THE Melbourne Tigers showed why they are expected to be one of the big improvers in the 2011-12 NBL season, defeating the Gold Coast Blaze 84-73 in Tuesday night’s pre-season trial match at USQ Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre.
An enthusiastic crowd turned up for its first taste of top-level basketball in more than a decade, with the Tigers bringing an almost full-strength squad.
The undermanned Blaze was able to stick with Melbourne for the first quarter, but the Tigers eventually pulled away from their opponents to lead 40-34 at the half.
Mountaineers guard James Legan showed he wouldn’t look out of place in an NBL outfit, scoring an astonishing 13 from 15 three-point shots during a half-time demonstration of one-on-one basketball.
But at the resumption of play it was all Melbourne, with import Ron Dorsey impressing for his new club as he led the Tigers’ scorers with 16 points.
Melbourne extended its lead out to as many as 21 points in the final quarter, but Gold Coast fought back in the dying minutes to reduce the final margin to just 11 points.
Gold Coast’s Tom Garlepp led all scorers with 20 points as he led the Blaze fightback, while Jason Cadee finished with 15 points.
New Blaze import Will Hudson showed he is going to be a force in the NBL this season, scoring 12 points for the Gold Coast only 24 hours after stepping off the plane from the United States.
Gold Coast coach Joey Wright was pleased with the effort his younger side showed against a first-string Melbourne rotation.
“We’ve still got two guys on tour with the Boomers and we had about three or four out injured, so there was a difference in quality,” Wright said.
“It’s great to come out here to Toowoomba and the guys really felt the support.”
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