Abney back in town and ready to rumble
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