Women putting on a Power surge as play-offs near
BASKETBALL: Confidence is sky high for the McDonalds Gladstone Port City Power women's team who have returned fresh from a perfect double-header road trip against Townsville and Cairns.
The Power are perched in fourth place on the QBL ladder and face a 10th-ranked USC Rip team which will be playing for pride in its remaining two matches against USC Rip and Cairns at Kev Broome Stadium.
And Power coach Ray Cooper is mindful of an opponent which pushed undefeated Brisbane Spartans to 85-80 last weekend.
That game went into overtime after both teams could not be separated at the end of regulation time.
"We will go into that game with the same attitude that we have had and we are working to be more sharp," Cooper said.
"The women's QBL competition is better than ever and we can't take anyone lightly."
While both the Spartans and fellow Brisbane-based club Logan Thunder are one and two and deservedly favourites for the title, Cooper is confident Gladstone have the power to spoil the big city-centric party.
"We believed from the start of the season that we can win it," he added.
"We have got the right pieces together and it's the old saying that offence wins matches but defence wins championships.
"We feel like we can score freely and it's just a matter of working on our defence and our defence locking down on opposition players."
Cooper has given his players the licence to shoot and it doesn't matter who it is.
"We have got the rule that if you are open, then shoot it and the whole team has got that attitude," he said.
The scoring mainstays have been US sensations Tabatha Richardson-Smith, who is averaging 31.29ppg as well as 10.5 rebounds and centre Cassie Rochel.
She puts away a touch under 16ppg and pulls down 10 boards while veteran captain Charmian Mellars is almost in the average points and rebound double-double category.
"We know that everyone has the confidence to do that and sometimes it happens that we cause a mismatch in defence," Cooper said about the trio who are one of the best in a one-on-one situation in offence.
"Tabatha has had some huge numbers no one else has had and it's not just with her scoring and that speaks volumes on her team-mates who helped set her up."
Cooper said Richardson-Smith is a force in defence with her ability to rebound and shut down her direct opponent.
Things are not as rosey for Gladstone Port City Power's men's teams.
Double losses to Townsville and Cairns sealed the Power's finals fate.
Power have the chance to dent USC Rip's top four finals home court advantage aspirations when the two teams clash from 8pm this Saturday.
The two Gladstone teams then round out the final minor round with home matches against Cairns at 12.30pm and 2.30pm on August 6.