Short term Rockets signing Chuck Long was a big hit with two slam dunks against Bundaberg Bulls.
Short term Rockets signing Chuck Long was a big hit with two slam dunks against Bundaberg Bulls. Chris Ison

Rockets hoping to rebound

THE Republik Nightclub Rockets are ready to blow out the candle and end their horrid recent record at Candle Stick Park tonight.

The Rockets travel north to Mackay for tonight's QBL grand final rematch, having lost their past three straight contests at the home of basketball in Mackay.

Rockets coach Neal Tweedy is predicting the vocal Candle Stick Park crowd will make their task even tougher after the Meteors won all nine fixtures at home last year, with the venue becoming a fortress for last year's QBL runners-up.

“We've struggled up there in the past. Home court advantage is such a big thing in basketball with how the crowd is so close to the action,” Tweedy said.

“Along with the crowd, players are used to shooting on their home court rings and that plays a part too.”

Tweedy said his team would need to silence the vocal home crowd early in the fixture with their defence if they are to turn around their recent poor form at the venue.

“You've got to take the crowd out the equation,” he said.

“They won nine out of nine at home last year so the crowd plays a big part of that.

“Silencing the crowd comes through defence, and then our offence flows on from the work we do in defence.”

Tweedy isn't putting too much weight on the early season fixture, with the Rockets' record in 2010 speaking for itself.

“It's a game that we've lost the last three times, and while it is important to win as many on the road as we can, it's not the end of the world if we don't,” Tweedy said.

“We showed that last year.

"We lost (in Mackay) last year, but obviously we went on to be the top two teams.”

Spirits are high ahead of the journey north, following the Rockets' 100-71 win over Bundaberg at Hegvold Stadium last weekend, with the side showing no signs of the less than ideal build-up.

“We were happy with how the group came together,” Tweedy said.

“We hadn't had too many sessions together, with Chuck (Long) only arriving on the Friday and Pero (Vasiljasvic) earlier in the week, but I was impressed with how we came together.

“It's a part of the recruitment strategy we have.

"The chemistry is such an important ingredient.

"That's something we looked for at the start of this year when were recruiting.

“We look for players that want to play for each other and do their individual roles.”

Mackay will be boosted by suggestions former Rocket Rhys Martin will suit up in the Meteors' colours tonight for the first time this season.

Tweedy said Mackay were an imposing force with Martin, former Rockets big man Michael Kingma, Wollongong Hawk Tim Coenraad and Cairns Taipans recruit Deba George in their line-up.

George led the way for Mackay in their round one 32-point win over Gladstone last weekend, top-scoring with 25 points.

The Rockets were clinical in their round one 29-point win over Bundaberg with Rockets recruit Travis Reed turning in an eye-catching performance.

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