International boost for unbeaten women's Force
BASKETBALL: Already in terrific shape, the Ipswich Force women are set to become even better in this year's Queensland Basketball League competition.
Force's second import Gintare Maziontye has arrived from her home in Lithuania, after a successful European season in the Sweden Pro League.
The Lithuanian squad member played in a recent grand final before jetting to Queensland to join an Ipswich team which has won its first two games of the new QBL Women's season.
Force head coach Brad George was delighted to see Maziontye arrive safely this week and quickly settle into team training. The Force newcomer was jetlagged after her 30 hours of travelling.
"She's all good to go,'' George said, preparing for Saturday night's latest match against the Brisbane Capitals.
"She'll give us some more size and rebounding so we're not relying on "AJ'' (American import Amanda Johnson).
"It also allows Bree (captain Bree Farley) and Georgia (Williams) to settle back into their normal roles, out on the wings.
"It will just give us a bit more balance.''
After beating Cairns and Logan with powerful finishes, the Force women have shown enough to suggest they'll be a finals threat again this season.
While it's only early days, George is keen to see experienced players like Farley, Maziontye and AJ lead the team's energy-charged youth brigade.
AJ had the proverbial blinder against Logan at Llewellyn Stadium last Sunday after a slow start.
She finished with 42 points and 19 rebounds before being rested for the last four minutes.
"Hopefully she can continue that spectacular form every week,'' George said, happy to see her make an early impact.
"She's in a good head space and that.''
Such dominant form has the seasoned QBL coach happy with his team's promising early performances.
"To get both of them is a good start,'' George said. "They are two teams we could have possibly dropped (games to), because they are both pretty strong.
"Everyone has contributed and that's what we are looking for.''
However, George knows his team must keep focused playing its first away match at Auchenflower on Saturday night.
"They run hard and play hard,'' George said of the Capitals. "They are sort of similar to what Logan will present.''
In last weekend's match, it was in the third quarter that the Force team took charge, led by AJ, Farley and ever-reliable guard Rachel Mate.
With his roster complete, George hopes he can get his team's balance right now, especially with some exciting young players like Kate Head and Catherine Macgregor already stepping up for Ipswich this season.
QBL: Saturday (7pm) - Ipswich Force v Brisbane Capitals at NAB Stadium, Auchenflower.
QBL Women: Saturday (5pm) - Ipswich Force v Brisbane Capitals at NAB Stadium.