Crocs come through in the clutch
Blalock the hero as late basket sinks Perth and seals play- off spot
That’s the only word Will Blalock could find to describe the thrilling one-point wi n o v e r P e r t h a t T h e Swamp last night that sealed the Crocodiles’ place in the NBL play-offs.
In the final 1 minute 27 seconds the American point guard went from villain to hero in the 72-71 triumph, having first squandered a crucial possession only to drain the winning points.
It was a stirring display t hat evoked what Crocs c o a c h T r e v o r G l e e s o n labelled the loudest noise to ever come out of the Townsville Entertainment Centre.
Atonement in such dramatic circumstances, and with the win putting the reptiles back into second place on the ladder ahead of Perth, was a beautiful thing for Blalock.
‘‘ It was breathtaking man,’’ Blalock said.
‘‘ It was an amazing effort by the players, coaches and the crowd. We just got a huge lift from the crowd in the second half and we rose with it.’’
It was enough to inspire Blalock to put a potentially season-crippling turnover behind him and take responsibility of the game on his shoulder with his next possession.
‘‘ I threw about five of them away today, but at crunch time it hurts even more be-
‘‘ So I took it upon myself to g o . ’ ’ B l a l o c k a n d P e t e r Crawford combined from the get-go to set a scorching tempo which would define the game.
Crawford laid the foundations for the win with 11 of his game-high 17 points in the opening period.
Perth’s Brad Robbins was at his pesky best in the opening term, arresting the visitors’ early troubles with his relentless pressure on the ball, coming up with two of his side’s four steals in the first stanza.
While Townsville were being forced into 11 first-half turnovers and their main weapon, Luke Schenscher, was restricted to six points from the charity stripe, the Crocs took Perth on with more assurance than they have all season. In the third period, however, f ormer C r o c C a m T o v e y t o o k centrestage, hitting 10 of 15 points to manhandle momentum back for the visitors.