The Inside word:
Sunday’s game against the New Zealand Breakers could yet prove to be a season defining win for us Melbourne Tigers. The Breakers were breathing down our necks on the standings and have come into form over the past couple of weeks.
It was the proverbial danger game as a loss would have seen us plummeting towards the bottom of the ladder. Instead, the win now propels us up into third.
The league is ridiculously tight this year and when it’s all said and done this week’s game came down to the very basics of any competitive sport.
Al Pacino said it best during his any given Sunday speech; “It’s the man who is willing to die that wins that inch.”
Whilst that sounds a tad dramatic, that was our focus all week; to play 40 minutes. No matter the circumstance. If we get down 20 just continue to fight for every single possession. Every single inch!
Last time we played NZ, Mika Vukona provided a terrific example of the effectiveness of this mentality. He played harder than we did and posted a line of 14 points, 17 rebounds and 8 assists. We new we were in for a fight on Sunday and the efforts of Mark Worthington and Lucas Walker outmatched the league leader in intensity.
I think for the first time this season we fought for that inch for the entire 40 minutes.
It was certainly not pretty all the time. Our foul shooting… well let’s just say, were not living up to expectations and our three balls were not dropping. however we stuck at it. When NZ went on a run it was much less to do with a lapse from us, and more to do with the fact that they were rolling.
The NZ Breakers, along with the Perth Wildcats, have been the benchmark for grit and effort in the NBL for the past 5 or so years.
All week coach Anstey preached the importance of this game and how we needed to establish ourselves amongst the NBL’s best in the effort areas. In a league that is so tight, so much of t is about heart. Who can go out there and play the hardest? We have been outworked a couple of times this season but I can feel as a group that this weekend has changed that.
We are off to Townsville this weekend. The Crocs clearly out-worked us last time they were in Melbourne and they walked away with a 20 point win.
At practice this week our message has been the same. We are going to continue to get better each day, little bit by little bit. We are going to want it more than them because we do want it more than them. In all levels of all sports you would be seriously surprised how many wins that will get you.
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