vir non camelus est.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Round 15

There are few greater rivalries in sport than that between the Black Fish and the tragic detritus of post-modern suburbia that is the DA Boyz. So oppressive was the pre-game tension that the innumerate gaggle of dyskinetic limbs that represented the Boyz could barely bring itself to walk onto the pine until some five minutes of the first half had elapsed. And who could blame them? Five demi-urgic pillars of rippling black-clad masculinity stood at the centre circle, emanating atavistic menace. If it weren't for the Bronx cheers of the capacity crowd, they would surely have scurried from the stadium.

And so it was that the Five Fit Fish - Whittle, Edwards, Noutz, Rodgers and Vasilunas - began their destruction of the hapless Boyz. From the moment the thunderous tap from Rodgers sizzled to the sure hands of a team-mate for a quality fast break, the fate of the Boyz was sealed.

Mere words do no justice to the nature of the merciless annihilation wrought by the Mighty Black Fish. Flawless in every aspect of the game, it was as though the very nature of this beautiful game was wrapped around the DNA of each member of the Fish, a metaphysical connection linking these five fine men and Sport itself. Fortunately words are not required on this occasion. Super-wife Ly captured the essence of the contest on low-quality digital video, a montage of which will be published on this very site within the next few days. Suffice to say, there are a few easy lay-ups on the video.

And what of the five greats who fashioned this mighty victory?

Vasilunas: All spirit, he never stopped running despite having to use a boggy cytokine-ridden mess in place of his ankle.

Rodgers: Was not beaten for a single rebound all night. As always, the rock upon which the Black Fish temple is built.

Noutz: Dynamic, aggressive, possibly a little frightening, he again demonstrated his mastery of the fine line between vigorous basketball and actually killing a couple of little blokes. Again contributed on the scoreboard. Left one or two fingers in the net at the Eastern end.

Edwards: The vital link player in the many end-to-end transition plays that characterised the victory. Continues to tap a rich vein of form at the low post. Avoided any chance of Bronx cheers.

Whittle: Shamelessly helped himself to a lazy 35 points.

And so, at the end of a breathtaking all-court display, the scoreboard declared the Fish winners 61-26.

On a confidence-building three-game streak, the Black Fish now turn their attention to a Round 16 clash with traditional rivals Air Supreme as they focus on consolidating a top-four position, and adding a few more plays to the ever-expanding highlight reel.

Stay tuned as we launch the first of our Warner Wolf-style video packages later this week.

Updated Fixture List

June 29: Black Fish v Air Supreme 10:30pm*

July 6: Black Fish v Aussie Bruddhas 10:30pm*

July 13: Black Fish v The Fakers 9:00pm*

July 20: Black Fish v Homebrand 6:00pm*

July 27: Black Fish v Spectrum 9:00pm*

August 3: Black Fish v East All-Stars 9:00pm*

August 10: Black Fish v DA Boyz 7:30pm*

August 17: Black Fish v Air Supreme 7:30pm*

August 24: Black Fish v Aussie Bruddhas 9:45pm*

August 31: Black Fish v The Fakers 9:00pm*

September 7: Semi-Final

September 14: Grand Final

* denotes Rivalry Round

Friday, June 16, 2006

News Flash

Players and fans are advised that the bye scheduled for June 22 has been replaced with an 8:15pm game against league newcomers (and traditional rivals) the 'DA Boyz' (seriously), a team described by MARS Stadium management as 'very much an E-grade side'.

Don't miss it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Round 14

It was deep into Winter season 2006 and the Fish had their backs to the wall. Sitting uncomfortably outside the top four, ravaged by soft-tissue injury, and facing the prospect of a first-ever clash with traditional rivals Homebrand, a side holding down a solid second spot and in possession of a towering percentage. Lesser teams may have folded.

But not the Black Fish.

Seven fine men strode onto hoodoo Court 3 in trying sub-zero conditions. One fine man (your Round 13 correspondent) kept on striding, taking his 'bag-o-chips' thorax all the way to the scorers' bench.

The Fish signalled their intent from the outset. Weeks, R, in his highly-anticipated return from McLeodesque injury, brought a noticeable zip to the backcourt and was a constant offensive threat with his trick-bag of novelty shots from downtown.

In perhaps the most complete display by the Fish in 2006, each man played his role to perfection. Weeks and Whittle controlled the perimeter, Rodgers dominated the boards at both ends, Vasilunas provided constant offensive potency (and is the clear leader in one-percenters), Noutz (looking resplendent) scared the living Bejesus out of any opponent in his trajectory, and Nissen overcame a debilitating thoracic injury to make a solid contribution without resorting to having a Nancy-boy first-aid kit on the bench.

In an almost flawless display, the Black Fish dominated the first half. The slick passes, hard-running, and commitment to team-mates provided constant joy and inspiration to the solid crowd of Ly and Edwards, S. By the long break the Fish had established a handy 8 point lead, but knew that their highly-fancied opposition would fight back in the second half.

