Crocodiles get chance to set record straight
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.