R5 Preview: Townsville v Perth
Who: Townsville Crocodiles v Perth Wildcats
When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Wednesday 4 November
Where: Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre
Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); NBL Live App
Last time they met: Townsville 66 (Norton 20, Jett 10) d Perth 63 (Knight 18), Round 3, Perth Arena
THE MATCH-UP Mitch Norton v Damian Martin – In Round 3, Norton nailed several big triples en route to 20 points and didn’t cough the ball up once in 23 minutes. Martin was on the sidelines that night though, and ‘The Shadow’ will provide a sterner test this time around.
THE STATS The Crocs are shooting just 41 per cent from two-point range – lowest in the NBL - while Perth are holding opponents to less than 43 per cent from inside the arc, second stingiest in the league.
THE STORY Some athletes deflect blame after a disappointing performance, but not Townsville’s Clint Steindl.
“I’m too good a shooter to go 1-for-8 from three,” he said after the Crocs’ nine-point loss in Sydney.
“If this team’s going to win I need to get that up to 50 per cent, so I take responsibility for that part of it.”
After Townsville fell behind by double figures in the opening quarter for the seventh time in eight games, Steindl said “that’s when we need the shots to drop.”
“It’s a killer, because we address it, we say we’ll go out there and do this or that, and then three minutes into the game we’re down 10,” he said. “It’s demoralising.”
The Crocs trailed by 20 in the first term against the Wildcats, but led by Mitch Norton, showed toughness and poise in a half-court grind, picking apart Perth’s vaunted defence to claim a memorable win.
What pace the Crocs will employ at home remains to be seen, but Perth proved they can win up-tempo the past fortnight, piling in 197 points in two wins over the Hawks. With Damian Martin and Casey Prather back in the line-up, a once-stagnant half-court offence had plenty of flow.
“(Martin) was real good today, he’s getting back and hopefully we can extend the minutes,” said coach Trevor Gleeson, who was delighted with Prather too.
“We’ve really have been missing that … his athleticism and speed, and Damo hit him with a couple of pearlers out there, so he’s only going to improve out of that as he gets more time on the court.”
Perth are unlikely to allow another monumental comeback, so the Crocs need the likes of Brian Conklin, Jordair Jett and Steindl on-song early to pinch a much-needed home win. With Nate Jawai in doubt, extra responsibility falls on Matt Knight and Jermaine Beal for the Wildcats.