United Crocs stand
Will to fight together takes Townsville to a new level
THE Townsville Crocodiles proved that together, they can do anything.
New Zealand machine-gunned the hosts at The Swamp in the first term, shooting at 93 per cent from the field to open a commanding 12-point lead.
Stubborn persistence and unity, however, saw the Crocs wrestle the contest back by halftime before powering to a 100-92 victory over the NBL minor premiers.
It was only a week ago that coach Trevor Gleeson lamented his side lacked the strength to overpower the Breakers. There was no questioning the dynamite punch with which they floored the runaway competition leaders on Saturday.
‘‘ We redeemed ourselves with the intensity level,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘ To come back against the
top team, when 15 down, you have to dig real hard to do that and I was pleased that we didn’t do it indiv i d u a l l y . We g e l l e d t o g e t h e r stronger as a unit and clawed our way back in.’’
It took the composure of veteran guard Nathan Crosswell and early foul trouble to Breakers duo Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger to unsettle the visitors. Crosswell kept the Crocs within touching distance from the charity stripe in the first half, hitting eight-of-eight on the way to a 15-point haul.
Gleeson went to great lengths to wake the Crocs from their slumber, finally finding a spark by going small with both point guards, Crosswell and Blalock, on the floor.
‘‘ Will got it going and Crossie was real aggressive. He was taking the ball to the rack and that was one of our points of emphasis before the game, to take the ball strong and Crossie did a good job of that,’’ Gleeson said.
Sharing control of the game with Blalock is something Crosswell is not used to, but he grinned as he spoke about the possibilities after the tactic’s instant success.
But Crosswell denied it was about to change his role off the bench.
‘‘ It was a flat start and I just felt if I could come on and try and create a bit of energy and bit of momentum and get guys excited about playing . . . I felt I did that,’’ he said.
With the margin back to two at the ma i n b r e a k , G l e e s o n s i mp l y pleaded for patience and diligence in defence as the Breakers’ almost faultless offence strayed. After their scintillating display in the opening period, New Zealand shot at 40 percent for the remainder.
‘‘ At halftime we thought, ‘ they have to start missing soon’, but we weren’t challenging those shots, they were getting pretty clean looks,’’ Gleeson said.
Soon it was New Zealand coach Andrej Lemanis complaining of complacency, after Mick Cedar and Brad Williamson gave the Crocs a jolt from beyond the arc in the second term.