vir non camelus est.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Black Fish Go Global

BF00 leaves on a goodwill tour of Europe and Asia this week, aiming to spread the Black Fish message to a wider audience.

So look forward to a variety of guest correspondents over the next three rounds, and maybe some notes from the road.

After all, the whole world knows that vir non camelus est.

Round 19

There have been few games more important in the history of this magnificent club than the return stoush with traditional rivals (and BF bunnies) Homobrand.

The importance of the game is illustrated by the overdue return from the twos of starting centre Rodgers (N), and by the capacity crowd packing the creaking grandstands of Court 3, including newly-recruited scorer Rodgers (S) (pictured below), who is certain to be drafted by the Fish under the Father-Son rule in a few short years.

And Edwards, to the clear detriment of colons throughout our delightful southern suburbs, forsook his ailing clients to drive (no doubt erratically) at breakneck speed back to the safer streets north of the city in order to make it on court mid-way through the first half. Six Black Fish, for the first time in months.

And then, to top it all off, in strides the heroically injured favourite son Rodgers (A), in his first appearance courtside since the unforeseen Achilles-like season-ending injury of Round 9. Fortunately, unlike Achilles, Rodgers (A) has not spent his recovery time engaging in homo-erotic 'physiotherapy' with his attractive male cousin (as far as can be established).

So, to the game...

Terrified by the prospect of another loss to the might of the Black Fish, Homobrand finally eased their trembling limbs onto the court at about the five minute mark of the first half. As expected, the first stanza was a closely-fought affair. Inspired by the rare conjunction of three Rodgerses and the loud cries of "Go Goldfish" from the scorers' bench, the Fish held their own valiantly against a quality Homobrand line-up.

The second half, unfortunately, was a disappointment for the legion of Fish fans. Although they fought strongly to the end, the Black Fish were unable to maintain the full-court intensity required to hurt the minor premiership contenders. An outstanding game by Vasilunas, who dominates this week's highlights reel, was not enough to prevent a 28-43 loss.

With only six weeks to go until the finals, each game is now crucial in the race to make the top four. Faced with a crunch match in Round 20 against Spectrum, the Fish will turn to their secret weapon - Downing (K) - in a stunning selection ploy. This game is not to be missed, as it is certain to be a modern classic.

Round 18

Round 18 saw a depleted Fish line-up tackle perennial nemeses The Fakers on Court 2. Brimming with confidence after stringing together five consecutive wins for the first time this season, the mighty Black Fish were confident of an upset victory as the testosterone-riddled quintet of Whittle, Edwards, Nissen, Noutz and Vasilunas strode ferociously onto the pine.

The match started at a hectic pace as the defensive intensity of both sides ensured that this would be an epic arm-wrestle. The Fish maintained a fierce focus but struggled to cope effectively with The Fakers' cunning numerical mismatch strategy, particularly at the offensive end. It is perhaps a testament to the character inherent in this club that the boys dug deep to avoid the humiliation of a first-ever scoreless half, eventually securing their solitary bucket with fewer than 90 seconds on the clock.

Half-time was an opportunity to regroup. One could sense that all five players (and the magnificently ubiquitous Hoang and Caroline) were thinking to themselves 'what would Neil Craig do?'. And sure enough, the second half was all about process. The boys began to take care of the little things, and the big things - inevitably - took care of themselves.

By the ten-minute mark of the second half, the game was on the line. The Fish were back. The Fakers were rattled. The fans were delirious. The referees were shithouse.

A panicky time-out by the Fakers saw them to revert to their peculiar 4-on-5 formation in an attempt to negate the irresistible scoring potential of the glorious Black Fish. Eventually, however, The Fakers' negative brand of tempo basketball may have driven away the fans, but saw them secure a tight 13-20 victory over the Fish.

Basketball pundits cannot fail to be impressed by the character shown by the Fish in the second half, out-scoring their more fancied opponents despite the blatant negating tactics. One may rest assured that a potential finals clash between these two sides would be welcomed by an ever-improving Black Fish side that might just fancy its chances in a re-match.

But for now, the business of qualifying for the finals is becoming very serious indeed. Five evenly-matched teams are battling it out for the top four in what promises to be an epic conclusion to the minor round. Don't miss it!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Round 18 Highlights

The Round 18 report is still being crafted. In the meantime, watch the highlights.....

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Round 17

The late night Court 3 supermatch between the Mighty Black Fish and the Less-than-mighty Aussie Bruddhas attracted spectators from as far afield as France. Understandably, the entire population of France has recently switched their attention from the curious head-butting underperformance of Les Bleus to the far more skillful game of basketball, Marden-style.

And in a performance which sent shivers down the spine of the Australian spectators, the MARS referees managed to surpass Graham Poll in the atrocity of their performance. Unlike the Englishman, who retained the last fragments of his credibility by retiring immediately, the MARS crew remain to referee another day.

Unfortunately for Les Fleurys, the game was far from spectacular. Faced with an opposition replete with a cast of genetically-disadvantaged, Dora Maar-faced, dermatologically-nauseating, cortex-deficient freaks reminiscent of a Victorian-era travelling show, the Fish were - in a sense - in a no-win situation. In another, more accurate sense, the Fish were in a win situation.

