Missing star helps Heat
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.