Back in the Day Article Season 2.1

Back in the Day Article Season 2.1

2010-11 Season Week One: And... They’re Off!

- Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet vows to fight attempts to extradite him to Spain to face murder charges relating to the ‘disappearance’ of 79 Spanish citizens during his 17 year reign of terror. Pinochet, recovering from back surgery performed at the exclusive London Clinic, is defended by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, blasting  the efforts by Spanish prosecutors to interfere with the life of a “sick and frail old man”.

- While battling to defeat the efforts of his Republican opponents to impeach him, U.S. President Bill Clinton gains what would prove to be a small victory with the successful conclusion of the Wye River meetings between Israel and the Palestine Authority. Jordan’s King Hussein, being treated for cancer at the Mayo Clinic, plays a critical role in moving the two sides closer to agreement.

- NASA enters the final stages of its publicity blitz as 77 year old Mercury Seven astronaut and former Ohio Senator John Glenn prepares to slip the surly bonds of earth for the first time in thirty-six years. There is wide-spread criticism that Glenn’s flight is nothing more than a simple publicity exercise for an agency struggling to maintain its relevance.

- 38,514 race fans squeeze their way into Moonee Valley Racecourse to see the running of the W.S. Cox Plate. The Jack Denham trained Might and Power, having won the Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double the previous season is an 11-8 on favourite in the ring. The champion does not disappoint, leading all the way to win by a length and a half.

- A memorable season of baseball comes to an end as the New York Yankees sweep the San Diego Padres 4-0 in the World Series. It is the Yankees’ 24th World Series success and follows a regular season where they had won 114 games (the most wins in a regular season since the 1954 Cleveland Indians) and lost only one game in the post-season.

Natalie Imbruglia is the new queen of the ARIA Awards, going home with six new baubles for her trophy case.

- Notable deaths for the week include the actor and dancer Christopher Gable (of cancer at the age of 53) and the novelist and screenwriter Eric Ambler (at the age of 89). Ambler’s novels, which told the stories of “grey, middle class men...who became enmeshed, usually against their will, in dark deeds” were the models for future literary stars such as Len Deighton. Ambler was also responsible for the adaptation of Walter Lord’s bestseller A Night to Remember.

- ‘The First Night’ ‘Gym and Tonic’ and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” were the number one songs (with bullets) on the music charts.

Off the courts, the major stories in the Australian basketball scene were:

1. The parlous financial state of the Canberra Cannons. The Cannons, the most successful team of the first decade of the NBL (five grand finals for three titles), were in voluntary administration with over a million dollars of debt hanging over the club. Efforts to find a saviour were continuing with then NBL GM John Rymarz saying that “I’d like to see something positive happening.” The signs were not promising with reports suggesting that the Cannons would be lucky to survive the month.

2. The launch of the IWBF Gold Cup in Sydney. At the time, it was the biggest wheelchair basketball event ever held in Australia and the second time that the Gold Cup had taken place in Australia (a men’s-only tournament was held in Melbourne in 1986). With Troy Sachs leading the way and as reigning Paralympic champions, the Rollers were warm favourites to keep the Cup on Australian shores. It was hoped that the Gliders would be able to improve on their fourth-place finish at the Atlanta Paralympics.

Now, to the games of the weekend...

Friday 23rd October 1998.

NBL Week Three, WNBL Week Three

WNBL Game One: Perth Breakers @Canberra Capitals.

Final score: Capitals 80-Breakers 69

The Capitals get their first win of the season on the back of a poor start by the Breakers. Perth produces six turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, allowing Canberra to score the opening ten points, a lead they would never lose. Eleanor Sharp and Shelley Sandie pace the home team, scoring 24 and 21 points respectively. Breakers’ coach Murray Treseder leaves the court disappointed that his team could only shoot 39% from the field.

NBL Game One: Melbourne Tigers @Canberra Cannons

Final score: Tigers 109-Cannons 98

A scoring spree by Andrew Gaze and Lanard Copeland allows Melbourne to squeak past a brave Canberra line-up. 24 of Gaze’s game-high 34 came in the second half, while Copeland hit a number of key shots in the fourth quarter. Mark Bradtke racks up his usual tallies (20 points and 17 rebounds) and brings up his 5000th NBL point with a thunderous dunk. At the post-match press conference, Tigers coach Lindsay Gaze expresses his concern about the future of the sport in Victoria without a purpose-built venue.

Milestone Alert: Mark Bradtke scores his 5000th NBL point.

IWBF Gold Cup Round One: Rollers vs Finland

Final score: Rollers 68-Finland 61

Saturday 24th October 1998

WNBL Game Two: Sydney Flames @Adelaide Lightning

Final score: Flames 71-Lightning 44

A large crowd descends on the Powerhouse, prepared to celebrate the unveiling of the Lightning’s and 36ers’ championship flags, confirming Adelaide’s position as “Title Town”. What better way to open the Lightning’s home stand than a clash between the perennial Grand Finalists? In the end, the match turns out to be a massive fizzer. An even first half saw the home side go into the locker room ahead 32-31 at the main break. In the second half, however, the Lightning imploded scoring only 12 points for the half as the Flames skipped away for an easy win.

