Croc­o­diles get chance to set record straight

Townsville Bulletin - - Basketball - By ANTONY STE­WART

THE Townsville Croc­o­diles face their sec­ond ma­jor Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League cham­pi­onship cred­i­bil­ity test in eight days when they take on Melbourne at The Swamp to­mor­row tonight.

Af­ter surg­ing up the lad­der on the back of a six-game win­ning streak, the Crocs came crash­ing back to earth just prior to Christ­mas when they were smashed 137-97 by com­pe­ti­tion lead­ers and favourites for the crown, Bris­bane, last round.

How­ever the North Queens­land team did not record the equal fifth long­est win­ning se­quence in the club’s his­tory be­cause they were lucky and will be keen to prove they are a bet­ter side than the one that went down to the Bul­lets when they come up against the Tigers, the reign­ing NBL cham­pi­ons.

Townsville re­ceived a ma­jor boost to their chances dur­ing the week when star im­port Larry Ab­ney re­turned from the US af­ter miss­ing three matches fol­low­ing the death of his grand­mother and hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion of his mother.

With sec­ond-placed Melbourne pos­sess­ing one of the tallest and most tal­ented front courts in the NBL, the 203cm power for­ward’s pres­ence along­side Greg Van­der­jagt, Andrew Rice and Daniel Egan could prove cru­cial to the Croc­o­diles’ chances.

Ab­ney leads the side in re­bound­ing at 10.4 boards per match and is among the league’s lead­ing scor­ers, av­er­ag­ing 21.2 points a game.

The match is also a chance for the Crocs to keep their in­ter-sea­son se­ries with the Tigers alive af­ter the Vic­to­rian team proved too good in their last meet­ing in Oc­to­ber.

Ver­sa­tile guard Brad New­ley gave a hint of his cur­rent spec­tac­u­lar form when he led all scor­ers with 30 points that night, but Melbourne were too strong on their home court, run­ning away with a 98-83 vic­tory.

The win also marked the Tigers’ fourth con­sec­u­tive tri­umph over Townsville, a streak that started af­ter Andrew Gaze played his fi­nal match in the NBL in an elim­i­na­tion play­offs game dur­ing the 2004/05 sea­son.

But with the Croc­o­diles boast­ing an im­pres­sive 9-1 win-loss record at home this year and Melbourne com­ing off the first match of the ‘Sun­shine Swing’ against Cairns last night, the Crocs will fancy their chances of end­ing the vis­i­tors’ streak.

A sea­son-high crowd is ex­pected to be on hand at The Swamp for the en­counter, how­ever ap­prox­i­mately 500 tick­ets are still avail­able.

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