Ab­ney back in town and ready to rum­ble

Townsville Bulletin - - Basketball - By ANTONY STE­WART

TREVOR Glee­son was more than pleased with the way his play­ers stepped up in the ab­sence of Larry Ab­ney, but the Croc­o­diles coach was still ec­static to see his star im­port back on the prac­tice court yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

Af­ter spend­ing a lit­tle over two weeks in the US with his fam­ily fol­low­ing the death of his grand­mother and hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion of his se­ri­ously ill mother, Ab­ney re­turned to Aus­tralia yes­ter­day and got straight back into ac­tion.

Far from want­ing to take time out to get over any jet lag he might be suf­fer­ing, the 29-year-old phoned Glee­son im­me­di­ately af­ter touch­ing down in Bris­bane to find out if he would be back in time to train with the team.

He even re­quested an in­di­vid­ual prac­tice ses­sion in prepa­ra­tion for Townsville’s round 15 Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League show­down with West Syd­ney in Ter­ri­gal to­mor­row night.

De­spite Ab­ney lead­ing the team in scor­ing and re­bound­ing prior to his de­par­ture, the Crocs fared well in his ab­sence, post­ing strong wins over Cairns and New Zealand be­fore be­ing com­pre­hen­sively out­played by league lead­ers Bris­bane last Satur­day.

How­ever Glee­son said the 203cm power for­ward, who has av­er­aged 22.6 points and 1 0 . 4 re­bounds i n 2006/07, would be a wel­come ad­di­tion to the Croc­o­diles’ line-up this week­end.

‘‘If you told me ear­lier in the sea­son that we would win two of three games while Larry was away, I would have said ‘I’ll take it’,’’ he said.

‘‘The guys have stepped up while he has been away and done a great job, but to have his work ethic back in the side will be great.

‘‘He’ll give us a boost with his pres­ence back in the side and the guys were look­ing for­ward to see­ing him.’’

Townsville clash with the last-placed Ra­zor­backs to­mor­row be­fore meet­ing Melbourne on New Year’s Eve at The Swamp.

With the Crocs sit­ting on the cusp of the NBL’s top four with a 12-9 win-loss re- cord, this week­end has the po­ten­tial to shape their play­offs fu­ture.

While Ab­ney’s prepa­ra­tion for the dou­ble is cer­tain to be hin­dered, Glee­son said he was confi- dent the NBL All-Star would be fir­ing on all cylin­ders come game time.

‘‘He did that last time and he just jumped straight back into it,’’ Glee­son said, re­fer­ring to Ab­ney’s re­turn from the USa­head of pre­sea­son train­ing ear­lier this year. ‘‘I guess the main thing is just get­ting the ball into his hands and get­ting a few shots up, that’s the most im­por­tant thing.

‘‘And with his work ethic and how he plays, I’m sure it won’t take long be­fore he is back into the swing of things.’’

The Crocs fly to Syd­ney this morn­ing.

BOMB THROWER . . . Larry Ab­ney is jump­ing out of his skin to re­sume play­ing with the Crocs af­ter his

re­cent jour­ney to the US and back due to fam­ily com­mit­ments

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