Sunday, October 8, 2006
Round 3: BF v Homebrand
Entering Round 3 with a flawless undefeated record, the Black Fish looked full of confidence as they strode onto a typically dimly-lit Court 2 for the vital clash with traditional rivals Homobrand. The humbling experience of Round 19, Winter Season 2006, was but a distant memory as the Fish welcomed back club stalwarts Nissen and Downing for their first game of the season, relegating an unlucky Ang to an early Ben Hart-style retirement.
Despite the eerily-loud cheers from the massive courtside contingent of one (Ly), and the uncommon luxury of a substitute, the Fish eased themselves out to a slow and imprecise start. The usual laser-guided precision passing was strangely absent, allowing the lumbering Homobrands to steal an early lead. The fearful gasps from the cheersquad at the prospect of another humiliation at the hands of Homobrand would have been deafening had the crowd been several thousand times larger.
The fine men of the Black Fish, however, are so in tune with their supporters' emotions that even the relatively inaudible groans of disappointment cut deeply into their large (and for some, transiently segmentally-dyskinetic) hearts. Was there any doubt that the lads would respond? No, sir. And so, with a novel combination of dash, pluck, ill-conceived passes, strong rebounding, awkward fouls and a sprinkle of that old Black Fish magic, our boys closed to within a point at the half.
Few who had witnessed the first half would have expected the second half to be pretty. And it wasn't.
But it was tense, sweaty, hard fought, and - in the end - one of the most exciting matches of he season. On several occasions during the half it appeared that the Fish may have been swept aside, and indeed a lesser side may have capitulated, but they kept hanging on, confident in their freakish ball-handling skills.
As expected, all six Fish played well: Nissen channeled the emotion of a tumultuous day into a fearsome defensive intensity, Noutz controlled the defensive boards and entertained the crowd with a trick shot off the backboard supports, Whittle ran up and down doing the same old thing he usually does, Rodgers played a typically strong game in the key at both ends of the court, scoring in excess of half of the team's final score, relative newcomer Downing patrolled the mid-court to an extent rarely seen at this level, and it was again Edwards who led from the front with a strong display of piercing drives and sweet outside shooting.
In the frenetic final few minutes of the match both sides missed golden opportunities to score the winning points, but in the dying seconds a dubious foul allowed the Homobrands a chance to break the deadlock with a pair of free-throws ater the full-time siren. Unable to muster a Hoosiers-style fairytale shot, the Homobrand in question Motlopped both shots. The final result? A heart-stopping 21-21 draw.
While a disappointing result for the Fish, they remain undefeated this season and look forward with growing confidence to the Round 4 clash with traditional rivals (and league newcomers) The Disgraced.