Smith for a warm reception
Kings not at full throttle
By Nikki Tugwell
January 14, 2005
THEY are the two-time defending champions and the best-performed outfit this season, yet they are still 30 per cent below their potential.
That is the ominous
appraisal from the Kings captain Jason Smith, ahead of their grudge match double, against the 36ers in Adelaide tonight then West Sydney at the Entertainment Centre tomorrow night.
Marginally ahead of Wollongong at the top of the NBL ladder, the Kings remain without centre Brett Wheeler (ankle) while impressive US import Rolan Roberts is still gradually adjusting to the Australian league.
"Without Wheeler it leaves us a bit thin in the big position and Rolan has fouled out in our last two games," Smith said.
"Hopefully over the next few games Rolan can provide more minutes ... so with Wheeler in the team we would be 80 per cent with the chance to get better before the end of the season ... we're probably about 70 per cent without him."
Wheeler did not fly to Adelaide yesterday as coach Brian Goorjian wants to give him every chance to rehabilitate before the play-offs.
The 36ers were too strong for the Kings in their last meeting a fortnight ago in Adelaide, with captain Brett Maher and import Willie Farley the chief enforcers.
Adelaide have a strong support base and a dislike for the Kings, so Smith is expecting another colourful reception.
"They know we live in a better city and we play for a better organisation so they'll hold that against us," Smith joked.
"It will be a war."
Old WNBL rivals the Sydney University Flames and Adelaide Lightning also square up at the Entertainment Centre tomorrow night before the Kings' play the Pigs.
The Flames, with a 13-4 win-loss split, are third on the WNBL ladder behind first-placed Dandenong and Bulleen with Adelaide (9-7) in fourth.
"If we can win all our remaining games we will secure second spot so while we're not looking too far ahead that's where we're aiming for," Flames forward Trish Fallon said.
In round 16 of the WNBL, tonight Dandenong host Canberra and Adelaide visit Townsville.
Tomorrow, Bulleen host Canberra and on Sunday the AIS play Dandenong in Canberra.
In other NBL games tonight, the Breakers play the Tigers in Auckland, and the Pirates take on the Pigs in Newcastle.
Tomorrow night the Bullets play the Pirates in Brisbane and the Taipans host the Crocs in Cairns.