Moller miss­ing for big Huskies games

Mercury (Hobart) - - BASKETBALL - ADAM SMITH

THE South­ern Huskies’ slim hopes of fea­tur­ing in the New Zealand NBL play­offs have taken a huge hit with cap­tain Craig Moller un­avail­able for this week­end’s crunch road trip.

The Huskies meet Can­ter­bury for the third con­sec­u­tive clash on Fri­day night — hav­ing lost the pre­vi­ous two in Ho­bart last Thurs­day and Launce­s­ton on Satur­day night — be­fore back­ing up against South­land 24 hours later.

And the task of re­vers­ing the re­sults against the Rams has been made more dif­fi­cult with Moller to miss be­cause of com­mit­ments with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive NBL team.

Moller is part of an 11player NBL select team to tour China later this month, with the group hav­ing a train­ing camp this Fri­day and Satur­day in Syd­ney be­fore the three-match se­ries be­gins on June 19.

While dis­ap­pointed he will be with­out one of his strike weapons for the big­gest pair of games in the club’s short his­tory, Huskies coach An­thony Ste­wart said it opens up an op­por­tu­nity for oth­ers to step up and fill the void.

“I have al­ways been a coach and when I re­cruit play­ers if they get op­por­tu­ni­ties to play at a higher level then you have to sup­port them,” Ste­wart said.

“It now gives the op­por­tu­nity for other guys to step up and re­ally show they should be play­ing more min­utes.

“Craig is hard to cover but we haven’t shot the ball well, we had a high level of turnovers in the sec­ond game [against Can­ter­bury], we gave up 25 foul shots to nine, and you lose on the buzzer by two points.

“It may ac­tu­ally help a few oth­ers get the ball a bit more and get their groove on.

“In par­tic­u­lar Marcel [Jones] and Tre [Ni­chols] and Jalen [Billups], they will be­come the fo­cal points and then Lachie [Cum­mins], Bryan [Michaels] and even Ma­son Bragg will get more re­spon­si­bil­ity of­fen­sively.

“We would rather be go­ing into bat­tle with Craig, but at the same time it re­ally gives oth­ers a green light to be able to make more plays.”

Af­ter the back-to-back losses to the Rams the Huskies sit in fifth spot on the NZNBL lad­der, one win be­hind the Sharks in what now looks a two-way bat­tle for fourth spot.

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