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.
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