Why Force men benefited from first-up QBL defeat
BASKETBALL: Having matched Mackay for much of Ipswich's season-opening game, Force men's coach Chris Riches was disappointed but far from devastated about the loss.
With a youth-laden group of talented players, he always expected Mackay to pose a major threat kickstarting a new Queensland Basketball League season.
Mackay's experience came to the fore in the final quarter, shaking Ipswich's effort to win 107-95 at Ipswich stadium.
"It just came down to the last minute,'' Riches said.
"We've got a group coming together that's on the run and they will get better each week.
"That's what we're looking for this week.''
Preparing to play Sunshine Coast Phoenix away on Saturday night, Riches was pleased to see vice-captain Kyle Harvey opening his sixth season with 34 points.
"Kyle is super consistent and he always gives his all,'' Riches said of the American import.
"And that's one of the defining features. There's not a lot of other players around the league or so forth who just have the ability to turn up, night in, night out, regardless of who you are playing and put in that type of performance on the court.''
Ipswich products Marty Leahy and Mitch Poulain also received valuable minutes in the season-opener, building combinations with regulars like Harvey, captain Jason Ralph, James Kuon, Alex Godinet, Josh Spiers and new import Jayden Ferguson, who contributed 21 points on debut.
"That's a key thing for us,'' Riches said. "Being able to support that youth that's come through our association and really work on what our program stands for. The development of those Ipswich players.''
Riches sees Saturday's opponents Sunshine Coast Phoenix as another opportunity to test their early form after the home side beat USQ Rip 77-65 last weekend.
The Force coach knows his team is facing some of the competition big guns early.
"We're just looking forward to getting out there . . . and making sure that we are competitive and fighting hard.''
Riches said playing Mackay was a good learning lesson for Ipswich.
"Just finding the little things right across the game that will help us later on.
"There's no issues. The guys are turning up, working hard day in, day out.''
The Ipswich Force women are also looking to get their season up and running against Sunshine Coast Phoenix on Saturday after a last-quarter fade against Mackay.
Leading 57-52 heading into the final period, Force only scored two more points as the visitors coasted to a 73-59 victory.
Coach Brad George expected more from his quality-rich side after such a positive 2018 season and recruiting well in the off-season.
QBL Rd 2: Saturday (5.30pm and 7.30pm) - Ipswich Force v Sunshine Coast Phoenix at Maroochydore.