Crocs won’t be faking it
IT’S a principle sacred to Russell Hinder and one he defends with all his might.
So when he heard rumours that Townsville intended to sabotage tomorrow night’s ‘‘ Reptile Rumble’’ with Cairns, the Crocodiles skipper took it to heart.
‘‘ You don’t become a player in the NBL and you don’t become a player for the Townsville Crocodiles – and I’ll put my life on this – unless every time you step on court you are ready to win that basketball game,’’ Hinder said. ‘‘ If you want to start compromising the ethics of basketball, then you won’t have a job here and pretty soon you won’t have a job in the NBL.’’
Even if it was the Taipans’ suggestion that the Crocs would prefer to meet their northern neighbours in the first week of the finals, the idea was summarily dismissed by the Crocs’ camp.
A loss to the Taipans in the last regular-season round would set up a tantalising semi-final series between the arch rivals, while victory would force them into an exhausting showdown with defending champions Perth.
For Hinder, it’s not a question of who they play but the mindset they take into the post-season.
‘‘ It would be a very, very slippery slope if you started having those thoughts and went down that road,’’ Hinder said.
‘‘ If we don’t win it, then who has all the momentum and confidence going in?’’
Shooting guard Michael Cedar knows there is only one answer.
‘‘ You don’t want to lose a game going into a semi-final series because you don’t want the other team coming in with a bit of confidence,’’ Cedar said.
Just to complicate things, the finals road has already been mapped out by NBL officials, with two possible scenarios for the Crocs. And it’s clear that nothing will come easy, starting at home tomorrow week.
If it’s the Taipans that Townsville are squaring off against, they will have to back up for the return fixture 24 hours later.
If it’s Perth, they will have until Sunday before they back up in the West Australian capital. But there is 13 hours of travel to factor into that.
Hinder is a realist, and he sees the good and bad in both outcomes.
When pressed, the 31-year-old didn’t talk of what road venue would be hardest to conquer, rather which side would pose more problems at The Swamp where the Crocs hold a 13-1 win-loss record for the season.
‘‘ Up here in Townsville and Cairns both crowds travel really well between venues so homecourt advantage would be nullified a little,’’ Hinder said.