The Cobra Men have pushed their winning streak to six games following a pair tough road victories over the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence and Canberra Gunners in Round 6 SEABL action.
“It was great to get two wins on the road against great opposition,” Cobras coach Justin Schueller said of the team’s weekend.
“We didn’t play perfect this weekend, but I loved our resilience and willingness to battle and get the job done, and that’s something we want to keep building on.”
Schueller’s Men gritted out an 84-82 win on Friday over the Centre of Excellence, pulling away late and making key plays down the stretch as they topped the league’s youngest team. Facing the up-tempo CoE, the Cobras went small to match the speed and athleticism of Australia’s best young talent, much to the delight of Cobras forward, Dane Pineau. Pineau was a force on both ends, recording a season-high 17 points and adding 12 rebounds, three assists, and a pair of steals and blocks in an impressive all-around performance. Schueller’s small lineup also saw Isaac Turner and Felix von Hofe light it up offensively, with the pair combining for 40 points in the win, including an 11-for-11 performance at the foul line.
Though Pineau, Turner and von Hofe posted big numbers, Schueller pointed to swingman Owen Odigie as a key in the teams win, with his ability to step up and play big enabling Kilsyth to roll with a faster lineup.
“Owen set the standard for us when we went small, and it allowed him to use his athleticism,” Schueller said.
“And big contributions from Felix, Isaac and Dane were also keys to us winning.”
Struggling to slow the CoE early in Friday’s matchup, the Cobras came up big on the defensive end when it counted most, holding the CoE to just 5-19 shooting in the final period to escape with the win.
“We didn’t live by our traits in the first half, but our second half was pleasing to see,” Schueller added.
The Cobras continued their winning ways on Saturday night, as they lit up the Canberra Gunners to win, 97-85, for their sixth consecutive victory.
Battling the smaller, quicker, Centre of Excellence on Friday, the Cobras were faced with a different challenge on Saturday night, as they took on a huge Canberra frontline headed by the 6’10 Eric Gaff and 6’11 Ben Allen. But the Cobras front court of Pineau, von Hofe, Chris Patton and Desmond Owili were up to the task, each producing in a big way to lead Kilsyth to victory.
“Dane and Chris did a great job going up against size, and Felix was efficient once again for us,” Schueller said about his front line.
“Even contribution again was our strength, as we got all guys contributing. Our depth is our strength right now.”
von Hofe led the Cobras with a game-high 24 points on Saturday; Pineau finished with eight points, 12 boards, three steals and two blocks; Patton added 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks; and Owili was a spark off the bench with five points and a pair of emphatic rejections.
The bigs weren’t the only ones who stepped up against Canberra, though, with Turner, Odigie and Sam Daly each recording double-digit scoring outings. The Cobras guards repeatedly attacked the paint on Saturday, resulting in easy baskets and helping Schueller’s squad record another impressive point total.
“Once we were able to get pace into the game, we were able to get feet in the paint and create good opportunities from there,” Schueller said.
The Cobras 50 points in the paint were a season high; an encouraging total considering the size of the Gunners front court. And after proving that they can play both small and big over the course of the weekend, Schueller is pleased with his team’s versatility and ability to adapt to game flow.
“I like how are group is responding to the challenges thrown at them and we feel we keep building in the right direction,” Schueller added.
The weekend sweep sees the Cobras end Round 6 with a league-best 7-1 record. They’ll take aim at their seventh consecutive win on Saturday night, when they play host to league newcomers, the Diamond Valley Eagles. The Lady Cobras tip-off Saturday’s home doubleheader at 6pm, with the Men to follow at 8pm.
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