With an 87-81 victory over the Adelaide 36ers last Friday night, the Melbourne Tigers did much more than simply lift their record to 10-12. The Tigers displayed the exact style of play that could see them be a championship contender for years to come. Some may say that’s wishful thinking or even biased, one-eyed idiocy but bookmark this article and come and see me in 12 months.
While this season is still in the balance thanks in part to some significant off-court drama, the team demonstrated hustle, determination and a game style on Friday night that could be the key to substantial success moving forward.
New import Myron Allen was a live-wire, darting through the Adelaide defense and creating havoc from multiple angles. Daniel Dillon was relentless in his pursuit of the ball on the defensive end, while also pushing the tempo and consistently making the right choices with the ball on offense. Ron Dorsey and captain Tommy Greer were consistently effective in providing full court pressure on the Adelaide ball-handlers. On one particular possession, Dorsey led his player to the perfect position as Greer switched to complete the steal. On that and quite a few other occasions in the second half, the crowd was amped and the Cage was very loud, giving the audible impression of a sell-out crowd while falling about 650 short.
I was fortunate enough to watch the game with Nick Metallinos from starting5.com.au and Steve Smith from the Border Mail. Before the game we ran into a couple of Tigers’ officials who certainly seemed like they had an extra pep in their step. This was possibly (but not confirmed to be) due to the Management changes experienced just hours prior. With Seamus McPeake and his “colourful” management style removed from the scene it genuinely felt like everyone both on-court and off had a more relaxed approach to the game. Don’t get it twisted, the players were going at 120% but they were seemingly able to relax and just play, rather than wonder what misguided rant was coming next at games end.
Some say Adelaide were “lowly” opponents or that the Tigers did well but “only against Adelaide”, whereas I think that’s misguided. The NBL this season has shown that (for the most part) any team can win on any given night. One of the greatest qualities our league possesses is it’s even playing field. The Melbourne Tigers out-played, out-hustled, out-rebounded and out-scored the Adelaide 36ers on this night to win 87-81 and had to work bloody hard to do so. When any professional sporting team has to work that hard together one of two things happens. They either rise together or fall together and on this night Melbourne found a method that got them over the line.
With Melbourne players finding ideal hustle and energy-based roles during this game I believe the Tigers have found a genuine game plan that could cause some havoc if they’re lucky enough to make the Playoffs this season. If it doesn’t happen this season, my advice to the Melbourne hierarchy is to re-up next season with an unchanged roster. The Adelaide game has proven that Melbourne has arguably the strongest roster in the league and (with an off-season of continuity under it’s belt), could challenge for Championships for years to come.
Regardless of who you follow in the NBL, here’s hoping Melbourne have a strong finish to the season as the players deserve it. The new ownership could do a lot worse than keeping this group around for the long haul. Too much change in a short period of time is no good for anyone and it’s time the Tigers dug in and showed some faith in their squad moving forward.
Here’s to a (potential) epic playoff run!