Back in the Day: December 1998

Back in the Day: December 1998

Where has the BA tardis landed this time? Eleven years ago, on December 16th, 1998....

Firstly, some very sad news: Basketball Australia extends its condolences on behalf of the entire Australian basketball community to the family and friends of former Melbourne Tiger and Brisbane Bullet Dave Colbert, who died in a car accident last Friday in Hartford, Connecticut. Colbert was one of the players responsible for making the Tigers a respected force in the NBL, starting with their first trip to the play-offs in 1989. At the time of his death, Colbert was coach of the basketball team at his alma mater, John Marshall High School. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the Colbert family in this time of trial.

16 December 1998: One WNBL Game, One NBL Game

WNBL: Australian Institute of Sport @ Sydney Flames

Final score: Flames 82- AIS 69

The Flames score a surprisingly convincing win against an AIS team stocked with future champions. It was a measure of revenge for the Flames following a controversial one point loss to the students earlier in the season. For the Flames, Alicia Poto and Rhonda Corkeron each scored 15 points. Lauren Jackson continued her drive to the MVP award with 26 points, with future Flames star Suzy Batkovic adding 16. This game would prove to be the AIS’ final loss of the season.

Milestone Alert: Annie La Fleur (nee Burgess) plays her 150th WNBL game and top scores for Sydney with 22 points with 8 rebounds.

NBL: Adelaide 36ers @ Sydney Kings

Final score: 36ers 115-Kings 82.

The Kings suffer their worst loss of the season to date, which ends a three-game winning streak. New import Acie Earl’s 29 points are not nearly enough to overcome a brilliant shooting performance from the 36ers (including an astonishing 19-of-34 from beyond the three point line). Cattalini (26), Mark Davis (24) and Kevin Brooks (23) stun the 7324 spectators into silence. At the end of the game, the Kings head to the rooms with a loud chorus of boos ringing in their ears.

18 December 1998: Two WNBL Games, Two NBL Games.

WNBL: Melbourne Tigers @ Adelaide Lightning

Final score: Lightning 55 - Tigers 53 in overtime

With an 11 point lead, and 10 minutes remaining, the Lightning looked to be home free. However, a mighty defensive effort by Melbourne, and vital baskets by Kerryn Henderson and Jo Metcalfe (who each finished with 17 points) forced the game into an extra period. A last second-layup by Adelaide’s Jo Hill sent the Powerhouse crowd into a frenzy of excitement. Rachael Sporn top scored for Adelaide (15).

Milestone Alert: Rachael Sporn regains her status as the WNBL’s all-time leading scorer, after being passed by Robyn Maher in the previous round.

WNBL: Dandenong Rangers @ Bulleen Melbourne Boomers

Final score: Boomers 69 - Rangers 57

This was truly a game of two halves. The Rangers got off to a flyer, with Allie Douglas, Lucille Hamilton and Jessica Bibby (15 points in the first half) prominent figures in the building of an eight point half-time lead. The second half saw the Boomers raise their defensive intensity and outscore their opponents 36-16. The Rangers shot a woeful 18% from the field in the second half, with Michelle Timms’ shutting down Bibby (4 points in the half) a major factor in the fight back.

Milestone Alert: Dandenong captain Sally Phillips plays her 100th game for the Rangers.

NBL: West Sydney Razorbacks @ Wollongong Hawks

Final score: Hawks 86 - Razorbacks 60

The Hawks break a four-game losing skid and climb back into the top six with a big win at The Sandpit. The Razors achieve a couple of unwanted records: the lowest score (60) and fewest points in a quarter (9, in the second quarter on 4/19 from the field) in the club’s short history. The foundation for the Hawks’ victory was set by the frontline duo of import Clayton Ritter (who top scored for the game with 21 points) and rookie David Andersen.

Milestone Alert: Brendan Joyce coaches his 100th NBL game

Mat Campbell plays his 100th NBL game

Derek Rucker plays his 200th NBL game.

NBL: Perth Wildcats @ Adelaide 36ers

Final score: 36ers 105 - Wildcats 92

These two long-time rivals delivered another hard, physical encounter in front of a raucous Powerhouse crowd. Despite missing Martin Cattalini (who was suffering from flu-like symptoms), the 36ers always had control of this game. Brett Maher top scored, garnering 27 points. The Wildcats not only lost the game, they lost gun centre Paul Rogers for an extended period with a fracture to the left medial malleolus bone (That’s the knobbly bone on the inside of the ankle).

