The Wax Conspiracy

Rolan Roberts; Sydney Kings vs Wollongong Hawks - Entertainment Centre - 04/12/04

Lifting two tickets from the palm of Jason Smith and standing near a Lion reeking of toil and sweat, a problem makes itself known when the need is for three. Hustling quick at the box office, a suitable compromise with seats on the corner and far closer than stated, still behind the backboard with a great view in section 8. Australian Idol finalist Dan O'Connor belts out a strong and thankfully short rendition of the Australian anthem, careful not to wail needlessly on imaginary syllables. Wild interpretation is not the duty here, a serviceable performance is. And was. Wollongong wear warm up jerseys with no single sponsor, every player towing the line for another name, different from the last, none the same as the next.

Jason Smith begins things with two points through the ring. Fresh of the boat, or whatever form of transport, new import Rolan Roberts enters the court and blasts open with a slam dunk and a quick rebound seconds later. This man has presence, aggression and commands the space he stands in. Mark Sanford is a pasty goth in comparison. Strong on, the Kings are looking to make sure the Hawks don't win on this night as they end the first with 14 against a home 20.

The Lion leads a short dance with two women from the boxes. As soon as Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough starts up they take cue and walk/run off with no desire to be there any longer than they can stand. Sit back, relax and enjoy the game, if there was anything else—outside the usual competition gophering—it was missed. Lion antics are a kept to a whisper in this game.

Returning the second, Roberts still continues to wear a singlet that says ROLAN, a case of throwing people off? Identity crisis? Making it louder than the first, Roberts continues the strong play, stirring a grand presence, not letting the opposition get in his way or even making him bend to their will. Silver streak Hawk's, Mike Kelly, pops up all over the court, here and there like a one man team. As both sides are heavy on their defence the offence is whittling away making an one of those sacrificial dolls and missing many from the perimeter. It goes on for the rest of the match. Kings already hit the limit of team fouls just halfway through the quarter, Luke Martin making a nice collection to dangle a personal count of four. 40 to 31.

Down closer to the floor, the formation of the Harlequin routines present a new angle seen once or twice before. Shifting heads and shoulders of the cheerleaders replace the plotted views from on high. Never once do they stop smiling. Or moving. Their enthusiasm clearly evident when just sitting there in the corners. Ebullient. Jittery. Time for rest is after the game.

Dan O'Connor returns to sing a few cover songs for the half-time. Hardy as the opener, he swaggers with a mixed look of wanting to leave and not knowing what to do with the rest of his body. Reading time is given aplenty and polishing off the fresh Kings News is easy in what nothing remains for entertainment in the break.

Hawks hold off the Kings well, forcing down the shot clock dangerously close to turnovers. Plenty of shots peel off during the final seconds before the buzz. Shooting still as wavery at the fresh count. Players pretty much stand around breathing and sidestepping each other with no advance until single digits. Glen Saville cracks Roberts, blocking the import's go at a drive through lay up. BJ Carter is getting thrown all over the court, no Hawk is letting this man get a foot hold, his every move under attack and with no chance to rest. Hawks look to steal the edge into the last but Smith makes a clean shot to bring back the margin to one leaving Kings at 58 to the Hawk's 59.

Rodney O actively enjoys using Darnell Mee in his calls. "Two shots to Mee. One shot to Mee." It's all about Mee and there is mirth in his voice. Timing is not in synch with the Philips big screen behind, shout outs to check the action turn heads just in time to miss the blur. Rupturous love is most showing, bound with a flavour of excitement.

Opening the final quarter, Hawks' Troy Pilon stamps his feet, cries for attention and looks for a teacher on the playground to hand him the ball the other kids are playing with. Mad scrambling is had, the ball not sure where it intends to go as possession flips and flops with every other player just losing touch. Everybody else is on with the last few minutes of the game. Flooring the boards, Saville picks up a travelling violation while on his back. Coming down from a deft "Virgin airline flying high" moment, Smith is eager to make a bomb only to be told to relax and breathe by Sheriden. Or Wheeler. Closing on the remaining, the Twin calmly pots a four point make at the free throw, courtesy of the visitors and their rush toward the end. Hawks still fight on despite the time and sheer mathematical improbability and sink the last shot to bring themselves on ten at the final margin. Not enough, Kings 86 - Hawks 76.

Ethan Switch

Reviewed on Sunday, 5 December 2004

The Wax Conspiracy



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