Dive! Dive! Dive! Pigeons and gulls swoop to hit the air just above the heads of those waiting outside the Ent Cent. Cover the eyeballs, they want more after a taste of those slim-fat fries. Sizzling hot plates burn the tongue with a sauce that won't stop. Purple tickets are made late and with that, an indication of a fairly sparse crowd in for the evening. All up to row E seems to be carpeted, all those behind slabbed with flaking cement.
Sydney Kings open the scores, moving fast and starting the run down on the Crocodiles of Townsville with swift hands and quick feet. Energy just burns off as they are all over the court making shots come fair enough despite the visitors asking otherwise. Major squeakage comes from the boards, the slightest step screeching and screaming at the wax and polish against the rubber soles. Nothing, however, is timed with making it sound like a Nike commericial shot in a dark studio. Kings see the first with 29 over 22.
Dressed in scary purple tights, the Lion shows off thin ankles in a little rendition of Swamp Lake with the mini cheerleaders in tow. Condensed into a short minute, the story only has time to introduce a straightforward hate against the clearly defined antagonist. Floating minis land on their feet to stomp on and all over the inflatable crocodile, though not all take it as a few run off and circle around. Getting one for the Lion, a big jump into a double foot stomp fails to land right, hauling into cheers and laughter from the crowd. A long time since that last happened it would be good to see if another skit or two appear before the end of the season. One mini cheerleader goes all out in giving the croc whatfor as the players wait to rejoin the clock.
Quarter two sees the ball handling skills step up with a near comical passing game. Charging a start that will be on for the rest of the night, the Crocs find easy driveways straight to the basket, the Kings watching on as either Robert Rose steam rolls inside or John Rillie bombs from the outer. Wavering as they are, scores look set to a tidy Kings first half. Breaking the rhythm, Crocs call a timeout with 3.3 before the half and steal themselves into a lead on 49 to 48.
Topped with various singlets old, away, home and some other, the Harlequins dance/parade the centre circle as a guy notes their availability without a mention of the price. Shirts, the shirts. In what looks to be a visual trick, the slightly bigger sleeves make their skirts seem shorter than usual. Are their routines getting more sexual or less so?
A break dance group, Dancekool Crew, stroll on and give away a trick way too early. On with Justin Timberlake's Senorita, there is no life as yet, dead and strained with a warm up that touches close to but not near enough for a full breakout. Brief horns from the Chi-Lites' Are You My Woman (Tell Me So) finally kick it into gear with faster kicks and more over on the floor. Wildfully disjointed moments in the act are held back by two or three left standing around looking more than a little edgy for their turn. The green helmet on the floor finally makes its way and the crowd pause. A fantastic headspin that lasts for far more than a few seconds, is surrounded by all the members spitting into action. Entirely facing one end of the court rounds out the spectacle, a classy move on the logistics of having to perform to more than one side of the Kingdome. With little fanfare, the National Break Dance Champions walk off leaving more than just the sound busters satisfied.
Rodney O and the crowd ramp up the intensity and urgency of the third, the impetus on seeing whether or not the Kings will be able to recover from the performance thus far. Continuing the theme, Mark Sanford struggles to show off anything close to a brute force to be reckoned with, easily and frequently denied from all over and under the basket. CJ Bruton goes missing, injured off the court. King steals are impressively bountiful yet their rebound game is patchy at best. Croc's import Casey Calvary closes the third with another heavy dunk for the night, putting Townsville 76 over 69 into the last quarter.
Tricked out bass reverb in the speakers really does well to make the voice, Rodney O, boom across the stadium. Every little chance he gets, another trembling resonance features in the calls. Over in section 31 a dude still tries to play what sounds like the start of Thomas Newman's Six Feet Under theme on his bastardised clarinet. Or some other reed/wind instrument
Dying along the fourth quarter and seeing a win slip away point by point with the Crocs, the Kings continue to press on with a strong defence. Sadly the offence of the visitors is better as they continue to jump over the Kings. Kendall goes down hard and floats on arms as he is taken off the court. Another looks set to bite the dust as captain Jason Smith hobbles around in the dying minutes. Luke Martin keeps the pressure on as a one man army zooming all over the court and looking extremely tired. Minutes turn into seconds and the dying breath of the crowd counts down 4, 3, 2, 1. Kings down and out on 91 with Crocs winning 109.
Reviewed on Thursday, 18 November 2004