window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-C0NEPLQW4Z');

Round 5 Cougars Wrap – Men

Share this article

The Cockburn Cougars men did plenty right against the Rockingham Flames on Saturday especially at the defensive end despite the loss, but it’s finding more offensive cohesion that’s the focus for coach Mark Clayden.

It’s a fascinating quirk of the early NBL1 West season that the three games the Cougars have lost have all been road trips south after losing to the South West Slammers back in Round 2, the Mandurah Magic in Round 4 and then this past Saturday evening to the Rockingham Flames.

Cockburn took on the Flames at Mike Barnett Sports Complex and they came up against a motivated Rockingham team who suffered a first loss of the season the previous week at home to the Willetton Tigers.

It’s a Flames team who won the NBL1 West and National Championships in 2022 before finishing top of the table again in 2023 and making the championship game of the National Finals.

It was also a Rockingham team with enormous firepower with imports Devondrick Walker and Quintin Dove, NBL big man Gorjok Gak and the newly arrived Jono Janssen along with regulars Ryan Godfrey, Justin Beard and Travis Durnin.

So there were plenty of weapons the Cougars had to lock down on and Cockburn did put in a terrific defensive performance to hold that Rockingham team to just 83 points on 42 per cent field goal shooting and going 9/27 from three-point range.

Cockburn also did well to keep Dove in foul trouble the entire game and limit him to four points and four rebounds while the defensive job on two-time MVP Walker was strong too, forcing him to shooting 6/17 to have to work hard for his 19 points.

However, it was at the offensive end where the Cougars found the going tough managing to score just 75 points on 36 per cent shooting and only getting to the foul line 10 times for the night.

Josh Hunt continued his career-best form with another 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals with Rhys Vague adding 15 points, six assists and five rebounds with Gavin Field adding 11 points and seven boards.

Riley Bensemann contributed another 10 points and two steals with Noah Stewart adding five points, two rebounds and two assists, Demetris Morant four points and nine boards, Matt Clifford four points and three rebounds, Nathan Pond four points, two boards and two blocks, and Hunter Clarke two points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Looking back on the game and Clayden did like what the Cougars did defensively for most of the evening, but it’s at the offensive end where he’s hoping things start to better come together.

“It’s kind of some mixed feelings and before the game if you told me we’d hold that Rocko team to 83 points, I would have thought we’d won the game,” Clayden said.

“But offensively again we’re just making life a little bit harder than it needs to be and I thought Petto’s team actually played pretty good defence on us as well.

“They mixed it up and did a few things that saw them up the ante defensively and if they can keep doing that, it’s going to be pretty tough to beat them when they’re going offensively. Defensively I think we executed and tried to keep the scout pretty simple.

“We did have a few little breakdowns, but overall I was very happy with what they did. Devondrick is always going to get his points, but I thought we did a good job on some of the other guys we needed to and I was pretty happy with the defence.

“In the end, our offence is still way too centred around Ducky and Rhys, and we need to find a third piece to that and hopefully Gav will get his mojo and Seva coming back will hopefully help. We just have to find that third and fourth scoring piece to help spread the load, it’s as simple as that.”

One great positive from the game on Saturday night once again was Kiwi Bensemann who is in his first season in the NBL1 having made the move to live in Perth.

He ended up playing almost 16 minutes for his 10 points with 3/6 three-point shooting and while Clayden never doubted the scoring he could pride, he also liked his leadership and defence.

“He had that really good game a couple of weeks ago in Bunbury and then I didn’t really play him the week after that because I just felt I wanted to try some different rotations, and different line-ups,” Clayden said.

“But again he came out and did what he did against Rocko and we know what he’s capable of. He’s a really smart guys and you talk about that basketball IQ which he is, but he’s also just a great teammate.

“He leads, he talks and does all the things that we want guys to do and he’s always ready to come off the bench. He just stepped up and he was ready to go, and we saw a role there for him and he stepped up and delivered.

“He did make some shots, but it was what he did with our defensive rotations a few times where he made sure we got it right which I found the most impressive.”

Major Partner - Dentistry Plus