IMMIGRATION department red tape ground Warrnambool Seahawks import Sai’Quon Stone but not his teammates who started their Big V campaign with a confidence-boosting win on Saturday night.
The Seahawks notched a 72-64 win on the road against Craigieburn Eagles.
Stone’s Big V clearance and registration is complete and Basketball Australia is just waiting on the immigration department to give him the green light.
The club is confident the athletic guard will be free to debut against Melton this weekend.
Warrnambool stood tall against Craigieburn without its big name recruit.
The Seahawks built a six-point quarter-time lead and maintained that margin at half-time.
Their lead was cut to three points at the final change before a 21-16 final quarter sealed the win.
New Seahawks coach Bobby Cunningham praised his side’s fight and tenacity.
“The largest lead we had was 11 points and the largest lead they had was four points,” Cunningham said.
“Both teams found it tough to score early, that’s why the percentages are a bit low.
“We were a bit nervous and had jitters but once we broke the seal it was good.”
Emerging forward Liam Killey made his presence felt, dropping a team-high 15 points.
Guard Justin Wallace (13 points) and former coach Tim Gainey (10) also hit the scoreboard.
Cunningham rated Killey’s efforts in the paint but emphasised the need for the teenager to back it up next weekend.
“We didn’t want to bring out a big import, a six foot seven, six foot eight guy, to take that spot,” he said.
“We wanted to put some responsibility on Liam to be able to play 35 to 30 minutes a night and see how he goes.
“He sat behind Brandon Macklin last year and the year before he was finding his feet behind Cam Mitchell and now he’s a 17-year-old it is his turn to get pushed and shoved around the basket.
“We’ll let him enjoy the game for what it was — a good road trip win but that’s all it was.”
Cunningham said it was an even team performance.
Gainey negated Craigieburn top-scorer Blake Dickinson after half-time.
“His (Gainey’s) offensive game suffered a bit last night,” Cunningham said. “We put him on their best scorer and he took him out of the game.
“He was the highest scorer with 25 points but he had 20 to half-time and Tim wasn’t guarding him then.”
Portland teenager Joel Mirtschin clocked 13 minutes and scored four points in his first hit-out for the Seahawks, while development-listed player Sam Gray played 10 minutes in his Big V debut.
“Joel, as soon as he hit the floor, a three-point shot went up and splash, his confidence went up,” Cunningham said.
“He hustled on defence and dived on loose balls and got deflections.
“Sam had a bit of a nervous start and missed a wide open lay-up. Being a 16-year-old kid he was excited.
“He was in the game when it was a ball game.
“That helps the boys (develop) rather than waiting until we’re up by a fair bit to put them on.”
Cunningham said Stone’s leadership from the sidelines against Craigieburn was impressive and highlighted his team-first mindset.
“He was really upbeat. He was yelling and sometimes yelling over me he was that excited.”