Herrera, Pirates anchoring fourth in QBL

It won’t be much longer until Alex Herrera returns to the states, bigger in and badder to the bone.

And that will come as a relief to most foes in the Queensland (Australia) Basketball League, as the former Ignacio Bobcat has proved one of the – and often the – most consistently dominant players on any of the loop’s courts, night in and night out.

Through round 14 of the 2014 season, Herrera and South West Metro held down the fourth rung in the QBL’s ladder with a 9-5 overall record, owning one less loss than both Brisbane and Ipswich (each 9-6).  But Rockhampton, at 13-2, and Mackay and Cairns (each 12-3) were well ahead of the Pirates, who most recently – as of the Drum’s deadline – managed a lopsided 118-79 home win Aug. 3 over last-place Toowoomba to gain some momentum into a road meeting at Mackay on the Friday, Aug. 8.

After the Meteors, SWM then heads to Rockhampton Saturday, Aug. 9, to close out a crucial round 15 against the league-leading Rockets and star Chehales Tapscott (30.3 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg).  Mackay’s attack has been much less reliant on one standout soloist; Australian NBL veteran Todd Blanchfield’s 18.8 ppg leads five players each averaging nearly 13 ppg.

One probable matchup in that contest will particularly be worth fans’ attention; Herrera will likely see battle against continental Shane Harris-Tunks (7.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 93.1 FT%) – the former University of Colorado big against whom he made his official Fort Lewis College regular-season debut back in 2011.

Sharing top billing with Tapscott won’t be any less exciting; in November 2013 the former Portland (Ore.) State University forward was taken by the Maine Red Claws – an affiliate of the Boston Celtics – in the NBA D-League Draft, cementing his potential after earning International Basketball League Rookie-of-the-Year [28.6 ppg, 12.7 rpg] honors in ’12 and its MVP [23.5, 14.9] award in ’13.

Having now seen action in all but one of SWM’s contests, Herrera exited the Toowoomba tilt averaging a beastly 22.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per outing, in addition to converting a steady 74 percent from the free throw line – where he has attempted 36 more charity tosses than his closest teammate.

In the blowout, Herrera netted 32 points – his third game this summer topping 30, and sixth exceeding 25 – on 11-of-14 accuracy (including 2-of-2 from three-point land) from the floor and 8-of-9 at the stripe.  He also pulled down 12 boards and swatted aside three shots – akin to his four rejections when South West Metro traveled to the Mountaineers’ Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre base on July 12, when/where he also registered 33 points and grabbed an awesome 22 caroms in a 110-83 romp.

It should be noted that South West Metro, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Herrera and FLC teammate Rasmus Bach (13 GP; 12.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), should be playoffs-bound in ’14 – an incredible ‘180’ for the club after it held down (finalized by a loss to, ironically, Toowoomba) the league’s basement a year ago with just one solitary victory.

The QBL season will end with best-of-three Finals the weekend of Aug. 29-31.

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