HAWKS sharpshooter Todd Blanchfield’s last trip to Cairns turned out to be one of those nights.
Athletes call it being in the zone and it’s certainly where Blanchfield was at Cairns Convention in round two, dropping a career-high 32 points.
It came at a more than handy 61 per cent from the field, including 7-12 from three-point range, and stamped the 27-year-old as an elite scorer in the NBL.
He shapes as the man most likely to prolong the struggling Taipans’ pain this week, but the Mackay product said he’s not feeling complacent as he prepares to head north.
“I think back to that game and it was one of those nights where you feel like the hoop was a hoola hoop and you’re shooting at something a bit bigger,” Blanchfield said.
“It was a good night for us and we were able to get the win last time we were up there but it’s a very hard place to play. I played in a lot of reptile rumbles up there when I was with Townsville and it’s a very hard place to win.
“I know they’re in a little bit of a funk at the moment but everyone has ups and downs through the year. They’re just having there’s early.
“They’ve got a lot of talent on that team and you can’t underestimate them whatsoever. I was chatting to Nat [Jawai] over the week in Boomers camp, they’ve been very unlucky.
“They’re record doesn’t resemble the way they’ve been playing. They’re a very good basketball team and we’ve got our hands full this weekend.”
In a perhaps more ominous sign for the Snakes, Blanchfield will head into the match boosted by his role in booking the Boomers’ ticket to next year’s World Cup in China.
“Any chance you get to put the green and gold on is pretty special, especially to be part of the group that qualified for the World Cup,” he said.
“I tried to take a lot of confidence into that. I thought with that win we had over Adelaide, as a group, we need to take a lot of confidence out of it.
“It wouldn’t have been ideal coming off a loss into an eight-day break and dwelling on it. I know personally I took a lot of confidence out of it going into that break.”
“It’s a really good group of guys. We play against each other week in week out but any time we come together for that week we’re able to put it together and it’s a lot of fun.
“It’s a higher level of basketball as well so you train at that high level for a week you can understand why everyone comes out of it on a high and better.”
Blanchfield could well feature again in the final round of qualifying in February next year in Iran and Kazakhstan, a window that coincides with the NBL finals.
It could test the depth of the squad, and the sanity of coach Andrej Lemanis as he looks to juggle the logistical nightmare, but Blanchfield said the Boomers culture is built on a full squad mentality.
“Andrej talks about it a lot,” he said.
“Some guys are injured, some need rest so there’s always people coming in and out of the squad, but everyone’s there for the same reason.
“The World Cup’s a big thing coming up and to say I was a part of that group and contribute to it is pretty cool.
“I’ll continue to contribute any way that I can.”