Rockets' playoff hopes dashed
BASKETBALL: A long-standing sporting tradition has been broken with the Rockhampton Rockets missing the QBL playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
The team's hopes of making the finals disintegrated on their home court on Saturday night as they went down to reigning champions, the Mackay Meteors, by 13 points.
Coach Neal Tweedy was left to lament what could have been after the Rockets let a nine-point lead early in the third quarter slip away.
"When you're playing these top-level teams it comes down to a few plays and making the right decisions and executing at the right time and I think Mackay did those things better than us," he said.
"It's been the same story three games in a row. We were up nine points five minutes into the third quarter after being level at half-time and we just didn't execute when we got such a big margin.
"It was similar to what happened against Townsville two weeks ago. If you don't execute and you don't put teams to the sword you give them a sniff at victory and that's what happened again on Saturday night."
Tweedy said it was very disappointing that the Rockets' playoff tradition had been broken. It is the first time since 2002 they will not be playing at the business end of the season.
"We've always held ourselves to such high standards. Us missing the playoffs is probably very different to other teams missing the playoffs," he said.
"We expect to and pride ourselves on making the playoffs each year which is probably the most disappointing thing for the program."
Tweedy said Saturday night's game was ultimately decided by the amount of possession Mackay were able to gain through turnovers and rebounds.
"When we're over double figures (14) in turnovers compared to their single figures (seven) and they're winning the rebounds it just gives them so much more possession.
"They out-rebounded us by 12; that's a huge margin especially when they've got 16 offensive rebounds to our 11.
"They took 81 shots for the match and we took 64. In the end we just gave them too many opportunities to score."
Tweedy said while the Rockets' absence from the playoffs was a bitter pill to swallow, there were positives to come out of the 2016 season.
That included the blooding of a number of younger players, including teenage sensations Jackson McTier and Trevor Corrigan, which augured well for the future and the outstanding contribution on and off the court from American import Jordan Gregory.
Tweedy said the Rockets had the chance to end their season on the right note when they took on Ipswich in the final round game in front of a sellout crowd at Hegvold Stadium on Friday night.
"The players are keen to come out and finish off the season on the right note," he said.
"It will potentially be Peni Nasalo's last game as a Rockets player and there's some other things to play for as well."