WNBL Game Three: Perth Breakers @A.I.S.

Final score: A.I.S. 74-Breakers 69

Perth got off to a much better start in this encounter, leading the Students by a point at half-time. In a game that was close for most of the way, it was the clutch shooting of Lauren Jackson (who hit “a brace of 6m jumpers in the final three minutes”, finishing the game with 21 points) and a lopsided free-throw count (24 to the A.I.S. and only five to the Breakers) that decided the match. Perth’s Jenny Whittle led all scorers with 22 points for the game.

WNBL Game Four: Melbourne Tigers @Dandenong Rangers

Final score: Rangers 79-Tigers 74 (OT)

For the second week in a row, Kristi Harrower hits a buzzer-beating shot to send the game into an extra five minutes. In a tense overtime period, the Rangers coolness at the free-throw line (hitting their last six in a row) gave them the victory. Sally Phillips is the top-scorer for the home side with 19 points, while Harrower garners 18 for the visitors. It is also the first win for Mark Wright as coach of Dandenong.

Milestone Alert: Jo Metcalfe becomes the 11th player in WNBL history to play 250 games. As a result, she automatically receives Life Membership of the WNBL.

NBL Game Two: Townsville Crocodiles @Adelaide 36ers

Final score: 36ers 94-Crocodiles 89

Adelaide coach Phil Smyth was amazed at the crowd’s response to the unfurling of its 1998 championship flag “It was a monstrous standing ovation.” After such an unforgettable reception, any team would have struggled to maintain its focus. The game that followed was completely forgettable. Despite producing 26 turnovers, the 36ers eked out a win on the back of a strong effort by veteran Mark Davis (19 points on 8/11 shooting). Sam MacKinnon was lion-hearted for the visitors, delivering 21 points and 12 rebounds. The warm glow of nostalgia continued to burn at half-time, with four members of the 1986 ‘Invincibles” having their numbers retired (Darryl Pearce, Peter Ali, Ray Wood and Al Green).

NBL Game Three: Perth Wildcats @Wollongong Hawks

Final score: Hawks 83-Wildcats 80 (OT)

The Wildcats came into the game severely weakened by the unavailability of Ricky Grace, Anthony Stewart and Adrian Majstrovich through injury. They left the newly opened Sandpit severely weakened by a brilliant performance from C.J. Bruton. Staking his claim towards a regular spot in the Boomers program, Bruton’s game-high included 5/10 from three-point range, “an extraordinary baseline jumper” to tie the game at 74-74 at the end of regulation and seven of the Hawks’ nine points in the extra period. Having produced career-best performances in back-to-back weeks, Bruton was happy to say that this was “the biggest game of his life.”

Milestone Alert: James Crawford becomes the first man in NBL history to play 500 games. Meanwhile, James Harvey plays his first NBL game.

NBL Game Four: Sydney Kings @Newcastle Falcons

Final score: Falcons 100-Kings 84

The Falcons continued their best start to a season in a decade by completing a sweep of the other NSW teams. The Kings, coming off the back of a mighty victory over the Wildcats in Perth (a rare result at the best of times) were diabolical, with the home team rarely being troubled. The major story to arise out of this encounter was the allegation by Sydney’s Scott McGregor that Newcastle import Todd Mundt had spat on him in the second. After a hearing at the NBL Tribunal, Mundt was suspended for two matches.

Milestone Alert: Referee Ian Watts controls his 250th NBL game.

IWBF Gold Cup Round Two: Rollers vs Mexico

Final score: Rollers 79-Mexico 59

Sunday 25th October 1998

WNBL Game Five: Sydney Flames @Bulleen Melbourne Boomers

Final score: Boomers 62-Flames 58

After completing her duties with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Michelle Timms returns home to join her new club. The party to celebrate her first game as “the face of the WNBL” is almost spoiled by the visiting Flames. Trailing by four points at the half, Bulleen were able to take over the match in the second half and reverse the margin by full-time. Timms scores 14 points and five assists as the Boomers lock themselves in the top spot with a 4-0 record.

Milestone Alert: Alison Cook grabs her 1000th rebound.

IWBF Gold Cup Round Three: Rollers vs Egypt

Final score: Rollers 71-Egypt 41

NBL Ladder:

Top Six:                            Bottom Five

Newcastle      3 and 0          Brisbane                1 and 2

Melbourne      3 and 0          Perth                    1 and 2

West Sydney  2 and 1          Townsville             1 and 2

Wollongong     2 and 1          Sydney                1 and 2

Victoria           1 and 1          Canberra               0 and 4

WNBL Ladder:

Top Four:                           Bottom Four:

Bulleen           4 and 0            Sydney                 2 and 3

A.I.S.              2 and 1           Canberra               1 and 2

Perth              2 and 2            Dandenong           1 and 2

Melbourne       2 and 2           Adelaide                0 and 3

In the NBL, Brisbane, Victoria and West Sydney all had the bye.

Next week, we’ll be visiting in late October of 1999.

This is another 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.’