBL vet­eran Dusty Ry­chart and in­form im­ports Aaron An­der­son and Prince­ton On­was, the Cap­i­tals have been in the habit of win­ning games through full­blown of­fence early in the piece.

Dic­tat­ing their own terms is what An­der­son be­lieves will give the Heat a shot.

“Bris­bane play this re­ally weird style where ev­ery­one’s got the green light,” he said.

“They try and get a shot up in the first eight sec­onds of of­fence, and they just run and gun. It’s not just one guy; they’ve got Dusty Ry­chart who is just so ef­fi­cient and they have guys around him who just score so well.

“Both their im­ports are re­ally high scor­ers, so we just have to go back to our de­fence, make them grind it out and we can’t get caught up in their upand- down pace. Con­trol­ling the tempo of the game will be a big fac­tor in this one.”

The Heat’s abil­ity to al­low im­port Justin Baker to dom­i­nate in­side the cir­cle will also play a key role in lim­it­ing the Cap­i­tals’ abil­ity to dic­tate terms.

“He’s eas­ily our most con­sis­tent threat in­side, and not only is it good for him it’s good for out­side guys as well.

“If we can get Baker go­ing in­side and make a re­ally big tar­get, it’s more room for Peter Crawford to shoot, more room for Josh Wilcher to drive and Jamell can go in­side out­side.”

BRING IT ON: Townsville Heat point guard Josh Wilcher.

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