Sport

Shepparton Gators round two preview

By Aydin Payne

Shepparton Gators will be out to bag consecutive road trip wins tonight when they tackle Collingwood All-Stars at the Darebin Community Sports Stadium.

The Gators are coming off a superb 14-point win against Whittlesea Pacers and head coach Leigh Bathman said his side was primed and ready for tonight’s tip-off after a lighter than usual week on the training court.

‘‘We had a light training week as we looked to manage a few sore boys, we spent time running through last game’s footage and just analysing a few things,’’ he said.

‘‘To the boys’ credit they picked up and raised a couple of things themselves which just shows the experience of the group.

‘‘When we did hit the floor we mainly worked on shooting and touch, but everyone is feeling good before our second straight road trip.’’

The Pacers lost the opening round by 19 points to Bulleen, but showed potency on the offence, scoring 19 points from fast breaks and scored 31 in the opening quarter before falling away.

Bathman believes Collingwood captain Manuel Hendrix (25 points) and youngster Deng Dut (24 points) will be two players the away side needs to nullify early in the game.

‘‘Hendrix is their star import and he’s a skilled point guard, as well as metro representative Deng Dut, who is a talented guard,’’ he said.

‘‘We do know their strengths as a team really well, we know they like to be quick on the transition and score quick on the fast breaks.

‘‘Our boys need to focus on three key areas, shot selection, ball retention and glass work, if we are to slow them down on transition. All three of those areas tie in to each other.’’

With injury clouds hovering above a few players, Bathman expects his young bench to rise up and perform if needed.

‘‘If a few of the boys aren’t quite ready and can’t get up for the trip, we know what the kids off the bench can bring to the table,’’ Bathman said.

‘‘Those boys need to have patience, as well as be ready for when the time comes to step up and fill a role.’’

The clash against the Collingwood All-Stars starts at 8pm tonight and is the final away game before the Gators host its first home game next weekend.