Ethan Switch - Sunday, 24 October 2004
With several minutes before tip-off, tickets from the box office reveal that with even all the people walking around the Entertainment Centre, low seats were still to be had. A man wearing a blue UNICEF shirt handing out UNICEF noted flyers is doing miserable against a blonde only a few metres to his right. Her shrunken top might have something to do with her handful being near out.
A pudgy unibrow is ushered from seats in row G and looks upward toward the black of somewhere else. Other people find their seats waving umbrellas precariously close to taking out eyeballs. Ryan handles our umbrella, seating it in a vacant spot on the fifth. Atom notes Shane Heal's #23 singlet has moved and now sits between all the banners, brought in from the outer since being raised to the rafters on retirement. The 2003/04 championship banner still shines whitest and the game begins.
The Kings are heavy on the Hunter Pirates from the jump. The visitors, wearing uniforms like basketball variants of the Essendon Bombers, start like Bangladesh against any other Test cricketing nation in comparison. Mark Sanford plays up nice block shot giving fans a reflection. Luke Kendall and CJ Bruton kick in the points leaving the Pirates in shock with the Kings on the first with 27 on 20.
The Lion, with yellow tinted sunglasses that constantly fall off, is on court with the Harlequins but looks lost and perplexed. Events later on would suggest a burning love being sought in the arms of strangers, mostly women. Once such in a corporate box on the half court line gets smothered a few times leaving her a little shaken after each hug.
A lone Hunter Pirates drummer shouts and screams through all the expected bits. Throwing everyone around him for a curve he shouts out something about his mother being good enough in response to a Kings supporter responding to his earlier claims of a bad shooter with a rebuttal. Uh...
Mini-cheerleaders run out and dance on the floor skewed in oddly aligned clumps and heights. Saddled with DJ Otzi's cover of Hey Baby, they perform the same small set of moves for their scattered duration. As they return to do the exact same later on it's seen as an orchestrated display in disarray. That and a hasty cover for break dancers who don't know what time it is.
Back in the second quarter and import Sanford, still causing the Kings fans much wincing, slam dunks for a nice start. From the away, ex-Kings players such as Ben Melmeth and Kavossy Franklin seem to fare better with the crowd than David Stiff last Wednesday. The hate and hissing clearly missing with the majority interested in watching how they stack up holding the tower with their new team. For reasons missed, Atom keeps calling a player from the Pirates a "little bitch." Can't recall who. Pirates make amends for their efforts in the first and collect themselves to sneak back to breathe 47 under the Kings' 49.
Half-time sees the Harlequins stay around for the entirety of Pink's Feel Good Time. The Airganix blimp, dangling a striped ping pong ball roams around the stands a few times. Bringing up the kids in waves and magnets as they clamber over seats and other people desperate to be under the blimp at the drop off. This spin continues for a full five minutes with a few seconds spill over. There is nothing else as everyone watches the time clock down.
Kavossy Franklin opens the third with two lay-ups. Both times without the ball. Stripped and cleaned in quick succession. Both teams look to be in worse shape than in the first half. Pirates pull out a strangely manoeuvred timeout on the break although their defence is far better than that of the Kings. Steals run rampant and the defensive hide of Kings is severely weathered against the Pirates. Thalo Green seems like he's doing an okay job, but the counts for total team turnovers makes for hard counting. That and having not kept track in the first place. Atom starts to yawn as the night draws to a clear lead with Kings up 88 on 69 for the out-of-towners to walk into the final quarter.
Rodney O is a little too comfortable with the abbreviations and reels off a few lines understood by hardly anyone. Letters completely fill one call although it's expected that two of the letters represent the player up at the free throw. The Lion is back and dances off with a middle-aged woman who he ends up roughing up a bit and continues dancing even when she's gone and run off. The Philips big screen has been tight with the replays and makes for only one commercial throughout the early Sunday night.
Pressure is smelt and the Kings are held scoreless for a large chunk of the final quarter with the Pirates only doing marginally better on the scoreboard. Resting for much of the last quarter any way, the work is put up on the Pirates who try and make for a run down on the board with shots spare of coming close to anxious. Sweat on the shoulders and arms of Sanford blind over the others on the court as a speck of blood is mopped up. Marking the sixth or seventh dunk seen for the whole night, David Barlow slams one within the last minute and the Kings are home 107 on the Pirate's 94.