Sharp-shooting utility to fire for Rockets again in 2018
BASKETBALL: Jack Lopez will suit up for the McDonald's Rockhampton Rockets again in the 2018 QBL season.
The sharp-shooting utility had an instant impact for the Rockets in 2017 when he arrived mid-season off the back of a successful College career with the Montana Grizzlies.
He quickly established himself as one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the league, scoring at 46 per cent from beyond the arc before an ankle injury impacted his play in the latter half of the year.
Rockets coach Neal Tweedy said the way Lopez carried himself through the injury was one reason he was such a priority signing.
"Most people wouldn't be aware of what Jack did for us last season,” Tweedy said.
"He was in a moon boot during the week, and then pushing through pain during games just to get us into the finals.”
Lopez said this was one reason he was so keen to return to Rockhampton, despite strong interest from other clubs.
"Towards the end of the year my preparation each week was impacted by the injury,” he said.
"I was just trying to get through the week.
"I was essentially playing on one leg, and my game suffered.
"I'm excited to come back and show the fans that I'm better than I was last year.”
Lopez was now fully fit and never hungrier for success, training four times a week with the Sydney Kings, on top of individual workouts with his brother who is the director of coaching at Bankstown.
"Right now it's just about getting more consistent with my shot, and further developing my ball-handling and finishing skills so that I have another aspect to my game,” he said.
Lopez brings further flexibility to the Rockets' roster with size and a skill set that allows him to play anywhere from the two to four positions.
Tweedy described Lopez as a "really intelligent basketballer” which allowed him to easily move between different positions.
With three signings now complete, there is a growing enthusiasm in the Rockets' program about what's possible in 2018.
The Rockets finished last season as strong as any other team, and with a core part of the program confirming their return and the addition of league leading scorer Ray Willis, hopes will be high for another successful campaign.