HEAT HELLBENT ON RE­DEMP­TION

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

THE pain of last sea­son’s pre­ma­ture fi­nals exit still burns through Townsville Heat coach Rod­ney An­der­son.

Rid­ing into last year’s quar­ter- fi­nals as mi­nor pre­miers, the Heat were ex­pected to sweep aside the Cairns Mar­lins in the first stage of their run to cham­pi­onship glory.

But their fi­nals cam­paign lasted just 40 min­utes as Cairns claimed an up­set in front of the Heat’s fans, and An­der­son says the pain re­mains as fresh as it did 12 months ago.

“I still re­mem­ber the feel­ing af­ter the game ... I haven’t for­got­ten about that night what­so­ever,” he said.

“I’m sure a cou­ple of guys who played for us last year haven’t for­got­ten that ei­ther, guys like Peter Craw­ford. “It’s def­i­nitely driven me all year.” Tonight the Heat fi­nally get their chance to make amends when they host the South West Metro Pi­rates in their QBL quar­ter- fi­nal at Townsville Basketball Sta­dium.

The Heat will have the same ros­ter as the one that se­cured just one win from last week­end’s gru­elling three­game road trip, al­though An­der­son be­lieves his team is geared up for fi­nals.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be re­ally tough to go on the road and get three games,” he said.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing how we lost our sec­ond game, we didn’t re­ally turn up men­tally but we never gave up the whole way through.

“We then could of just laid down and taken the loss on the Sun­day but we fought that game as well, so we still think we’re do­ing the right thing and I still think we’re play­ing the right way.

“A cou­ple of small ad­just­ments and we should be OK.”

The Heat scored a 98- 79 home win against the Pi­rates in Round 2, but An­der­son takes no com­fort from it.

The Pi­rates have since be­come one of the league’s form sides, win­ning six of their past seven games, and im­ports Tan­ner McGrew – last year’s MVP – and Jeremy Ken­dle are dif­fer­ent beasts to what they were early in the sea­son.

“They might run the same style of of­fence, but they were just to­tally dif­fer­ent guys,” An­der­son said.

“Tan­ner McGrew had only just come off the plane and Jeremy Ken­dle didn’t play for them, and those two guys have been MVP of the league in the last cou­ple of years.

“And they have been qui­etly ris­ing up the lad­der, so they’re go­ing to be re­ally tough to beat.

“But last week­end they fi­nally played a team ( Bris­bane Spar­tans) that was in the top part of the draw and they took a loss, so they’ve had an easy ride and hope­fully they’re not as bat­tletested as we are.”

Tonight’s tip- off is 7.30pm.

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

STRENGTH: Townsville Heat play­ers Peter Craw­ford and Justin Baker have their game faces on ahead of tonight’s quar­ter­fi­nal clash with the South West Metro Pi­rates.

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