Kalamunda Eastern Suns burn the Geraldton Buccaneers at home
Kalamunda Eastern Suns coach Mark Utley got one over his old boss when his ninth-placed side upset then-ladder leaders the Geraldton Buccaneers on their own court on Saturday night.
Dayle Joseph’s Buccs slipped to third place on the table following the shock 73-66 result — the spirited win by the visitors being the Buccs’ first home loss of the 2019 campaign.
The Buccs entered the game unbeaten at home since last season’s disappointing play-off loss to the Rockingham Flames on August 11.
Utley spent time in Geraldton and was once coached by Joseph.
“We’re friends, and he got one over me. But I and the team will learn from our mistakes and that loss,” Joseph said.
“We’ve got a semi-professional team, but we expect the fellas to rock up as professionals, know the opposition and what’s going on.
“It just shows we can be beaten at home.”
On Saturday night, the Buccs struggled early offensively, landing only three of their first 17 shots.
The visitors rode their luck and bolted out to a 22-16 lead at quarter-time, with quality trio Joshua Braun (21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists), Ryan Blanchett (nine points, 12 rebounds, zero assists) and Logan Viskovich (12 points, one rebound) solid contributors.
Viskovich’s stamp on the game was particularly telling — and despite playing 12 minutes, was a flawless 6/6 from the field.
Needing a spark in the second quarter, the home side were held to a miserly seven points, with the Eastern Suns building on their already imposing dominance to give Joseph’s men a mountain to climb in the second half.
Down 39-23 at the half, the Buccs worked their socks off to fight their way back into the game and trailed by a point on the three-quarter-time buzzer as classy point guard Marcus Alipate drained a clutch shot from downtown.
However, Utley’s men were not to be denied an impressive road victory, with Braun drilling a three-point shot with a minute and change left in the game to give his side the buffer they needed.
Joseph said Willie Conner — who has missed the past two matches through injury — is likely to return for Saturday’s home clash with the Hawks.
“He trained last Thursday and was close, but our medical team opted not to push it. We’ve got a bigger picture in mind,” Joseph said.
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