Australian recruit shows quality in Ipswich victory thriller
HAVING a loyal Australian player display his class and lead Ipswich to victory enhanced a fantastic return to the court for the Force men's basketballers.
Boomers and Brisbane Bullets star Nathan Sobey nailed 33 points, including seven three-pointers, to guide Ipswich to a memorable 87-86 win over Brisbane Capitals.
His superb last shot performance with 14 seconds left at Ipswich stadium came in the opening round of the restructured Queensland State League competition.
Sobey was only allowed to join the Ipswich side late in the week after being cleared to play.
Having agreed to join Force for the inaugural NBL1 North season before the COVID shutdown, Sobey could easily have continued his own off-season training.
However, Force head coach Chris Riches said his willingness to help the young Ipswich side typified Sobey's character.
"He is a phenomenal person,'' Riches said, appreciating the Bullets for generously granting him approval to play.
"He made that commitment early on, has stayed involved with the community and done a few bits and pieces around the Ipswich Grammar School and so forth.
"It's one of those situations that we've very, very happy with him.''
Sobey's availability for the QSL will be a week-to-week option, depending on his Bullets NBL training program.
"He's just getting back into fitness,'' Riches said.
"It depends on the COVID situation. It depends on the Brisbane Bullets and it also depends on how he feels.
"This is really just a warm-up for him, to try and get ready for pre-season for the Bullets.''
Having Sobey offer to help wasn't the only aspect of the match that pleased Riches.
"Probably the biggest thing for me personally is just getting back on court,'' Riches said.
"Just having it all come together.
"The last couple of months we've had conversations ongoing but just being able to put a competition together and have senior basketball being played . . . and then having the likes of Nathan come out and play with us.''
With his largely Ipswich-bred side on court, Sobey led the way providing top quality guidance for players like Kane Bishop and Mitch Poulain.
"Nathan is a really good guy,'' Riches said.
"When he arrived in the change room, he was speaking to everyone, really geeing everyone up. It was really good.''
Force captain Jason Ralph made his return to the Ipswich court after missing most of last year's state league season battling a back injury that required surgery.
Ryan Jefferies provided more valuable experience.
Ipswich trailed by as much as 18 points in the second quarter before Sobey and Jesse Ghee (23 points) turned Force's fortunes around.
In a huge effort, Force outscored Brisbane 28-11 in the final quarter.
Sobey shot the last seven points to complete a fine first-up win.
Force women's coach Terry Lindeberg was confident his team's offence would improve after they lost their opening QSL match 72-65 to Brisbane Capitals.
Despite some injury and illness issues, Lindeberg was happy to see his players gain valuable court time, including exciting youth players Catherine MacGregor and Grace Hughes.
Co-captain Amy Lewis delivered a brave performance, topscoring with 31 points despite battling a calf injury.
QSL Division 1 men: Ipswich Force 87 (Nathan Sobey 33, Jesse Ghee 23) def Brisbane Capitals 86 at JBS Stadium.
QSL Division 1 women: Brisbane Capitals 72 def Ipswich Force 65 (Amy Lewis 31, Rachel Mate 12) at JBS Stadium.
Next matches: Next Sunday -Ipswich v Sunshine Coast Phoenix at Maroochydore.