19 December 1998: Three NBL Games, Two WNBL Games.

WNBL: AIS @ Canberra Capitals

Final Score: AIS 82 - Capitals 73

The AIS bounced back from their loss to Sydney in fine style in this national capital derby. Lauren Jackson produces another dominant display with 35 points (still the club record for most individual points in a game). Kristen Veal has 11 assists (then a club record for most individual assists in a game.) Shelly Sandie is the leading scorer for the Capitals with 25 points.

WNBL: Dandenong Rangers @ Melbourne Tigers

Final score: Rangers 62 - Tigers 57 in overtime

In a reversal of the previous night it was the Tigers who had the comfortable lead (9 points) heading into the last ten minutes of the game. Dandenong had had Allie Douglas foul out and all seemed lost. A 13-2 run by the Rangers saw them draw level with four minutes to go. After ending 50-50 at regulation, the Tigers took a four point lead into the last two minutes of overtime. The Rangers again stormed back and ended a miserable weekend for the Tigers, who dropped out of the top four.

NBL: Perth Wildcats @ Brisbane Bullets.

Final score: Bullets 106 - Wildcats 93

A weakened Wildcats line-up (no Crawford or Rogers due to injury, no Clinton McDaniel due to suspension) provided little opposition to a Brisbane team determined to give Leroy Loggins a memorable 41st birthday present. Leroy scored the opening two points (he would end the game with 13) and saw imports Steve Woodberry (27 points in an MVP performance) and Thaddeous Delaney (22 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter) cement the Bullets’ position in the top six.

Milestone Alert: Leroy Loggins becomes the second man to play 500 NBL games, the first was James Crawford. He would turn 41 the following day.

NBL: Canberra Cannons @ Melbourne Tigers

Final score: Cannons 110 - Tigers 99

The Cannons pull off a major upset by beating the 10-1 Tigers at home. Canberra reels off a 24-3 run in the first quarter and are never headed. Veteran Mike McKay has his best NBL game for years, scoring 31 points (including 6 from 13 from beyond the three point line.) Melvin Thomas controls the lane for Canberra with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Following a 10-0 start, the Tigers have lost their last two and concerns are starting to be raised.

NBL: Newcastle Falcons @ West Sydney Razorbacks

Final score: Falcons 107 - Razorbacks 91

The Razors start a 10-game home stand poorly as they lose to the Falcons. Newcastle had had a troubled preparation, with centre Ben Melmeth ruled out due to a torn calf muscle and import Todd Mundt sensationally sacked following two separate referrals to the NBL Tribunal. A 13 point third quarter by Tonny Jensen was enough to send the Falcons home with a winning record and a place in the NBL top six.

20 December 1998: One NBL Game, One WNBL Game

WNBL: Sydney Flames @ Perth Breakers

Final score: Breakers 72 - Flames 53

With 7 minutes remaining, the Flames were down by 3 against the home town Breakers. They would only score another 3 points for the game as Perth put up 19 to maintain their place at the top of the WNBL ladder. For the Breakers, Gina Stevens had returned to her form of 1996, when she had made the League’s All-Star Five. Her 25 points were a crucial factor in the Breakers’ victory.

NBL: Townsville Crocodiles @ Victoria Titans

Final score: Crocs 87 - Titans 72.

The upset of the round as the last-placed Crocs march into Rod Laver Arena and smite the Titans on their own floor. Brian Goorjian summed up the game ‘I thought we had some guys play poorly and as a group we were bad’. Crocs coach Ian Stacker’s use of a zone defence, combined with Titans point guard Darryl McDonald missing the game due to injury, saw Victoria turn the ball over 23 times. A 14-0 to start the second half, with key baskets from top-scorer Robert Rose (28), put this game into the history books.

NBL Ladder:

Top Six:                                                              Bottom Five:

Melbourne          10 and 2                                 Canberra         5 and 7

Brisbane              7 and 4                                 West Sydney   5 and 8

Victoria                7 and 4                                 Townsville       4 and 8

Adelaide              7 and 5                                 Perth                4 and 8

Newcastle           7 and 6                                 Sydney             4 and 8

Wollongong         6 and 6

WNBL Ladder:

Top Four:                                                    Bottom Four:

Perth                   9 and 4                             Melbourne      6 and 7

AIS                    10 and 5                            Sydney            6 and 7

Bulleen                8 and 6                             Dandenong     4 and 7

Adelaide              6 and 6                             Canberra         3 and 10

This column will be taking a break over the Christmas/New Year period. Next week, we will have some of your mail from the season so far.

P.S. A big thank you to Dr. Bruce Way for providing some much-needed medical information.

This is the eleventh in a regular series of articles that will take note of the historic events of the modern era of Australian basketball (1979-today). If you have memories to share, or topics that should be discussed, send an email to and put in the subject line ‘Back in the Day’.