Miss­ing star helps Heat

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael. thomp­son@ news. com. au

NO one would blame the Townsville Heat for cel­e­brat­ing the fact Mackay Me­te­ors star Shaun Bruce will not play tonight’s show­down at Townsville Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium.

The rag­ing hot Queens­land Bas­ket­ball League MVP favourite will miss the Round 12 rum­ble to at­tend a wed­ding, a clear bonus for any op­po­si­tion QBL team.

Heat coach Rod­ney An­der­son knows his team has been dealt a for­tu­nate hand, but on the flip side he would have pre­ferred to see his play­ers deal with the best Mackay can of­fer.

“It’s a shame that Bruce isn’t here be­cause it would be re­ally good to see ex­actly where we are against the best with four rounds to go,” he said. “Don’t re­ally care ei­ther way, but it’s just go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent way of guard­ing those guys.

“I know Chris Cedar grows an ex­tra leg when he comes back home, and he loves mak­ing sure he’s got one over me all the time.

“Last year was a re­ally fiery en­counter here and even our game in Mackay was a re­ally tough game. They’re the most tal­ented team in the league prob­a­bly by a fair bit. With­out one of their guys they come back to the pack a lit­tle bit.”

The Heat will be with­out shoot­ing guard Pe­ter Craw­ford ( above) be­cause of per­sonal com­mit­ments, and ris­ing tal­ent Josh Spiers will start in his place as the Heat chase re­demp­tion for their 13- point loss to Mackay in May.

The lad­der lead­ing Me­te­ors will be a po­tent threat at both ends even with­out Bruce, with Perth Wild­cats re­cruit Lu­cas Walker and for­mer Townsville Crocs big man Cameron Tra­gardh part of a stacked Mackay ros­ter.

An­der­son said Jamell An­der­son could be in for his tough­est as­sign­ment of the sea­sons against Walker tonight. “Jamell will have the tar­get on him. Jamell’s the guy we brought in to play de­fence on th­ese type of guys,” he said.

“I think he rel­ishes th­ese chal­lenges. His in­ten­sity makes the rest of the guys be­hind him play with that lit­tle bit of ex­tra en­ergy on de­fence.”

Heat guard Josh Wilcher echoed his coach’s thoughts about Bruce’s ab­sence, say­ing he al­ways rel­ishes play­ing against NBL tal­ent.

“You got guys in the NBL who you feel like you can play against and show your­self against, and for me not be­ing in the NBL I feel like I’m good enough to play against them,’ he said.

“I think my form has picked up since the start of the year and I’ve worked hard to try to get it there as well. It helps when your team has your back as well.”

The Heat can also fur­ther so­lid­ify their place in­side the league’s top four with a win.

“Home court here is re­ally big for us,” An­der­son said.

The Flames will be aim­ing to re­sume their win­ning ways in the women’s QBL af­ter last week­end’s loss to the Bris­bane Spar­tans when they take on the third placed Me­te­o­rettes. The women tip off at 6pm, fol­lowed by the men at 8pm.

BIG LOSS: Mackay Me­te­ors guard Shaun Bruce will not play against the Heat. Pic­ture: JONO SEARLE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.