Romeo leads Cyclones
THE Hog's Breath Cafe Cyclones would have had an excuse if they had put on a poor display against the Bundaberg Bears but it was not the case as the home team eased home to an eight point victory.
While the Cyclones won 81-73 there was a few nervous moments as the result was always in doubt with the home team never able to put the Bears away.
The coaching staff of Peter Trenerry and Stuart Reoch would have been a little concerned with the build-up for the team with Nicole Romeo and Bianca Abbott arriving in Rockhampton during the past few days.
For Abbott, the season-opener was even tougher as she not only flew in on Friday but when she attended her first session with the Cyclones, she twisted an ankle and was forced to watch the rest of the team's work out from the sideline.
All that was forgotten when the Cyclones and the Bears stepped on to the magnificent new Hegvold Stadium surface on Saturday evening.
With any season-opener not everything goes to plan but for the home team there was more to admire than to be concerned about.
Abbott may have only been involved in the team build-up as an observer but she still did enough to prove she will be a major force in the 2011 season scoring eight from eight with free throws, third highest point-scorer for the Cyclones and, even more importantly, topping the chart for the home team in rebounds.
While Abbott was solid Romeo was a revelation.
Scoring three-pointers can lift a team and conversely frustrate an opposition and Romeo, who plays in the WNBL with Canberra, did that by scoring eight from her 13 attempts.
While Romeo is recognised as a good player Reoch said most coaches in the league would have chosen Bears guard Kristen Veal ahead of her due to her international and WNBL experience with Logan.
On the night, however, they might have had a change of heart as Romeo was a game high scorer with 34 points to her name.
The Bears also had their other stars on court with Stacey Howard and Kisha Lee arriving after playing College basketball in the States.
Another Cyclone to shine was the athletic Tegan Cunningham who took a while to settle when she joined the team last year but blossomed during the season. She returned from playing with Adelaide in very impressive form.
However, the exciting feature for Reoch was the way the local players lifted.
“We used to get a lot of players who went through the junior system and then dropped out at 18,” he said.
Mikaela King and Amee Brown both had a good chunk of court time and performed strongly while Katrina Clifford was introduced into the action at a critical stage and proved, once more, she can mix it in the best company.
Next week the Cyclones and the Rockets face a tough test when they play at Mackay.