Cyclones new arrival Chandrea Jones has already tested the boards at Hegvold Stadium.
Cyclones new arrival Chandrea Jones has already tested the boards at Hegvold Stadium. Allan Reinikka

Cyclones coach rapt in imports

IT WAS a smiling Frenchville Sports Club Cyclones coach, Heath Millar, who watched as his two "import" players Chandrea Jones and Shanavia Dowdell went through a few drills for the television cameras at Hegvold Stadium yesterday.

Jones had just arrived in the city and was re-acquainting herself with her friend and former teammate Dowdell.

The guard said it was Dowdell who had put the idea of playing basketball in Australia into her head while both players were playing in Belgium.

Like Jones she returned to the United States for a small break, her home town is Baltimore, before making the trip to Rockhampton.

The quietly spoken Jones has come through from the college scene in the US where she was with Syracuse before having playing spells at Luxembourg, France before moving to the Belgian competition.

"I had a good time there (Belgium) the people were good and the two coaches were great," she said.

However, she admits it was disappointing for her and her teammates to fail at the final hurdle after a season where her club side was almost unbeatable.

"They were the better team on the day," she admitted.

Jones said while she enjoyed Belgium her first spell in Europe was not so good.

"In Luxembourg the basketball was not strong, but it was my first time playing in Europe," she said.

"But I like to adapt wherever I go."

At 175cm (5ft 9in) Jones is an average size for the position of guard and yet she said one of the strengths she brings to the Cyclones is her skills as a rebounder.

"I get about 10 (match average)," she said.

For Millar and the Cyclones this is a bonus and it makes the Cyclones a very strong team in this aspect of the game.

Millar is also happy about Jones and Dowdell being friends off the court as it makes it easier for players from another country to settle when they know someone.

"Her rebounding will be a great bonus for us," he said.

Another difficulty a coach can have is getting the import players to form a unit with the locals in a team.

But he is confident there will be no problems as both Jones and Dowdell, along with Nicole Romeo who arrives next week, have the type of personalities to ensure the players gel.

Millar is confident when it is finals time the Cyclones will be in the mix.

"I think this year we can go right down to 10 on the bench," he said.

The Cyclones are next in action at Hegvold Stadium against Mackay on May 6.

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