Mixed bag for Rockingham Flames in season openers

Rockingham FlamesSound Telegraph
Skippers Ari Hetherington and Ryan Godfrey claimed the Wave Cup for the Flames based on the combined score of both matches.
Camera IconSkippers Ari Hetherington and Ryan Godfrey claimed the Wave Cup for the Flames based on the combined score of both matches.

After much fanfare heralding the biggest changes in WA basketball in 30 years, the NBL1 West finally tipped off last Friday night with the Rockingham Flames splitting their series with the Cockburn Cougars a game apiece at Wally Hagan Stadium.

In the early tip-off, the Flames women couldn’t take advantage of fast starts to begin each stanza, or brilliant personal performances from Alex Ciabattoni and Tayah Burrows, as a lack of fitness and experienced personnel, and superior shooting from their opponents took their toll as they went down to the Cougars 85-78.

The Flames trailed at each break but were able to play themselves back into the contest, hitting the lead early in the second and third quarters before tailing off and surrendering it back in each.

Despite close attention from a busy and physical Cougars defence, star playmakers Ciabattoni and Burrows were able to impact the game as Ciabattoni registered a game-high 32 points, while Burrows was industrious throughout and finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Meanwhile, the Flames men are off to the best possible start following a hard-fought 86-72 win over their Cockburn counterparts.

The Flames found their groove after a lacklustre first quarter, in which they scored only 16 points and trailed by five at the break, with captain Ryan Godfrey, Travis Durnin, Callum Beard and new recruit Cirkook Riak standing out offensively.

Godfrey (23 points), Durnin (18) and Beard (17) bodied their way to the rim on multiple occasions to provide a spark, while Riak showed incredible energy and finished with an impressive double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Fellow new boy Atem Bior, who had been in quarantine up until just a couple days before the game after his arrival from Queensland, also showed glimpses of his prowess under the basket at both ends and gave coach Ryan Petrik plenty to be pleased about. The Flames also won the Wave Cup, which was decided on a score aggregate of the men’s and women’s games. The Flames claimed victory with a score of 164-157.

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