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Round 5 Cougars Wrap – Women

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Cockburn Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites is taking the positives from the first loss of the NBL1 West season for the reigning champions on Saturday and the debut of Daniel Raber was without doubt the biggest of those.

The Cougars women had won the opening four games of the season to start their championship defence ahead of facing the also undefeated Rockingham Flames at Mike Barnett Sports Complex on Saturday evening.

The end result was a 79-75 victory for the Flames to hand the Cougars their first loss since July 8 last year, but there were still plenty of positives from a Cockburn perspective.

Thwaites didn’t necessarily think that was the case in the first half with Rockingham opening up a 15-point lead during the first half on the back of a 12-0 scoring run and then still being on top 47-32 at the half-time break.

However, the Cougars got themselves back into the contest in the second half and made a real game of it that ended up in a tight finish before the Flames ended up holding on for the four-point victory.

Cockburn were again shy of being at full strength in the absence of front court pair Jessie Edwards and Maria Blazejewski, but Israeli centre Daniel Raber was in for the first time and was mightily impressive.

She finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks while Alex Ciabattoni added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists, Steph Gorman 14 points, three boards, three steals and two assists, and Jewel Williams 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Amelia Corasaniti also had nine points and four rebounds, Jaya Scafidi three points and two boards, and Regan Turnour-McCarty two points and five rebounds.

Looking back on the game now, Thwaites is taking an optimistic view of finding some positives and also knowing he wouldn’t expect the Cougars to be able to play as badly as that in the first half again.

“The eternal optimist says that the first half is the worst basketball we can probably play for the year so on that basis, it’s still OK,” Thwaites said.

“We were pretty disappointed with our defence for a large chunk of the game and that’s something that we really pride ourselves on. We pride ourselves on being the team to beat defensively and we really let ourselves down there with some uncharacteristic performances across the board.

“That was disappointing but the second half was much more our style and a little bit more cohesive but it was always going to be a little challenging getting Dani integrated fully. And as great as she was, it was always a challenge to get some rhythm inside our structure and the same with Chibba.

“She’s only had four training sessions with us so it was always going to be difficult, but overall there’s plenty to learn from losses like that and that’s exactly how we’ll approach it.”

Raber played every second of the game in her first appearance in the NBL1 for the Cougars on Saturday as well.

Thwaites couldn’t have been more impressed with what she delivered and is excited by what she will bring for the rest of the season now.

“She is tough and she is going to be very, very good in this league,” Thwaites said.

“When we get some rhythm with her on the floor at the same time as Jessie Edwards or Maria Blazejewski, it’s going to be really difficult for other teams to cover.

“She just is an absolute hard worker in every way possible – rebounding, defensively she can guard threes and fours, and we look so much better with her on the floor.

“I probably should have given her a rest but we just really enjoyed having her out there. She just suits the way we want to play so beautifully and she’s a great human too.”

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