Back in the Day: Season 2.2

Back in the Day: Season 2.2

This week, the BA time machine has landed in October of 1999...

- With only days to go before Australia votes on whether to become a republic, Prime Minister John Howard comes out strongly in favour of a ‘No’ vote. His Treasurer and assumed successor, Peter Costello, surprises many by breaking away from the PM and supporting a ‘Yes’ vote. The major problem facing both sides of the debate is an extreme case of voter apathy.

- NSW Olympics Minister Michael Knight is at the centre of a political scandal following the first round of allocations for Olympics tickets. Advertising suggesting that there would be five million tickets available to the public proves to be false: the response from sports fans, governing bodies and the ACCC is loud and violent. Knight is forced to deliver a grovelling apology and offer refunds to disappointed participants in the ballot.

- Britain’s unwritten constitution undergoes major reform as the House of Lords agrees to abolish the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the upper Chamber of Parliament. For the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, it is another landmark in their program for constitutional change.

- An important day in the history of the former Indonesian province of East Timor with the United Nations announcing the creation of UNTAET or the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor. UNTAET would stay in operation until the Timorese nation was considered ready to run itself.

- Twickenham plays host to a weekend of rugby few will ever forget as the Rugby World Cup reaches the semi-final stage. In the first semi, Australia and South Africa slug it out in a brutal encounter that is only decided when Wallaby fly-half Stephen Larkham kicks the first drop-goal of his career in extra time. The second semi sees France shock the world by defeating New Zealand 43-31 in a match critics regard as the finest ever played.

- The New York Yankees become the most successful club in the history of North American team sports as they sweep the Atlanta Braves to claim their 25th World Series title. The Yankees pass the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, who had won the Stanley Cup 24 times.

- The most notable death of the week was that of renowned Spanish poet Rafael Alberti. Alberti, who was 96, was a determined opponent of the fascist regime of Francisco Franco during almost four decades in exile.

- “Keep on Movin”, “Smooth” and “Mambo No 5” sat atop the music charts.

NBL Week 5, WNBL Week Four

Wednesday 27th October 1999

NBL Game One: Canberra Cannons @Melbourne Tigers
Final score: Tigers 102-Cannons 89

As part of the NBL’s ‘Takin it to the Streets’ promotion, Bendigo played host to this encounter. Al Westover was in the big chair for the Tigers, with Lindsay Gaze in Munich on FIBA duties. The first half was controlled by Mark Bradtke: his 14 points, 14 rebounds and six assists gave the Tigers the lead at half-time. Despite being behind for most of the contest, the Cannons showed form that belied their position at the bottom of the ladder. With 4:11 remaining in the game, Damian Ryan hit a jump shot that brought Canberra to within a point. That is close as they would get as Andrew Gaze and Lanard Copeland closed the game out, combining for 21 of the Tigers’ 23 points in the final term.

Friday 29th October 1999
WNBL Game One: Dandenong Rangers @Melbourne Tigers
Final score: Rangers 66-Tigers 65

The Rangers condemn Melbourne to their fourth straight loss in a thriller at Rod Laver Arena. An even first half saw the Tigers ahead. Dandenong then took the lead with the first basket of the second half. Melbourne, led by Kristen Folkl (a game-high 24 points) and Kristi Harrower, then leapt ahead and led by as many as eight points. With 24 seconds remaining the Tigers still led by four before Jo Myers hit a three-pointer to bring the Rangers to 64-65. After being fouled with 11.9 seconds to go, Harrower missed both free throws allowing Dandenong one last chance. Jade Hyett was able to find Emily McInerny under the basket, who hit the winning lay-up with 4.4 seconds remaining to play.

WNBL Game Two: Sydney Flames @Adelaide Lightning
Final score: Flames 58-Lightning 43

The Flames continued their recovery from a 0-3 start to the season by defeating their great rivals in enemy territory. The Lightning did not help their own cause with their inability to break through Sydney’s zone defence. Only Jo Hill with 16 points could hold her head high after a performance described by The Advertiser beat man Boti Nagy as “offensively impotent”. On a day when her WNBA rights had been traded to Phoenix, Trish Fallon scored 14 points for the Flames.

NBL Game Two: Sydney Kings @Melbourne Tigers
Final score: Kings 103-Tigers 91

For the first two and a half quarters of this traditional rivalry game, Sydney was woeful. They repeatedly failed to box out the Tigers on the boards and gave their opponents numerous easy baskets. With 7:27 remaining in the third, Melbourne led 68-47 and all was well. Then Aaron Trahair took control, scoring 13 points in the third period and sparking a 25-4 run that drew the Kings level at 72-72. After being rocked on their heels, the Tigers “imploded meekly” in the final term and allowed Sydney to skip away for a notable victory. Having cut Steve Woodberry earlier in the week, the Kings now had a week to look for their 11th import in just over two seasons.

NBL Game Three: Wollongong Hawks @Adelaide 36ers
Final score: 36ers 105-Hawks 80

Having only once defeated the 36ers in Adelaide (on a Rod Johnson buzzer-beater in 1990), Wollongong was not expected to greatly trouble the two-time defending champions. The first half was a tight affair with Adelaide going to the break with a 43-41 lead. Martin Cattalini then took off in the third period. He scored 14 of his game-leading 24 points and set off a 19-4 run in the opening 5:44 of the period that ended the game as a contest. The 36ers coasted to victory and held their position at the top of the NBL ladder.

