Rockhampton Rockets fail to fire against Suncoast Clippers

THE ROCKETS looked anything but convincing, doing just enough in the last quarter to sneak home against the Suncoast Clippers 116-109 at Hegvold Stadium on Saturday night.

The Rockets were off their game, finding it hard to find their flow in attack and leaking points against a determined Clippers outfit. The visitors could hardly believe their luck to find their hosts so flat at home and several times throughout the see-sawing encounter found themselves ahead.

The shots were again not dropping for the Rockets. In particular Dominic Cheek struggled from the free throw line. At half time the Rockets were just ahead 60-58. But they returned to their home floor after the break and let the Clippers livewire Josh Walters dominate. The short, fast Walters was making plenty of running up centre court and when he couldn't find his big offence support he shot himself, opening the scoring with a lovely three pointer. The Rockets couldn't answer and with 6.32 on the clock were down 71-62.

Eren Moses for the Clippers was another to play well. Suncoast could emerge as one of the surprise packets of the Men's Queensland Basketball League (QBL), after they beat the Brisbane Capitals, who sit second on the QBL ladder, in round 7 by four points. So their confidence was high as they sensed another upset. Walters dropped another three pointer and the Rockets were just not on it defensively.

Peni Nasalo entered the action and immediately had an impact, hitting the basket, but the Rockets finished the third quarter five points down, the Clippers leading 85-80. It was going to be a tight, tense final quarter.

And so it proved. The Rockets finally fired in attack, but not after letting the Clippers score first to extend their lead, Cheek's free-throw form again disappointing.

With seven minutes to go the Rockets put on the after-burners, Chehales Tapscott starting to score freely in the key. The Rockets caught the Clippers and then were ahead by two with 6.11 showing on the clock. Rockets' co-captain Mitch Philp and Cheek both nailed three pointers in quick succession and the crowd nearly lifted the Hegvold roof. The tide had turned and defensively the Rockets were now shutting the Clippers down.

Offensively, the combination of Philp, Cheek and Tapscott were starting to score in the key. A time-out at 1.30 saw the Rockets ahead 110-98. Despite the Clippers coming home stronger in the final passage, scoring 11 points to the Rockets six, it wasn't enough, and the Rockets snuck home by seven, 116-109.

"Took a while to flow offensively, glad it happened in the fourth," Philp said.

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