Dwayne Russell called it today when he said “The Adelaide, Perth rivalry is not a manufactured one.”
The man was absolutely right.
What we saw tonight at Adelaide Arena was high-octane, play-off level basketball, borne of the passions and stories of seasons’ past.
The Adelaide 36ers took their high-flying, full court game to the Perth Wildcats early, but were unable to maintain their offensive flow while simultaneously trying to lock down the NBL’s un-caged monster, Nate Jawai.
While Mitch Creek showed signs of his gym work early with an ensemble of dunks, it was the heady inside work of Nate Jawai, and the cool, calm and collected demeanour of Jermaine Beal which eventually won the day.
Much can be said about the bravery of men tasked with maintaining Jawai. The accidental flailing of one of his massive limbs could permanently maim a mere mortal. Surely the league’s big men are in line for bravery awards this season?
And with some of the big bodies flying around, some of the cheerleaders on the baseline might be in receipt of honours, also.
The game was a great endorsement for the league. It was filled with dunks, highlights, and enough skill to interest an NBA fan, plus enough physicality to pique the interest of an AFL one.
For the first half, at least, the NBL’s Twitter feed was swimming in footage like this:
— NBL (@NBL) October 10, 2015
There was even a slight, and subtle improvement to the production.
While it might go unnoticed by some, I certainly did notice the cross-over to pre-game footage of Ebi Ere in his high-altitude “Sub-Zero” Mortal Kombat style mask.
The cross-over occurred during a break in play – a time usually squandered by NBL broadcasters, and the clip showed an intriguing, and slightly humorous side of the American import.
It is these glimpses into the personality and humanity of players that make fans invest in them. For this much, the NBL deserves some recognition.
NBL, If you are reading, I noticed!
The NBL also took us into the locker rooms once more. We got to see Joey Wright lay down the law, and Damien Martin get his “Jon Snow on” to his troops – another opportunity to present the personality of the league and its players.
These were signs of the “incremental improvements” Jeremy Loeliger promised me in our Twitter exchange.
@hurley509 Still early days and I think you'll have noticed incremental improvement each game so far. Keep watching!!
— Jeremy Loeliger (@JeremyLoeliger) October 9, 2015
The coverage wasn’t all brilliant, though. We still had issues with the shot clock, and for some reason the NBL still thinks clips of fumbles and missed lay ups are worthy of highlight collages.
But if everything ran perfectly, it simply wouldn’t be the NBL we all know and love.