Tigers Bite Down On Playoffs Race
It was the 5th of November, 2012. The Tigers were sitting dead last on the NBL table at a lowly 1-4. It looked a shoe-in that Chris Anstey’s boys were going to be in for a very long and painstaking season. It would take nothing short of a miracle for the lowly Tigers to get their season back on track. And then it happened.
That solitary Monday afternoon will be looked back with nothing but fondness for all Melbourne Tiger’s faithful, as the day they acquired former-NBA player and 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft Johnny Flynn; arguably the biggest coup in NBL history.
With only two import spots allowed on an NBL roster at the one time, the Tigers were forced to axe thirty-three year-old Kevin Braswell, Flynn’s struggling countryman. He was the logical choice over in-form 208cm Forward/Center Seth Scott for obvious reasons.
Suddenly, the season was lit with new hope and a buzz began to fill the Melbourne air for the first time in a long while. They couldn’t wait to show off their new signing to the league that has seldom seen many NBA stars grace their hardboards, let alone in their prime. And the way that Johnny Flynn opened his campaign, it was obvious that he was ready to play ball.
Hosting the Adelaide 36ers, who had just as much trouble finding W’s as the early form Tigers, dominated the entire 40 minutes as their new poster-boy notched up a solid 12PTS/8RBS/7AST in just over 26 minutes in the teams 96-66 smashing. Although he was the third-highest scorer for his team with a somewhat miserable FG% of 24 (perhaps due to lack of solid game time throughout an injury-plagued couple of years that saw him in the NBL in the first place), Flynn was clearly the most dangerous player on the court, oozing with confidence and creating more opportunities than anyone else on the court.
Since then, Flynn has improved his PPG numbers to 17.3, good for 3rd in the Nation. Couple that with his 6.3APG, good for 2nd in the nation, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the MVP candidate.
Although the Tigers still haven’t cemented themselves in the Top 4, they’re really looking as dangerous as they have all season. After 17 games (and 11 remaining), the Tigers are a semi-respectable 7-10 (6-6 since Flynn’s arrival), sitting one game out of the Top 4 with one game in hand over the Wollongong Hawks.
Their next clash is on Sunday the 3rd of February in Melbourne against 6th placed Cairns Taipans. If the Tigers are to really push for a Top 4 position, this is their time to do so.
And the boys know it, too.