Sat, Mar 12, 12:54am by Kevin Pitstock
Current Ladder Positions:
Townsville – 3rd (14-10), New Zealand – 1st (19-5)
Townsville’s Last Five Games:
Round 21 – lost to Wollongong (87-77)
Round 21 – lost to New Zealand (66-65)
Round 20 – defeated Sydney (96-68)
Round 19 – defeated Wollongong (75-56)
Round 18 – defeated Cairns (81-74)
New Zealand’s Last Five Games:
Round 21 – defeated Townsville (66-65)
Round 20 – lost to Wollongong (104-81)
Round 20 – lost to Gold Coast (94-91)
Round 19 – defeated Gold Coast (123-115)
Round 19 – defeated Perth (82-79)
Head-To-Head Encounters This Season:
Round 12 – Townsville defeated New Zealand (96-79)
Round 21 – New Zealand defeated Townsville (66-65)
Luke Schenscher joined Townsville before the start of this season and his recruitment has greatly benefitted both parties. The 28-year-old has been an offensive machine for the Crocs this season, averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. Schenscher is at his best when he’s in the low post and if he can get himself into that position more often than not this Saturday, the Breakers’ defence are in for a long night.
Speaking of offensive machines, how about the season Kirk Penney has played? The 30-year-old has established himself as the best player in the competition in 2010/11, averaging a league-high 20.7 points per game. Penney’s form from beyond the arc is Townsville’s biggest concern, as he hits a three-point shot 44.3 per cent of the time he attempts one. The Crocs must play tight defence on the guard, otherwise he could have a night out.
Townsville’s Possible Starting Five:
PG – Will Blalock
SG – Michael Cedar
SF – Peter Crawford
PF – Russell Hinder
C – Luke Schenscher
New Zealand’s Possible Starting Five:
PG – Paul Hennare
SG – Kirk Penney
SF – Tom Abercrombie
PF – Mike Vukona
C – Gary Wilkinson
No doubt this match will be the game of the round, with the first and third ranked teams in the league going head-to-head.
Townsville endured a horrible round last weekend, losing to the Breakers in New Zealand then the Hawks in Wollongong. The two losses severely hurt the momentum the Crocs had been gathering over the past few weeks, but perhaps they were the losses they needed to have in order to avoid any complacency.
New Zealand, on the other hand, continues to go from strength to strength. It has only lost five games for the season to date and it doesn’t look like it’ll be losing too many more games any time soon.
The Breakers have an incredible offensive line-up. As well as Penney starting at shooting guard, they can also turn to Thomas Abercrombie, Kevin Braswell, Mike Vukona and import Gary Wilkinson to hit the scoreboard. And when you’ve got a classy player like CJ Bruton coming off the bench and dropping a handy 12 points per game, you know you’re in good form.
However the Crocs will be well aware of New Zealand’s defensive weaknesses. In general, the team places a heavy emphasis on their offensive games. But when the ball is in the hands of the opposition, their mindset suddenly changes. Whether it’s because they panic or just become lazy, that attitude needs to change as the playoffs approach.
Townsville would’ve learned a lot from its close loss to the Breakers last weekend and will be keen to make amends this time round. With New Zealand’s defence a little vulnerable, the Crocodiles are a solid chance to bounce back in front of their home crowd.
Townsville by under 10.5 ($2.75 – Centrebet)
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