And win they did. After a slow start, in which they were lulled into a false sense of absolute dominance, the Whittle-Edwards-Vasilunas-Nissen-Noutz highlight reel began. All five Fish produced a complete performance in both offense and defence, and all contributed on the scoreboard. Nissen, in particular, impressed the in-laws with some sweet Magic Johnson-style assists, with none of the rather less pleasant Magic Johnson-style CD4 deficiency.

Cruelly abandoned by their wives, the Black Fish scoring bench was again salvaged in fine style by the spectacularly committed Caroline, whose unflagging cheerleading will no doubt soon see her in the BF Cheer Squad Hall of Fame, if not actually taking to the court.

By late in the second half the game had degenerated from a circus freak show to simply a circus. In a measure of the complete dominance of the Fish, the referees simply gave up. Fortunately BF11, the imposing Noutz (C), adapted to the spirit of on-court anarchy in true BF style, crashing through a Bruddha less than half his size in a near lethal full-body collision. Sadly for all present, the clash resulted in no serious injuries.

In a percentage-boosting performance, the Black Fish eventually ran out winners 51-10, extending the winning streak to five games. The video highlights are so pathetically one-sided that none will be shown for this round.

Having successfully negotiated a potential danger game, this proud club turns its attention to a pivotal encounter with league leaders, perpetual nemeses, and traditional rivals the Fakers.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Round 16

Rumours began to fly around the MARS community as the Mighty Black Fish took to the pine for their crucial Round 16 clash with traditional rivals Air 'Supreme'. There had been weeks of speculation regarding the playing future of out-of-contract superstar 'Walls' Downing as it became increasingly apparent that he was eyeing a return to active competition. Many insiders were aware that he was close to some members of the Fish playing group but few would have guessed that he was on the verge of signing with the injury-ravaged league pacesetters until he strode into MARS stadium and took his place alongside the Black Fish cheersquad. Unfortunately for his legion of devoted supporters he did not don the playing togs on this occasion, choosing to provide his distinctive brand of vocal support, but one must surely anticipate his imminent appearance in the Black Fish side.

Buoyed, but not distracted, by the commotion courtside, this week's Five Fit Fish - Whittle, Edwards, Nissen, Noutz and Rodgers (N) - leapt out of the blocks against their jewellery-clad foes. Few could forget the spiteful nature of the previous clash between these two sides, but who could have predicted the fiery encounter which developed in the late-night cold of Court 1?

The result was never in doubt. Well-drilled, committed, sublimely skilled and devastatingly handsome, the Fish asserted their dominance on the scoreboard from the outset. The defensive effort in particular was a highlight, squeezing the life from the little 'Supremes'.

And then the game exploded into life.

Big Carl Noutz, in characteristic fashion, put his body on the line in a contest for a loose ball with 1989 French Open tennis champion Michael Chang, who surprised many by wearing his tennis outfit throughout the game. There was little surprise (but several chuckles) when Chang's semi-conscious body flew across the court, limbs comically flailing, as Noutz stood still as a statue. But there was plenty of surprise when Chang, no doubt filled with rage at his disappointing and under-achieving career after winning the French Open at the age of 17, leapt to his feet and began ranting maniacally about several improbable outcomes, including taking a swing at the amused Noutz, whose scone he would have required a step-ladder (and a boost from his buddies) in order to reach with one of his diminutive fists.

A technical foul and plenty of laughs followed, while Chang retreated to the bench, rummaging desperately in his bag for a racquet to smash. Many of those present thought that the violence was over. But 'Supreme's' resident DSM manual, 'Legs' 11, had other ideas...

Early in the second half, the quality niggling of Rodgers (N) finally broke his fragile psyche. Words really cannot capture what ensued over the next few minutes. Even a request from your correspondent for a brief first-hand description of events from those at the stadium elicited only one response, from the curiously absent 'Clark Kent' Edwards. It is probably fair to say that the entire history of the human race has never before seen such a response to having one's foot accidentally stepped upon.

One tends to recall brief snapshots of the event, filtered as it was through a strong sense of disbelief, and partially obscured by tears of laughter. It is rare that any of us has the opportunity to witness the complete and sudden decomposition of a man's psychological health - in many ways, we were privileged to be present, for this was an experience the likes of which one relates to one's grandchildren.

In the end, a good 10 minutes of game time was stolen from the Fish, but it was worth it. Much like living through a cyclone, players from both sides could do nothing but watch with a mixture of horror and fascination, and wait for it to be over before assessing the damage. After numerous technical fouls, an ejection from the game, several direct threats to the health and wellbeing of the referee, some comic waving of stick-thin limbs in a poor imitation of physical intimidation, and a retraction of the rejection by a tired referee who could feel the hot breath of Sudden Cardiac Death on the back of his neck, it was over.

And, professional to the last, the Black Fish continued to dominate their pathetic opposition until the final siren, recording a 38-18 rout of the 'Supremes'.

If only there were video of the meltdown suffered by 'Legs'. Alas, there is not. But there is a montage of some of the sweet plays by the Fish, which you will have the good fortune to view later this week.

As the Black Fish juggernaut continues, attention turns to the pivotal clash with league heavyweights, the Aussie Bruddhas, in Round 17.