THE dream start to the season continued for the Kennedys Tours Shoalhaven Tigers men’s team at the weekend.
Head coach Ian Ozolins’ team have made it three straight wins to start their 2017 NSW Waratah League division one campaign on Saturday, defeating Illawarra Hawks 99-79 at the Snakepit.
Being 3-0 to start the season is fantastic and where we want to be
“Being 3-0 to start the season is fantastic and where we want to be,” Ozolins said.
“It leaves us on top of the table after three games and makes people have to chase us.”
The Tigers had to do it the hard way though, being behind by 11 points at quarter time.
“Offensively we weren’t too bad on Saturday, managing to score 20 points,” Ozolins said.
“But we simply didn’t bring the necessary defensive effort – we didn’t show energy or weren't in the passing lanes and they made us pay.
“This lack of respect shown by us saw them score 31 in the first quarter, which is half of what we allowed in the whole game against St George.”
The Tigers then gradually worked their way back into the clash, only allowing 16 points in each of the next three quarters.
“Once we picked up the intensity on defence, our offence started to flow and we closed the gap, being only down by a couple of baskets at the main break,” Ozolins said.
“We hit to lead during the third quarter and managed to go on with it. We can't afford to have those slow starts because the top teams will punish us.”
A large reason for the comeback win was the contribution of Ozolins bench players.
“Mathew Ganderton was superb on both ends of the ball – having scored more points in the last two weeks than he probably did all last season,” Ozolins said.
“Tim Hanlon continues to provide solid defence and rebounding from the bench, while Brendan Sampson gets better each week, as shown by his crucial 10 points.”
Tom Ozolins led all scorers with 22 points, followed by William Ozolins with 20 and Jackson Weeks with 17.
The Tigers will now prepare for the Wagga Wagga Heat this Saturday at the Tigers Den.
“We will again have to be at our best this Saturday against Wagga,” Ozolins said.
“Although it’s a different team from last year, they seem to have a number of young blokes in their squad, along with an import power forward.”
This weekend also marks the women’s Shoalhaven team’s first game of the season, as they host Wagga Wagga from 5pm, followed by the men at 7pm.