The Melbourne Tigers have taken advantage of a Townsville Crocs outfit on the return leg of a double-game week, to win their first game of the season 91 to 66.
Both teams were yet to record a win this season before their encounter on Sunday afternoon at Hisense arena.
With tension in the air both teams began the first quarter tentatively to secure their maiden win of the year. Defensive lapses by Townsville and some brilliance including and-one baskets from Burston, Scott and an amazing fall-away layup from youngster Chris Goulding had Crocodiles coach Paul Woolpert pulling out his hair by the end of the first quarter.
An increase of defensive pressure from the Crocs led to early gains in the second quarter. Led by backup guard Mitch Norton, the Crocs got back within one point by the 6:44 mark.
Taking advantage of their transition game, Melbourne was able to score early in their offense. Townsville were unable to match the increased tempo as Melbourne increased their buffer 12 points at the break.
Under pressure point guard Kevin Braswell had accrued 5 of his 6 assists by the half as he played facilitator for the Tigers outfit.
Frustrations began to boil over as the effects of their second game this round for Townsville began to show.
The hustle and effort was lacking from the Crocs, evident in the 45-23 rebound demolishment by the Tigers. Even after forcing Melbourne into 17 turnovers, they were not able to take advantage of their opportunities.
“The game of basketball that we played was completely unacceptable,” said Townsville coach Paul Woolpert.
“We were defeated in every facet of the game. The Tigers seemed bigger stronger and fitter. They looked like they wanted it more.”
Boomer and Crocs shooting guard Peter Crawford was visibly distraught with the loss, getting frustrated on the court and looking stone cold in the post match press conference.
Frustrations were also for everyone to see on Woolpert as he was called for a technical foul midway through the final period.
His frustrations were in vein as the result was beyond doubt, handing Chris Anstey his first win as Melbourne Tigers head coach.
“The starting group really set the tone I thought,” said Anstey. “It was one of the highest scores that have been put on the board throughout the league this season. I think it’s really promising as it sets the belief that we are on the right path.”
Adam Ballinger (23 points, 7 rebounds), who led all scorers for the Tigers was just happy to be back on the court healthy and feeling like his old self.
“It’s been a long time since I felt good on the basketball court. I felt good all week. When we run good offense, I usually get good shots. Honestly it felt good, I had a lot of fun out there.”
Youngster Mitch Norton provided life for the Townsville Crocs in his limited minutes, something Townsville can look forward to.
The Melbourne Tigers are again at home this coming Friday against the Adelaide 36ers, who have already defeated them once this season.
Townsville have it no easier than Melbourne, playing the New Zealand Breakers also Next Friday night at home.
Melbourne Tigers 91 (Ballinger 23, Goulding 15, Scott 12))
Townsville Crocs 66 (Crawford 15, Blanchfield 14, Ervin 7)