Milestone Alert: Darnell Mee plays his 100th NBL game.

Saturday 30th October 1999

WNBL Game Three: Sydney Flames @Perth Breakers
Final score: Flames 65-Breakers 51

The Flames completed a rare sweep of the “Doomsday Double” by winning the first WNBL game played at Joondalup Arena. The Breakers had signalled that their defensive strategy was keyed on shutting down Trish Fallon (who was averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds per game). While Fallon was held to only 14 points, Suzy Batkovic exploded for 25 points and was the player of the game. With the victory, Sydney was now lurking on the edge of the top four and waiting to pounce.

WNBL Game Four: Bulleen Melbourne Boomers @A.I.S.
Final score: Boomers 68-A.I.S. 61

Alison Tranquilli scored 24 points as the Boomers squeaked by a gutsy A.I.S. team. Having lost a number of players from their WNBL Championship-winning team of the previous season, the Students were bound to struggle to stay out of the cellar. Belinda Snell led the A.I.S. with 15 points.

NBL Game Four: Wollongong Hawks @Perth Wildcats
Final score: Wildcats 89-Hawks 86

This “pulsating game” went right down to the wire. With 10 seconds left and the scores level, Andrew Vlahov fouled C.J. Bruton to stop the clock. Bruton, who was shooting 84% from the free-throw line, stepped up with the 8000 strong crowd chanting “Traitor, Traitor”. Slightly unnerved by the hubbub, Bruton missed both free-throws gifting the Wildcats one last chance. Vlahov rebounded and passed the ball to Ricky Grace who was quickly double-teamed. Grace delivered a long pass to Scott Fisher who then found a wide-open Vlahov perched on the three-point line. Vlahov put up the shot....good! Hawks coach Brendan Joyce said it all: “Gee, we deserved to win that. They got out of jail.”  
Milestone Alert: Wollongong’s Mark Dalton becomes the tenth player in NBL history to play 400 games.

NBL Game Five: Adelaide 36ers @Canberra Cannons
Final score: 36ers 96-Cannons 85

The Cannons again showed plenty of spirit in the first half, going in level with Adelaide at 45-45. The 36ers then won the third quarter 27-16 and were able to cruise home. For Canberra coach Brett Flanigan, the team’s sixth straight loss only made the whispers about his future become even louder.

NBL Game Six: Townsville Crocodiles @Cairns Taipans
Final score: Crocs 103-Taipans 75

The Crocs, led by Andrew Goodwin (26 points), Robert Rose and Sam MacKinnon (each with 23 points) easily accounted for the Taipans and sent the large contingent of Townsville fans present home with smiles on their faces.

NBL Game Seven: Brisbane Bullets @West Sydney Razorbacks
Final score: Razors 94-Bullets 80

The Razors took revenge against the Bullets who had handed them their only loss of the season the previous week. The rafters of the Pig Pen rumbled as West Sydney led by as many as 23 early in the 4th quarter. Simon Kerle then sparked a Brisbane fight back which brought them to within seven points before the home team steadied and continued their undefeated run at home.

Sunday 31st October 1999

WNBL Game Five: Bulleen Melbourne Boomers @ Canberra Capitals
Final score: Capitals 80-Boomers 63

Both teams were missing their gun players: Canberra’s Lauren Jackson had strained tendons in a hand at training while Bulleen’s Michelle Timms was carrying a knee injury. The Capitals were inspired by Shelley Sandie who garnered 21 points and 12 rebounds to help her team to the top of the WNBL ladder.

Milestone Alert: Kristen Veal becomes only the eighth player in WNBL history to register a triple-double. Her stat line read: 15 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Monday 1st November 1999

NBL Game Eight: Perth Wildcats @Victoria Titans
Final score: Titans 75-Wildcats 74

In what would eventually prove to be a Grand Final preview, the Titans brand of hustling defence gave them the edge over their opponents. Perth had two chances to win the low-scoring encounter in the last ten seconds, but Stephen Black’s and Scott Fisher’s shots both rimmed out.

NBL Ladder:

Top Six:                                             Bottom Five:
Adelaide         (4-0)                            Perth             (3-4)      
Victoria           (5-1)                            Brisbane        (2-3)
Townsville      (4-1)                            Wollongong   (2-4)
West Sydney  (4-1)                            Cairns            (0-5)
Melbourne      (3-2)                            Canberra       (0-6)
Sydney           (3-3)

WNBL Ladder:

Top Four:                                 Bottom Four:
Canberra     (4-1)                     Sydney         (4-3)
Adelaide       (3-1)                     Perth           (2-2)
Bulleen         (3-2)                     Melbourne   (0-4)
Dandenong  (3-2)                     A.I.S.            (0-4)

A question for you, dear reader: can you name all 10 Sydney Kings imports between February 1998 and October 1999. No prizes available, but you will be name-checked in the next column.

Next week in “Back in the Day”: we’ll march to the drums of war and the whistles of the dogs. Also, a filmmaker will pass on and the Hawks continue their defence of the crown. That’s all next week in “Back in the Day”.

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.'