Valuable court experience to step up, settle the nerves
ALTHOUGH his side was in a position to win back-to-back games, Ipswich Force men's head coach Chris Riches was far from disappointed about the latest Queensland State League defeat.
Ipswich led for the first half before Sunshine Coast Phoenix secured a 108-98 victory at Maroochydore.
"The third quarter was really where our issue was,'' Riches said, reflecting on the 35 points his team conceded.
But a week after Ipswich upstaged the Brisbane Capitals in a one-point thriller, Riches was encouraged by his team's progress.
"There were signs of improvement in regards to the first half,'' he said.
"It's always a challenge going to the Sunshine Coast because of the travel and so forth.
"I felt better about this game than what I did against the Brisbane game, based on our general performance.
"We probably just didn't reach where we needed to get to.
"The first half was our story and the second half was theirs. So the opportunity was there for us to win the game.''
Australian Boomers and Brisbane Bullets recruit Nathan Sobey led the way again with 35 points. Handy contributions were made by Jesse Ghee (19 points), Mitch Poulain (14) and Ryan Jeffries (13).
Riches' main focus is helping his Ipswich-bred players learn from the more accomplished players while developing their games.
"It's still one of these types of scenarios where you're still learning a lot,'' the head coach said.
"The COVID shutdown, the NBL1 shutdown. You are still trying to find your feet in a lot of ways.
"It's just a matter of getting everyone to pull in the same direction at the right time. That's really the key for us at the moment.''
Saturday night's third round men's and women's games against South West Metro at Hibiscus Stadium are being livestreamed on the QT website.
The Ipswich Force women can chase their first QSL victory against a team guided by former coach Brad George and their previous captain Bree Farley.
The Force women lost their second round clash 69-51 to Sunshine Coast Phoenix at Maroochydore on Sunday afternoon.
With co-captain Amy Lewis rested with a calf injury, head coach Terry Lindeberg gave his young brigade extra playing time.
"Everyone got on the court,'' Lindeberg said.
After leading the first quarter, Ipswich only scored six points in the next period, allowing the home side to take charge.
"That was the downside of the whole game probably,'' Lindeberg said.
"We just couldn't keep running, shot a very low percentage again.''
However, that's the value of this year's QSL competition for Ipswich's youth-laden side lining up against more seasoned state league regulars from Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg.
Sunshine Coast won their first two games.
"I've got girls starting still nervous,'' the coach said.
"It's just experience for them to get over that and get on the court.
"They (Sunshine Coast) certainly give it to us as far as the physical side.''
STATE OF PLAY
QSL Division 1 men: Sunshine Coast Phoenix 108 def Ipswich Force 98 (Nathan Sobey 35, Jesse Ghee 19).
QSL Division 1 women: Sunshine Coast Phoenix 69 def Ipswich Force 51.
Next matches: Ipswich Force v SW Metro Pirates at JBS Stadium on Saturday (games being livestreamed at: qt.com.au)