Much has been written about the Black Fish spirit. Intangible, but undoubtedly real, it exists at the core of this great club. Those of you fortunate enough to have met one or more of the players will need no explanation; one can feel it in the depths of one's humanity. Faced with a half-time option of taking a 10-point no-scorer penalty, and in the midst of the most pivotal game of the season, the Fish, as I know you all would have expected, turned down the offer and chose to face their destiny unaided. As true men.

When Homobrand closed the gap to 2 points within minutes of the start of the second half, one could be excused for pondering the wisdom of such a decision. But this is no ordinary team. In a game of a standard described as 'much better than E-grade' by the referees in a seemingly private half-time discussion, the Black Fish knew they had to lift.

And lift they did. In a stunning burst of sustained skill and intensity, the Fish broke open the game late in the second half. Sharp passes, strong work at the post, dominance in the air, a paucity of unforced errors, flawless foul-shooting, spectacular fast-breaks (and one audacious sky-hook) left their opponents gasping.

That's Black Fish spirit.

With minutes remaining and a tenacious Homobrand using their trusted 'ineffective drive into the key' play at every opportunity, a lesser team may have opted for a time-out. But not the Black Fish. Even the plaintive cries of 'Tempo Basketball' from Neil Edwards on the sideline were ignored as the Fish pressed on towards victory.

In the end, the scoreboard declared a stunning upset victory for the Black Fish 36-33. The Fish now go into the mid-season break brimming with confidence and with a strong chance of breaking back into the top four.

A massive crowd is sure to be present for the late game against traditional rivals Spectrum in two weeks.

Sweet Victory

(The complete photo set may be found here)

Round 13

A special treat for the regular readers out there: this week sees the match report filed by rookie reporter Sam Edwards. A true Black Fish effort, particularly the effort exerted in chasing the meaningless record of 'longest match report ever'. (A lazy 1083 words for those of you interested). It is a measure of the inverse variation of the BF match reporting to practice time that the mighty Fish teeter on the brink of missing the finals, but possess the finest website in all of cyberspace. Enjoy:

"Whilst seemingly inauspicious to the solitary spectator who (may have) witnessed the match, its Round 13 clash against traditional rivals the Aussie Bruddhas will long be remembered as a watershed moment in the history of the Black Fish. With their esteemed leader forced to seek treatment in a land far away for what one can only presume was a mystery bank-related injury, in addition to the plethora of well-documented injuries to our much-admired heroes, the Black Fish were down to only two fit men. Teetering on the cusp of the top four, this prestigious Club was facing the unspeakable possibility of forfeiting the 3 points to the undisputed minnows of the Marden E grade Thursday Night Men’s Open Basketball Competition. Such a shameful occurrence may have been enough to send The Club into a downward spiral of despair and drug-fuelled destruction from which they may have never recovered. But fortunately, due to an unprecedented show of commitment and courage, largely shown in the hours leading up to the game, we will never know. The irrepressible Black Fish spirit was to prevail once again.

The final minutes pre-game provided an unexpected rollercoaster of emotions and fortunes. With the realization that they would be able to assemble a team, however injury-riddled, the sense of relief amongst the Black Fish was palpable as they hobbled through their pre-game routine. This was heightened when the already less-than-formidable opposition outfit appeared to have only a starting four just moments before tip-off, and the thoughts of at least one Fish turned fleetingly to record scores. These were quickly interrupted by the announcement that the Fish were to give away a 14 point headstart, due to a lack of scorer and subtle uniform violation. Further perceived trouble for The Fish came with the arrival of the fifth, ironically-named “Aussie Bruddha”. It appeared that the Bruddha recruiting staff had either finally learnt the error of their ways or had themselves been replaced. Whilst they could be previously forgiven for being mistakenly briefed to recruit for a weekly pie-eating competition, their latest offering did indeed appear to be some sort of athlete, straight off the plane from his west-African homeland, complete with tribal singlet (or had he assumed from his team’s name they would all be wearing the canary yellow?). At least the uniform violation had been squared up. And so it appeared the ailing Fish had their work cut out for them.

It would soon become obvious that this was certainly not the case. The free-flowing Black Fish game quickly saw the erosion of the Bruddhas’ early, questionably-earned lead, and by half time the Fish were well and truly in the black. The second half saw the Fish extend their lead further, with what could be described only as a little ‘showtime’ action, resulting in their highest score for the season. It was only the Bruddhas’ full use of their seriously life-saving time-outs which prevented the Fish from reaching the holy grail 100 point barrier It was a gutsy and very even team performance, particularly from the Fish’s backbone group.

