COACH: 'An individual won't get it done'
Basketball: Rivalries bring out the fiercest of competition, and Jason Borg expects it will be no different tonight.
The Mackay Meteors coach is accustomed to the hostile reception his side receives when players venture south to duel the Rockhampton Rockets.
With this in mind, he called on the sugar city's basketball fans to bring a similar atmosphere to The Crater.
"It's never a pleasant environment when you play in Rockhampton, never,” Borg said.
"It's pretty raucous; they're very unforgiving, so we would like our fans to be just as unforgiving to them.
"We like to be intense for every game we play, it doesn't matter who it's against, but it probably always adds a bit of spice when you play against Rockhampton.”
The resilience of Borg's side has been a pleasing aspect of the Meteors's game. In the past two fixtures, the Mackay outfit has trailed by 13 points early in the contest before clawing its way back into the fight.
While the team rallied and marched to victory two weeks ago against the Southern District Spartans, last round opponents Brisbane Capitals did not give the home side the same leeway in a 95-88 Meteors loss.
Borg said the come-from-behind attitude showed his team could compete with the best, given their Brisbane counterparts sat atop of the competition ladder.
But the slow starts were a concerning theme in recent weeks.
Borg said it was promising they refused to throw in the towel and made the Capitals earn the win, but they needed to develop consistency across all four quarters leading into the finals.
"It'd be great to have the answers to all these questions; when you fix one problem another problem arises,” Borg said.
"Earlier in the year we were struggling early - we got better at that then started to struggle in third quarters. Then we improved that and we go back.
"I've said all year I can't wait for the day when our guys put together 40 minutes, it'll be great to watch and we'd be a tough team to beat.
"We're just trying to concentrate on being consistent for 40 minutes and hopefully that gets the job done.”
The Rockets will be led by former Meteors MVP Shaun Bruce, and the 1.9m guard has hit a purple patch of form.
Averaging a tick over 20 points a game, Bruce will headline a towering team that has a significant height advantage over Borg's men.
But the Mackay mentor said they were used to overcoming this obstacle.
"We need to accommodate for playing against a side that is bigger than us. They've got two 6'11'' guys and a 6'9'' guy off the bench, so we just need to be smart in what we do and play our basketball, not their's,” Borg said.
"Most teams we play against we're not as big as, but we've got a good average height. We're used to it, it's just this team is particularly big.”
The last time the central Queensland rivals met, the Mackay outfit suffered a 102-86 loss away from home.
While the Meteors sit just above Rockhampton in fifth spot - with a finals spot guaranteed - Borg said a collective defensive effort was needed for their offence to click into gear.
"We as a group need to play together against Rockhampton, because an individual won't get it done against a team of that quality,” he said.
"It helps when one or two guys have stand out nights, but we need everyone to contribute around that.”
Tip off will be at 8.30pm at McDonald's Mackay Stadium. The team will don new jerseys and auction them off to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Northern Australia.