The Castec Rural Mount Gambier Pioneers men returned to winning ways by smashing the Sandringham Sabres on the road on Saturday night.
In a high-scoring contest, the Pioneers proved too good for their Melbourne based opponents to secure a historic maiden win in the NBL1 South competition.
After opening the season in disappointing fashion, Mount Gambier jumped clear of its shooting blues and put a huge 122 points on the board. Pioneers’ coach Richard Hill said it was the perfect response to the Bendigo defeat and get the campaign firing.
“We were pleased to win and it is always good to get one on the road,” he said. “We trained pretty hard because we were very disappointed after round 1, so the microscope was on everybody to step up including me.
“We were hard to guard and played at a good speed which was our aim and importantly shot the ball a lot better. “It was good to get a win just for everyone to feel good about each other.”
Mount Gambier’s hot pace in the opening stages set the tone as the Sabres could not content with the visitors’ speed down the court. The Pioneers raced to 37 points before the first buzzer and did not slow down going even better in the third term.
With the result inevitable, Mount Gambier slowed down slightly in the last quarter, but still managed to match Sandringham basket for basket to protect the lead. Kuany Kuany played a lone hand for the Sabres with 28 points from just 26 minutes on the court.
However, nothing could stop Duom Dawam from stealing the show. Dawam dominated the first half and went on to slam home 32 points. Hill said Dawam led a strong showing from all members on the court.
“Duom had a tremendous start scoring 24 points before the halfway mark and Tom (Daly) was too tall and talented for them,” he said. “Tom Kubank also played well and I thought Erik Burdon and Kyle Tipene gave us great punch off the bench.
“Shooting 16 from 30 three-point attempts makes a massive difference on its own, so everyone chipped in and it was a pretty good team performance.”
With this group every game is going to be something new and it was a serious game going on the road for the first time against a team that has been in the competition for a long time The Pioneers hope to bring their winning form to the Ice House this Saturday night and give their fans many reasons to cheer.
Mount Gambier hosts a side Hill has never coached before in the Ringwood Hawks. The Hawks also boast a 50-50 record having narrowly lost to Geelong Supercats with the dynamic duo of Aiden Sturt and CJ Asuncion-Byrd ones to watch.
It will be a big game for one man in particular who is returning to Ice House after an eight-year absence. Titus Robinson will put the Pioneers guernsey back on again fresh from serving two weeks in quarantine.
Hill is looking forward to welcoming the experienced player back on the floor, but is keeping his expectations low after limited preparations.
“Titus will only have a short training session on Friday night with the group before tip off and will be a big help for us,” he said. “I am not expecting great things from him to be honest and might struggle a little bit after sitting in a room for two weeks.
“We have been in contact regularly and he has an idea of what to expect, but it may take a few games because it will be very new for him.”
The only concern for Mount Gambier out of round 2 was Kane de Wit, who sustained a thigh strain.