Mitch Philp played his first game for the McDonalds Rockhampton Rockets in 2008. It was a year that produced not only a State Championship, but also a National Championship. Although the fresh faced 18 year old was fairly ‘Green’ in his opening season, the apprenticeship he served under team leaders Darren Richardson, Ben Thompson, and Stephen Weigh would help lay a foundation that would see the ambitious youngster captain the Rockets as part of their back to back run in 2013 and 2014.
After 9 seasons, unfortunately the popular point guard won’t be back to lead the McDonalds Rockhampton Rockets in 2017 with Philp accepting a career promotion that will see him relocate to Brisbane. It was not an easy decision for the charismatic Philp, who has played an instrumental part in shaping the Rockets success over the past nine years, including winning four championships and multiple individual accolades from QBL All-Star 5, to finals MVP, to competition steals and assists leader.
Coach Neal Tweedy was full of praise for Philp and what he’s achieved. “He’s probably one of, if not the most successful Rockets of all time, participating in 7 QBL grand finals over the last nine seasons”. Tweedy went on to suggest, “over the years there have been a number of talented local players who have come into the Rockets program, but Mitch has stood out as someone who was driven and committed to do the work required to play at this level. That in itself is a rare trait”.
Philp puts this down to his connection to the team and the program. His father Marcus was the cameraman for the Rockets in the late 90’s, which gave young Philp the opportunity to be around the team. “It was definitely an aspiration from a young age for me” says Philp. “I started playing the sport when I was 10 years old, and even at that early age I had my sights set on playing for the Rockets”.
When Philp reflects back over the last 9 years there are a number of moments which stand out. “The first championship in ‘08, and winning the National title was really special, but I think the back to back run in ’13 and ’14 would have to be the highlight. That was just a fun time to be a part of the Rockets”. In that sense it’s not surprising what Philp will miss most? “Team-mates. Definitely the team-mates”.
“It was not an easy decision. Basketball has been my first priority for a long time. The sport has been great to me. It’s taken me to the USA. It’s taken me to the NBL. Playing in front of the vocal Hegvold stadium crowd is something that will always be incredibly special, but I’ve got a great opportunity with my career that I just can’t say no too” Philp explained.
Whilst Philp is open to the possibility of playing in Brisbane, he is yet to lock anything away. “I’d love to keep on playing. I felt like last season was one of my best yet, and I still very much love the game. I’ll just wait and see”.
With Philp unavailable for the 2017 season, it opens up opportunities for some other players to step up, with Jarrod Blanchard, and twins Damon and Leon Christensen touted as players who might be ready to make the jump. “There are always challenges when you lose experienced players, but the flip side of that is it provides opportunities” said Tweedy. “A lot of our younger guards are exactly where Mitch was nine years ago. It’s now up to them to do the work, and give themselves every opportunity to have a similar impact on our program”.