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Crocs win again over hapless 36ers

By Chris Pike
5 January 2013 03:47AM EST

THE different directions that Townsville and Adelaide are heading in the NBL continued on Friday night with the Crocs recording a resounding 75-61 victory over the 36ers at Adelaide Arena.

The Crocodiles have now won five straight games since losing the first 10 of the season to be back in the playoff hunt at 5-10 with 13 games of the season remaining.

Even more remarkable is that four of those five victories since November 30 last year have come against the 36ers so the Crocs have resurrected their season on the back of Adelaide, while the Sixers' can point to theirs falling apart at the hands of Townsville.

Adelaide came into the season with high hopes following the signings of Adam Gibson, Luke Schenscher, Jason Cadee and Anthony Petrie to join an already solid Australian contingent including Stephen Weigh, Daniel Johnson and Nathan Crosswell.

Things started off pretty well also with the 36ers winning five of their first eight games, and after back-to-back wins over the Perth Wildcats they were sitting pretty at 5-3 full of confidence.

Now seven losses later, the Sixers sit on 5-10 and while that is the same record of the Crocodiles who are right in the playoff mix, any turnaround in fortunes looks a long way off for coach Marty Clarke and his 36ers team.

Townsville's run of five straight wins has coincided with the arrival of 7'2 centre Luke Nevill. After being a key contributor for the Wildcats last season, Nevill headed to the NBA and narrowly missed earning a final roster spot with the Indiana Pacers.

That put him on the open market again and the Crocs came calling after their disastrous start, and Nevill has proven the perfect man down low for Townsville and the ideal partner in crime for point guard Gary Ervin.

The pair were once again instrumental in Friday night's win in Adelaide with Ervin, a former NBL MVP, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Nevill with 21 points and six boards.

The 36ers simply had no answer for the pair and they are emerging as the best point guard-big man combination in the NBL, and could very well lead the Crocs to an unlikely playoff appearance after the disastrous 0-10 beginning.

Remarkably, the Crocs are closing in on fifth position on the ladder and are just three and four wins respectively behind the second-placed Wildcats, second-placed Wollongong Hawks and fourth-placed Sydney Kings.

The Crocs have a tough four-game stretch coming up against New Zealand, Wollongong, Perth and Sydney, but three or four wins in that run could very well have Townsville inside the top-four.

Nevill is obviously enjoying his 5-0 start to his stint in Townsville with the Crocs and especially his developing partnership with Ervin.

"We've done our scouts on them and seem to have a good match-up with Adelaide. We know that every game we have to come out strong and make an impression early on," Nevill said.

"I've tried to do that myself and the last few games I've come out strong to give our team a good lift early on, and we've been able to go on from there.

"We have a great inside-out game with shooters who can knock down shots and when I take a bit of a break, our guys are hitting threes and spreading the floor, which leaves me open in the key way when I come back in the game.

"He (Ervin) weaves his way inside the key way and kicks it into me, or out to other guys and he's a great playmaker for us."

Adelaide is far from out of the running in terms of their record, but form-wise it looks hard to see where the turnaround will come from after seven straight defeats, and a game against the Sydney Kings in Sydney to come on Saturday.

It was a disastrous shooting night for the 36ers on Friday night with the Sixers managing just 22-of-74 from the field at 30 per cent, and 5-of-27 from three-point territory at 19 per cent.

Big man Johnson was the worst offender going at 4-of-20 from the field in his 13 points and nine rebounds.

Weigh also shot 2-of-9, Cadee 2-of-7, Petrie 1-of-6 and debutant import Scott Christopherson an unimpressive 0-of-5 and 0-of-4 from three-point land despite being touted as a specialist shooter from beyond the arc.

Point guard Gibson was one Sixer to have a good individual night with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, but he's struggling for answers as to what is going wrong.

"We do all the work and we bust our arses to get in shape, and all the game preparation is on point, but we just can't seem to finish off in games," Gibson said.

"I think we shot 19 per cent from the three tonight and against a team like Townsville that isn’t going to get it done.

"Personally I'm trying to be more aggressive. Myself and Jason Cadee need to do a better job of getting our bigs the ball, and trying to get everyone to be confident and play the way they play.

"We are professional athletes so we should be able to come out and put up points, and believe in ourselves. A couple of guys are doubting themselves when they have no reason to, so if we can pick those guys up and get a full team effort we should be right."

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