In a huge positive for The Club, the game saw a confident debut from former state baseballer Birt, R, who managed to put aside the guilt of leaving his young family in coming to the rescue of the Black Fish. The jury is still out as to where he had his greater influence – with his pre-game celebrex distribution amongst his team, or his on-court efforts – which is a true credit to his first performance in the hallowed black strip either way.

Rodgers, N continued his fine form with another pea-shelling scoring exhibition. With his customary nonchalance, he finished with a game-high 20+ points, and could have walked away with many more were it not for his unselfish play, or sheer boredom, I’m not sure which.

Vasilunas, T., arguably one of the more under-rated players in the competiton, put in another very solid performance, overcoming the adversity of the much publicised ever-increasing swelling of his appendage. He certainly stepped up to the plate in the absence of the silky ball-carrying skills of Whittle, S. and played a pivotal role as the game’s chief-play maker.

Big Noutz, C was cleverly used by the Fish coaching hierarchy in a secretive (even to fellow team members) impact role, bursting onto the court from the well-hidden bench shortly before half-time. The stunning move was vindicated not only by the victory itself, but in front of a global audience when Guus Hiddink ‘borrowed’ the masterstroke to defeat the Blue Samurai only days later. The Black Fish Administration are currently speaking to their lawyers. Noutz, C’s (and therefore Noutz, I’s) sacrifice in leaving his 2 year old daughter unattended for 2 hours at ‘day care’ was symbolic of the team’s commitment and spirit, and is to be highly commended.

But it was Nissen, M who put in the performance of the night, that was to defy his rapidly advancing years and Father Time himself. He complemented his flawless defensive game that the fans have come to expect, with the addition of a procession of two pointers from all parts of the key, to come away with an early birthday present in the form of the MVP. The only dampener was the apparent rib injury he sustained shortly before the final siren. One can only hope it was not as serious as that of his highly revered team-mate.

It was only moments before tip-off that Edwards, S bravely declared himself ‘fit’, having been under a massive injury cloud all week with a crippling rib injury so heinous as to be undetectable with traditional roentgenography,. However it seemed that he had used every ounce of his vast reserves of courage to physically make it onto the court, as he proceeded to set a record low for hard-ball-gets in Marden Men’s Basketball history. This statistic was rivaled only by his huge unforced skill-error count, causing multiple turnovers which led ultimately to a highly flattering scoreboard for the Bruddhas, which at the end of the 40 minutes read 57-27.

The result could see the Fish crash into the top four, and no doubt sent the Bruddhas straight back to the pie-shop. The Club now turn their attention to their Round 14 clash against the previously unseen traditional rival ‘Homebrand’. The classier and hopefully rejuvenated Black Fish outfit will no doubt be treating this as a mini-final, the result of which could go a long way in deciding the make up of the final four."

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Round 12

First, the positives: no new injuries.

Vasilunas, T exemplified the Black Fish spirit this round, hauling himself back out onto Court 1 for the twilight fixture against the East 'All-Stars' with his foot attached to the end of his leg by little more than a tenacious piece of skin in order to make up a total of five Fish on the pine.

Edwards, S was also doing it tough, sufficiently damaged (or psychologically fragile) from last week's game to require a makeshift thoracocentesis kit at the courtside. To the deep disappointment of all of his team-mates no heroic chest-puncturing was required. Had it not been for the lack of depth at the club at present I have no doubt that one of us would have wielded the Bic late in the second half just for the comedy value.

And so it was that an injury-ravaged quintet of pure masculine energy strode onto Court 1 against a motley collection of freaks that was intent on keeping the Monchhichi firmly on the Fish's back.

An entertaining (and unusually high-scoring) first half saw the Fish play to their strengths: an impenetrable zone and a free-wheeling approach to offense kept the Fish level with their enormous-singleted opponents at half-time.

The second half remained entertaining (but not for the Fish). As the complete phenotype:skill mismatch of their African cousin became apparent, the Monchhichis abandoned their initial game-plan and embarked on an ambitious (but ultimately fruitful) full court press. In the chaos that ensued, Whittle played above himself for a glittering 30 seconds before playing well below himself for the remaining 19 minutes and 30 seconds. Without the silky back-court stylings of Rodgers (A) and Weeks, the valiant Fish were harried into a number of uncharacteristic ball-handling errors. Unfortunately the 'All-Stars', having honed their skills lobbing coconuts in their native forest, took full advantage by nailing a succession of lucky outside shots.

Not even their scoreboard advantage, however, could excuse the ridiculous free-throw line boot-scooting of the Monchhichi's own 'Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane' import. One doesn't need to be a man of faith to recognise that the hand of God himself prevented both free throws from dropping.

In the end, the Fish could be considered the moral victors. The braver side. Undoubtedly the prettier side. The team for all South Australians, if you will. The scoreboard, however, described a heart-breaking loss, 27-43.

Stay tuned next week for a mystery guest columnist to guide you through all the highs and lows of the return clash with traditional rivals, the variably chromosomed Aussie Bruddhas.