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.
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