Power show signs, but Meteors rise in the end
BASKETBALL: The McDonald's Gladstone Port City Power men's team got to within a point in the third quarter, but Mackay Meteors' galaxy of stars shone down the stretch when it counted.
Mackay's Shaun Bruce (21 points) and Lucas Walker, with 19, engineered a professional 87-66 in an entertaining QBL season opener at Kev Broome Stadium.
The pair were the difference when it mattered most.
Despite the 21-point loss, there were more positives than negatives, especially given that the Power were basically dwarfed against the likes of Walker, playing coach Cameron Tragardh (12 points), Tidjane Diop and Bradley Rasmussen.
When the team's meet again in Mackay later in the season, Gladstone Port City Power will have big imports Nathaniel Musters and Patrick Ciganovic.
"I was really proud of the guys with the effort they put in especially in that first five minutes of the third quarter where we really pinned that back and got into them," Smith said.
Inspired by Ray Willis (game-high 27 points), who scored the opening basket of the game with a huge dunk, and Remy Lawyer, the hosts outscored the Meteors 17-16 in the third term.
A triple from Josh Walters closed it to 54-52 and fellow debutante Willie Shackleford (13 points) made it 59-58 with a put-back from an offensive rebound
But that was as close as the Power got because Bruce showed his NBL wares to stretch the lead out to eight points at three-quarter-time.
"I think eventually their size wore us down and they got tired and that last five minutes, we stopped moving in offence and fatigue got in," Smith said.
"We've got to get better when we get fatigued to keep running and keep cutting hard.
"I thought we did a great job on Lucas Walker and Cameron Tragardh limiting their easy plays and there were a lot of positives."
Lawyer (12 points) arguably played his best match and that was against the best guard in the QBL - Bruce.
Although the latter finished with 21 points, Lawyer was not disgraced and he, along with local product Dylan Owen made the gun play-maker work for his points.
"Remy came out and he was sensational, really aggressive on offence and defence and his defence in that first half was outstanding on Shaun Bruce and he really pushed him," Smith said.
Walters' radar was off and Smith said it was a rare off night and expects him to bounce back.
"His comment was that I haven't been this wide open before and I don't think we'll ever see him shoot that badly again," Smith said.
"He's a knock-down shooter and had a bad night, but the good thing is he kept shooting which we expect from a good shooter.
"I think we'll see a lot more from him and he's going to explode."
The unobtrusive Mitchell Gamblin quelled the influence of Ray Willis and scored 13 points himself and Tragardh said it was a tough match.
"Full credit to Gladstone... they got a couple of horses coming in as well and they'll go from strength-to-strength," he said.
Tragardh admitted he was concerned when the Power got to within a point.
"I didn't feel great to be honest and they were coming home with a wet sail and I just said we need to stick with our processes and what we know we do well," Tragardh said.
The Power face another tough assignment against Rockhampton Rockets next Saturday in Rocky from 7.30pm.