A brave Black Fish outfit took to Court Three for the crucial Round 7 clash with traditional rivals East All-Stars - several team members were suffering from a cruel virus, and the squad was depleted by the absence of Rodgers, A (omitted). Crowd numbers, as always, were impressive, including the first appearance in season 2006 for the goodwives Nissen and Vasilunas.
There was a tinge of sadness in the night's events as it became apparent that this would be the last appearance in Winter '06 for Foundation player Suresh Rajapaksa. Our excitement at his acceptance of a playing contract in the NBA was tempered slightly when it was revealed that he will in fact be playing out the season in the WNBA. Nevertheless, we wish him the best in this exciting new chapter in his career.
As expected, the first half was a tense and skilful encounter. 'Chairman of the Boards' Rodgers (N) again led the way, but a tight full-court performance throughout the playing list ensured that the Fish took the honours in a tight first half. Some credit is due to the 'All-Stars' - it was revealed after the game that the All-Stars' playing singlets had accidently left their players in the wash too long and returned to find them shrunk to half their previous size.
The free-wheeling second half was both spectacular and frustrating. As the game opened up the scoring rate increased for both sides. The Fish, of course, were flawless, or would have been, if not for the pointless and infuriating monkey screeching of their pathetic opponents. It was eveident that despite the striking resemblance, the All-Stars side was not comprised of Monchhichis, since as we all recall 'Monchhichi mean happiness'.
Sadly, a desperate final few minutes by the Fish was not enough to see them avoid defeat 37-47.
The capacity crowd were unanimous, however, in awarding the Black Fish the moral victory. It was a cruel reality check for the Fish, whose recent rich vein of form had seen them clinb to second place on the ladder, however their strong percentage will see them retain a position in the top four.
On a lighter note, who could fail to be delighted by the apparently serious ankle injury suffered late in the game by one of the All-Stars (pictured here on his way to hospital). Had his writhing and grimacing not been so profoundly hilarious, the final scores may have been a little closer. Undoubtedly his loose-limbed sprawl at the end of the court will remain a fond memory for Fish players and fans for many years to come.
A bye next week means the Fish will have two weeks of intensive training (as is usual for them) before their return encounter with traditional rivals Spectrum (or at least those members of Spectrum who have not succumbed to vascular disease since Round 4). A massive crowd is again expected, so get your tickets early.