Rocks coach Sterling Davis insists that his new look team are on the right path following their weekend Pre-Season Invitational Tournament at the Emirates Arena.
The Rocks beat a USA Select side 85-81 on Saturday, before a narrow 65-62 defeat the following day to German ProA side MLP Academics Heidelberg.
Davis said : “We got bigger this off-season. I think we had to. We have to adapt to other teams in the league who are building bigger teams. We have to protect the basket and guys like Daniel, Fran and Patrick have the ability to do that.”
It was Daniel Northern who, arguably, looked the most impressive of the new signings. His 30 points and 19 rebounds over the weekend showed that he will be relied upon heavily this season. The big centre also went to the foul line on 20 occasions, exactly half of the Rocks total.
Gareth Murray, fresh from his Eurobasket experience with Team GB, was the stand-out performer for the Rocks. Murray, who turned 29 on Monday, hit 21 against the Americans before adding 16 against a strong Heidelberg side – going 15 of 24 from the field.
On Saturday against the USA Select team, coach Davis rotated his side to ensure the entire roster got considerable game time. Despite expectedly looking rusty on occasions, the Rocks deservedly got the win – leading by as much as 16 points before somewhat holding on for the four point victory.
The following day was a considerably lower scoring affair, with Davis admitting he was delighted with the defensive display of his side. Northern was the Rocks game MVP, leading the team in points (18), rebounds (11) and blocks (2) but the more athletic Germans were able to eke out a narrow three point victory.
With two weeks to go before the Rocks season opener against Surrey United, coach Davis said : “We’re just going to keep practising hard and maybe try and set up another game or two. I’m definitely happy with where we’re at just now. I thought the performance today (against Heidelberg) was great. It was important to play against a good, tough team like that and it will stand us in good stead going into the season.”