Written by Greg Dawkins, Photos by JDR creative
Rip City captain Isaih Tueta says the team is locked in as they set out to make history for the University of Sunshine Coast Basketball Club.
The USC men’s team are coming off a 94-72 quarter-final win over Gold Coast Rollers and are just one win away from making the club’s first grand final in the state’s top tier competition.
“We feel confident as a group that we can beat anyone that we come up against,” Tueta said.
“The win against Gold Coast solidifies that for us.”
The road win at Gold Coast was already a breakthrough for Rip City after three previous losses at the quarter-final stage since the club’s first year in 2017.
USC Rip City face the Meteors in the inaugural NBL1 North semi-finals tonight (Saturday 4 September) at Mackay Basketball Stadium.
While the stakes are high, the team are focused on the teamwork and chemistry that got them this far.
“For us our focus remains the same,” Tueta said. “Stick together as a group and lock in on the defensive end of the floor.”
In the only meeting this season, Rip City beat the Meteors 97-80 at USC Sports Stadium in Round 7 on June 27. Tueta tallied 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the victory.
“Last time we played Mackay was at the back end of their double header, and way earlier in the season,” Tueta said.
“We have confidence from the first win but understand that playing away from home provides a new set of challenges.”
Rip City’s main scoring threat, Brisbane Bullets swingman Tanner Krebs, tallied a 34 points and 13 rebounds double double in the win over Mackay.
Krebs, who averages 25.45 points per game, scored a game-high 26 points, 11 rebounds in last week’s win.
The 2020-21 NBL rookie will line up for Rip City again tonight, while other NBL players, including Mackay centre Harry Froling (Illawarra Hawks), have been recalled to their teams.
Tueta will be joined in the backcourt by Kyle Zunic, who was given the tall task of shutting down Brisbane Bullets star Jason Cadee last week. While the Rollers guard did tally a triple double, Zunic managed to keep Cadee below his scoring average and set the tone for the team’s gritty defence.
Zunic, who averages 14 points, five assists and six rebounds per game, will no doubt get a top assignment tonight.
The Meteors are coming off a 93-83 quarter-final victory over Brisbane Capitals. Mackay guard Chris Cedar led the way with a game-high 37 points including 7 of 11 attempts made from deep.
Rip City will also look to their rotation of Eric McAlister, Josh Tueta, and Louis Ilton in the front
court to help USC reach the best-of-three final against Logan or Cairns next week. The trio all scored in double figures against Gold Coast including 20 from McAlister and a double-double from Ilton.
The club has invited fans, members and sponsors to watch the game day live stream in the USC Stadium function room. Drinks and food will be on sale with bar service in the function room and Rip City Espresso open.
Get your free tickets here. Doors open from 6:30pm, Tip-off 8pm USC Stadium - Function room.