Un­wanted Tiger heads home to wreak vengeance

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - by Andrew Aloia andrew. aloia@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

HE’S the dis­carded cham­pion who is re­turn­ing home to haunt the Mel­bourne Tigers.

For the first time since be­ing shown the door at the end of last sea­son, Townsville Croc­o­diles point guard Nathan Cross­well heads back to the site of his fond­est bas­ket­ball mem­o­ries – The Cage.

Tonight, how­ever, is a bit­ter­sweet flashback for the 31-year-old af­ter the Tigers lost faith with an age­ing star who only two years ear­lier led them to an NBL ti­tle. It’s a de­ci­sion that Cross­well has made them re­gret, as the ex­pe­ri­enced guard con­tin­ues to thrive with the Crocs at the same time that Mel­bourne have fallen on hard times.

Now he’s in­tent on hit­ting them where it hurts most, with a whitewash of vic­to­ries against his for­mer em­ploy­ers where he spent half of his 12-year ca­reer.

‘‘ I re­ally wanted to fin­ish my c a r e e r i n M e l b o u r n e a n d I couldn’t,’’ Cross­well said.

‘‘ I had a few un­for­tu­nate in­juries last year that prob­a­bly didn’t help my case, but I’ve been given a life­line up here and if we can beat them three times out of three then I walk out of there on Satur­day night grin­ning like a Cheshire cat.’’

E v e n t h o u g h h e ’ s a l r e a d y com­forted by the two com­pre­hen­sive beat­ings of Mel­bourne to date, Cross­well re­gards this trip to the Vic­to­rian cap­i­tal as the most emo­tional re­union.

‘‘ It’s go­ing to be strange walk­ing on to the floor wear­ing an­other colour than red,’’ he said.

‘‘ This is where I started play­ing when I was 18, I spent a lot of years in Mel­bourne be­fore go­ing back to the club for four years and win­ning a cham­pi­onship.’’

It might be at the point of the sea­son when the clash could be shrugged off as a ‘‘ gimme’’ be­tween a Crocs side warm­ing up to fight for the ti­tle and a Mel­bourne out­fit lan­guish­ing in sev­enth place, but Cross­well knows bet­ter.

‘‘ They can’t play for fi­nals but they are play­ing for jobs right now,’’ he said. ‘‘ There is no man more dan­ger­ous than one who is play­ing for his liveli­hood, for his kids, for his fam­ily.’’

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