vir non camelus est.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Round 24

With a mathematical chance of making the finals still alive, the Fish reacted to their recent run of injuries by manufacturing a stunning recruiting coup. To the disbelief of many in the media, this humble (but mighty) basketball club managed to recruit Crows champions Mark Ricciuto, Ben Hart and Trent Hentschel for their critical Round 24 clash with the Aussie Bruddhas.

And so it was that the Fish fielded four players for the match.

Whittle, Edwards, a serene 'Garden of Eden' Noutz (finally rid of that pesky Adam), and star recruit Randall "Ernieand" Birt strode confidently onto court 2 despite their numerical disadvantage. The Bruddhas, of course, continued to grapple with their numeracy disadvantage, amongst other evident handicaps.

But of all the dud cards dealt to the Bruddhas by their maker (and indeed several of their boys have the Royal Flush), lack of enthusiasm is not amongst them. And so it was that the game began at a typically frenetic pace (with typically few successful scoring shots from either side). Deep into the first half the scores were level and a few beads of sweat were beginning to appear on the furrowed brows of a brave but outnumbered Fish outfit.

When the Noutz juggernaut came crashing to a halt courtesy of a sickening finger injury (described by John Reid as 'more like a car accident injury than an E-grade basketball injury'), things began to look grim, but those of you with enough idle time on your hands to have read all 23 of the previous (and increasingly long-winded and subordinate clause-laden) match reports do not need me to remind them that that this is exactly when the Black Fish dig deep.

And so they did.

It was all quality in the second half from all four players as the Fish inexorably drew away from their cytogenetically-challenged rivals. By the end, it was simply showtime. Whittle failed to complete multiple behind-the-back passes as he and Edwards competed for the Black Fish match assists record. Birt went one better by interrupting several plays for a quick spew before rushing back on the court to make the shot, drool and carrots trailing in his wake.

In the end, it was an embarrassment-avoiding 34-16 victory for the Fish. Job done.

And now for the final match of the minor round. The biggest game of the year. The final showdown with the Fakers. Destiny awaits.

Do not miss it.

Round 23

After his goodwill tour of Europe and Asia, BF00 returned to find his beloved Black Fish in disarray - reeling from a couple of thumping defeats, ravaged by injury, and facing the prospect of missing the finals. Wishing briefly that he could face such adversity with the same stoic indifference as Neil Craig, BF00 strode onto the dimly-lit court three with only one thought in mind: try to start a fight with those Air Supremes.

And so began the most awaited Marden Round 23 Court 3 grudge match in living memory. Buoyed by a massive crowd of Ly, Billing and Caroline (in her much lamented swansong), six Fish were available for the first time in months.

Any expectations of a toe-stepping, oversized-singlet-grabbing, brain-explosion-inducing niggle-fest evaporated in a tense first five minutes of tight, quality basketball. As the Fish found it increasingly difficult to penetrate the offensive key, the possibility of a boilover began to hang heavily over the Black Fish bench.

(Warning: ridiculous metaphors ahead)

But, as any Black Fish afficionado would know (and I know you're out there), such situations are the fertile soil from which Black Fish spirit sprouts so magnificently, like sturdy vines from Alex's beloved terra rossa, ready to bombard the opposition with quality long bombs like so many glorious cabernet grapes. And from that point on the hapless Supremes were no more than pathetically ineffective phylloxera species perishing in the face of the pesticide that is the Fish's impenetrable zone defence and sharp-passing offence.

It was textbook Black Fish match strategy: Solid inside work from Rodgers and Vasilunas, slightly crazed full-court intensity from Noutz, slick passing and annoyingly effective defence from Nissen, graceful offensive manoevering from Edwards, and destructive long-bombing from 'Hamas' Whittle.

The Supremes, as is their way, reacted to their imminent humiliating defeat by resorting to ill-considered and unimpressive acts of violence. Michael Chang, one of The Supremes' fabled insane duo, was particularly noisome. Regretfully the collision which resulted in an injust double technical foul resulted in no visible injury to the little pest. Many in the crowd will look forward to a re-match next season.

In the end, it was a moral victory for the Fish as they cantered to a 43-28 thumping of their little foes.

And in summary:

1. BF still in the hunt for the finals.

2. Air Supreme take it up the arse, doo-dah.