Rockhampton Rockets prepare to fire up tomorrow
THE McDonald's Rockhampton Rockets have not lost a home game since August 2013 and they are keen to keep their impressive hometown heroics intact tomorrow against the Northside Wizards.
According to Rockets' captain, Mitch Philp, that won't be an easy task for two reasons. The Wizards are a very strong side and traditionally the Rockets struggle on a Sunday. Their last loss at Hegvold Stadium almost two years ago was a Sunday match.
"The Wizards have secured former US import this year, CJ Massingale, as an Australian," Philp said.
"He is a very good player and now he's an Aussie they have freed up two positions for other American players."
Massingale, the former NBL player with the Adelaide 36ers, was naturalised just last month, perfect timing for the Wizards so they could secure the services of two new US imports, forward/ centre Darren Moore from Chicago and guard Evan Coulter from Washington.
"There's no doubt the Wizards will be the team to beat down south in the QBL this season," Philp said.
"They are definitely one of the top teams and it's a bit tough for us drawing them as our first home game. We will have to switch on."
Philp concedes that switching on for a Sunday game is something the Rockets have sometimes struggled to do.
"There is a bit of a different vibe on a Sunday compared with our usual night games," Philp said.
"We only play two Sunday games a year, thankfully, because we tend to start a bit flat on a Sunday. Hopefully that's not the case against the Wizards because we can't afford a slow start against them. We hope the home crowd will give us a lift and get us going."
It will be another sell-out at Hegvold Stadium for the Rocket's first home game of season 2015 and Philp and his team always benefit from the vocal and spirited support.
"It's important we start well," Philp said.
"We haven't lost at home since 2013, ironically that was a Sunday game. We are expecting a big crowd, as usual in Rocky we always get fantastic support and this really helps, especially on a Sunday."
The Rockets have pulled up well after the demanding triple-header road trip last weekend; they are injury free, fresh and with the return of Jackson McTier, who has been playing in Alaska, at full strength.
"It was hectic road trip last weekend," Philp said.
"A lot of the boys played some big minutes," Philp said.
"Thankfully we had Monday off and trained well Wednesday and Friday so we're fresh. We also welcome home Jackson for this game and it's great to have him back. Jackson adds more height for us and also increases our depth and strength. Chehales Tapscott arrived last week as well, so we're happy to be home, at full strength."