An apprehensive hush fell over the capacity crowd at MARS Stadium tonight as the proud Black Fish took to the court for a crucial Round 4 clash with traditional rivals Spectrum. After a forfeit and two heartbreaking losses, the season was on the line for the sentimental favourites.
There can be no greater demonstration of the tense atmosphere during the opening stages of this clash than the scoreline towards the end of the first half: 2-2. This was a watershed moment. And the Fish knew it. It is the mark of a champion team to respond at such a moment - and respond this grand team did. At once the crushing 'mystery' zone defence shut down the Spectrum offence more effectively than their waist-hip ratios were narrowing their coronary vessels, resulting in a spectacular display of insanity by every member of their team who had not yet reached VO2max. To quote the referee: "That number 22 is a fucking nutcase. The crazy fucker."
A panicked time-out by Spectrum was not enough to halt the offensive march by a rejuvenated Fish outfit. Fast breaks, offensive boards, flawless free-throw shooting (OK, by Nick Rodgers only), and high-quality niggling were all on display as the Fish drew away from their malodorous foes.
The second half was simply a procession as the mighty mighty Black Fish stormed to their first win of the season, 26-14.
Not even the late start next week will keep the diehard fans from flocking to MARS to watch the Fish tackle traditional rivals Lobetrotters.