September 22, 2006

Article at Chris on Authory

Wildcats signal early intentions over newcomer Slingers

Perth’s 12-point win over Singapore at Challenge Stadium showed two things. That the Wildcats have the talent to challenge for the title this year and that the Slingers have a lot of hard work ahead of them to deal with the NBL’s new frontier.

Wildcats coach Scott Fisher couldn’t have been happier with his side’s first game of the 2006-07 season. A win that was never in jeopardy and for him a reward for their hard work.

“We’ve been together for a while and worked very hard. It’s great to get some reward for that. This is our home ground and we need to be better at home. The crowd shows up, wearing their red and it’s a lot easier to play at home,” said Fisher.

The 12-point win might have truly reflected their dominance, but Fisher was pleased with how the game unfolded. Darren Brooks was outstanding, as were fellow starters Tony Ronaldson, Adam Caporn, Paul Rogers and Shawn Redhage.

“For the most part our defence was solid, our guys were working hard and it’s unfortunate that the score was only 12-points as it felt we controlled the game the whole way,” he said.

“Brooks had a great game and shot the ball very well. He was under control on his dribbles and passed the ball well. Shawn worked very hard and Ronaldson had a great first half.

“Adam would have liked to have done better offensively, but used the ball well and his assist-turnover ratio was very good. All our starters played quite well and our bench guys will hopefully give us a bit more next week.”

For Singapore coach Gordie McLeod, the start to the game where they fell behind by as much as 20 in the first half let them down. Despite that they hung in their well and despite the hard work ahead, is confident they can perform well.

“It was disappointing the way we came out of the blocks, but Perth are one of the most advanced teams in terms of their execution and what they’re running,” said McLeod.

“We haven’t been able to get enough quality practices with our full group together to work on handling pressure better. I was very pleased with how we hung up in there and I was pleased with the second half and we showed a lot of character to hang in there.”

The conditions in Singapore, training in a non-air-conditioned facility in the humid climate will take some adjusting to for their players. McLeod has had to change their practices to the afternoon, but the whole group is enjoying the challenge.

“It’s been tough for them. It’s not air-conditioned, is very hot and humid. Practice is very difficult; we’ve had to can our practices in the morning, as the court is too slippery. The afternoon’s a bit better,” he said.

NBL-newcomers Singapore found out that winning on the road in Australia will not be an easy task as the Perth Wildcats led all game to win 94-82 at Challenge Stadium tonight.

On a high after winning their first ever match in the NBL on Wednesday over the Adelaide 36ers, Singapore had a rude awakening to playing away in the competition in their first ever away game in the opening term.

With veteran Tony Ronaldson on fire early and the Wildcats playing an up-tempo style in their opening game of the season, the home side looked unstoppable. They raced to 10-2 lead and extended that to as much as 21-points, before leading 33-15 at quarter-time.

Ronaldson nailed three from long range and had 13-points in the opening term. Guard Adam Caporn made an impressive start as well with five assists. However, Perth were helped out by some sloppy ball use by the Slingers early.

Singapore’s first two possessions were turnovers and their third a missed jump shot by forward Ben Knight. Their first score in an away game in the NBL came from centre Ben Melmeth, but the home side already had 10-points on the board.

Singapore appeared to be capable of coming right back into the game when Mike Helms nailed a three-pointer to bring the margin to just nine with five-minutes remaining in the half. However, the Wildcats outscored the Slingers 16-6 for the rest of the quarter to lead by 19 at half-time.

Despite Singapore showing some signs of being capable of coming back in the third-quarter, Perth held firm maintaining their large lead. At three quarter-time the match was all but over as they led 76-59.

Forward Marquin Chandler may have been the highlight in the Slingers win over the 36ers, he had no impact against the well-drilled Wildcats. He finished with 16 points, but 12 in the final term. Fellow starting forward Ben Knight was solid with 12-points, but Helms was their star.

Running their offence he finished with 24-points, which included three from long range. He is sure to prove hard to stop by opposing guards as the 2006-07 goes on.

Ronaldson slowed after his great start to finish with 20-points, but the Wildcats load was well spread and they appear to have a strong roster that play an exciting brand of basketball.

Darren Brooks thrilled the home crowd with flashes of brilliance and finished with 23-points, while Shawn Redhage had 16 and captain Paul Rogers 12-points and 11 rebounds.

All 10 of the Wildcats team scored and had an impact on the game. Coach Scott Fisher couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the 2006-07 season.

The result won’t have much time to sink in for either side as they meet again in Singapore on Wednesday night.