Heat ‘ meant to win this game’

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

TOWNSVILLE Heat star Peter Craw­ford knows a cham­pi­onship team when he sees one, and he be­lieves the Heat have the pieces to win a Queens­land Bas­ket­ball League ti­tle.

Craw­ford’s team takes on Gladstone Port City Power tonight at Townsville Bas­ket­ball Sta­dium where an­other win could put the Heat into top spot should cur­rent lead­ers Mackay drop their game against Brisbane Cap­i­tals.

The Heat will again bring the same ros­ter that handed Mackay a 96- 81 loss on their home court, al­though Gladstone have hit form through con­sec­u­tive wins against Rock­hamp­ton and Lo­gan.

Tonight’s game is also the first of a dou­ble- header for Gladstone, who play Cairns Marlins to­mor­row, mean­ing they will likely throw their big­gest ef­fort at the Heat.

“I think we’re a bet­ter team, I think we’re meant to win this game,” Craw­ford said.

“But it doesn’t mean will be able to show up and win. We’ll have to play well, ex­e­cute and push.

“There isn’t long left in the sea­son and we have a tough triple header com­ing up in the last round.

“Most teams are sort of wind­ing down, we need to be wind­ing up to­wards the play­offs and peak­ing.

“This is a good test for us to make sure we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

Gladstone im­port and league top­scorer Ray Willis will be the Heat’s big­gest threat, hav­ing av­er­aged al­most 28 points a game.

He made 36- point hauls in Gladstone’s past two wins over Rock­hamp­ton and Toowoomba, and fel­low Amer­i­can Wil­lie Shack­le­ford is the QBL’s second best re­bounder.

“Ray Willis has been killing it,” Craw­ford said.

“He’ll be a tough task for us to guard, and they’ll be com­ing in try­ing to get the first game be­fore head­ing up to Cairns.

“Shack­le­ford down low has been the lead­ing re­bounder in this league for a long time.

“I think we match up quite well against them, but we need to take care of our own busi­ness.”

The fourth placed Flames can also keep tak­ing strides in the women’s QBL against Gladstone, who sit fifth. The sides last met in May when Gladstone won 96- 84 in over­time, with Power point guard Ta­batha Richard­son Smith light­ing up the floor with 42 points and 13 re­bounds.

“They have a point guard who’s quite handy and di­rects them around the court, and they have a cou­ple of big girls in­side too, so they have a good spread of scor­ers,” Flames point guard Rachael McCully said.

“Tabitha’s ob­vi­ously their main threat, but we can’t just fo­cus on Tabitha.

“If she gets 10- 20 points we have to make sure we shut ev­ery­one else down.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge and we def­i­nitely owe them one, and they’re right up our tail on the lad­der.”

The Flames tip- off at 6.30pm fol­lowed by the men at 8.30pm.

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