Blaze catch fire to grab third win
THE Gold Coast Blaze was on fire on Sunday night, producing arguably its best performance of the season, but coach Joey Wright says the best is yet to come.
Ira Clarke (24 points) produced a dominant performance as the home team trounced the Adelaide 36ers 95-79 at the Gold Coast Entertainment Convention Centre.
Co-captain James Harvey (18) produced a fine display in his 100th game for the club, and livewire Chris Goulding (15) was also among the points, as the Blaze won three in a row for the first time this season.
“I am extremely happy with the way we played. Without a doubt it was one of the best games we have played this year,” Wright said.
“We played with a lot of energy and executed on defence, so I am very happy with the way the guys went.”
The coach can see areas where his team can improve as the season comes down to the wire, with finals ambitions on the line.
“We have some room for improvement on defence for sure. Even our offence we can do better,” Wright said.
“When you shoot the way we were shooting on Sunday you can make up for a lot of mistakes, so there is definitely room for improvement on defence,” Wright said.
The Blaze faces a tough double-header against New Zealand Breakers, which starts at home on Sunday.
“Right now we have got to go out and try to keep winning,” Wright said.
“We have won three games in a row now, which is the first time we have done that this year, so we will try to keep winning. That is the only thing we can do, then we see what happens at the end of the year.”
The Blaze has found consistency as it emerges from a horror run with injury. While talisman Mark Worthington is out for the season, Wright is pleased he will have an otherwise full squad to choose from for Sunday's clash.
“Without a doubt New Zealand has been the best team in the league this year. They have all bases covered and on their attack on the inside and outside, they do a lot of good things.
“We are just happy to have a full squad to play against them, and we'll see what we can do with it.”
Clarke's performance sparked the Blaze last Sunday night, Wright said.
“Ira was definitely a focal point. He dominated early on and by him dominating, it made the team react.
“It was a team effort but it really started with Ira's presence in the middle.”
There will be no better place for the Blaze to take on the Breakers than at the Convention Centre.
“Our fans have been great. They always come down to the Entertainment Centre, they make a lot of noise and the players really feed off that,” Wright said.