Rockets have it all to play for in final CQ Cup fixture
THE Rockhampton Rockets have set up a mouth-watering final fixture against Mackay after their fourth win in the ConocoPhillips CQ Cup at the weekend.
The Rockets beat the Bundaberg Bulls 95-72 at Autobarn Arena on Saturday night, with Hayden Richardson leading the scoring with 23 points.
He was ably supported by Matt Hancock with 16, Leon Christensen with 15 and Jared Blanchard with 14.
Coach Neal Tweedy said it was a good comeback from the Rockets, who were down eight points early in the first quarter.
“We chipped away at the back end of the first quarter and got it back to 25-23, down two at quarter time,” he said.
“We probably played our best basketball through that second quarter when we broke it open to 56-40 at half-time.
“We didn’t shoot the ball that well in the second half but did enough to win by 23 points.”
The Rockets now have an all-important showdown with Mackay this Saturday night.
They can lock up first place if they beat Mackay by more than four points, the margin by which Mackay beat them in Round 1.
That would mean they host the fourth rather than the third-placed team in the semi-final.
It would also give them a better shot at hosting the grand final, with the highest-ranked semi winner given that right.
Tweedy said the Rockets had it all to play for on Saturday night.
“It’s a big game for us this week,” he said.
“I think we’ve been getting better with every game. The first week we were a little bit underdone but I feel like we have shown improvement since, especially in our defence.
“We need to keep improving that if we want to go and beat Mackay on their home floor.
“Defence will be crucial, and that allows us to get going offensively. Our transition’s a lot better when we can get stops rather than taking the ball out of bounds all the time.”
Tweedy said Trevor Corrigan was vital to the Rockets’ defensive efforts.
He would be looking to Richardson, Christensen and Blanchard to maintain their scoring contributions, as well players such Hancock and Mylique Prior to provide some “scoring punch” off the bench.
“We’re a younger group than Mackay, they’ve got some veteran former QBL players up there,” he said.
“But our younger players are now starting to believe they belong on this stage and they’ve got an opportunity to show it against a very good Mackay team on Saturday.”
ConocoPhillips CQ Cup Round 5 results
Men: Rockhampton Rockets 95 d Bundaberg Bulls 72, Mackay Meteors 89 d Gladstone Port City Power 55.
Women: Bundaberg Bears 69 d Rockhampton Cyclones 67, Mackay Meteorettes 94 d Gladstone Port City Power 53