South Dragons are on fire in class and fitness
March 15, 2009
AS FAR as finals series go, the National Basketball League's centrepiece couldn't have provided more theatre. The off-court drama was engaging — the sledging, the press conference rants, the fines, the threats — it all generated a great amount of public interest.
And the on-court drama lived up to the hype.
Questions were asked about why there was such a significant swing from game to game, why the home court could be such an advantage.
The answer lies in the effectiveness of the two different styles of game that were facing off. When the South Dragons shut you down and get their transition game going, they're almost impossible to beat.
On the flip side, when the Tigers drag the game into a half-court slog and are firing from range, while getting Chris Anstey involved in the paint, they're perhaps the toughest team to beat in the league.
Interestingly, in this series, it has been the facets of the game that these teams are not renowned for that may have offered the greatest difference.
It has been easy to label the Dragons a defensive team, because they do it so well. But their ability to accumulate points this series, particularly when they have seemed to struggle from the field, has been critical.
Likewise, the Tigers have had to carry the tag of offensive juggernaut, of a team stacked with unparalleled offensive artillery, which is obviously justified. Yet, it was their efforts at the defensive end, particularly in the suffocating zone defence that they regularly threw at the Dragons, that strongly contributed to their two wins.
In the end though, one thing that really distinguished the Dragons was their physical condition. They play with a high level of intensity and they were able to finish strongly, especially in the latter part of the series.
Their second-half game has been inspiring and they simply had more run in game five. The Tigers often looked flat down the stretch this series. Even in games the Tigers had won, the Dragons had more runs late, pegging games back to within a handful of points in the final quarter.
In any league — and in any sport — if you have that sort of condition and you're in the mix at the business end of competition, you're going to give yourself every chance of running away with it. That was exactly what the Dragons achieved this season.
They were at the top of the table on more than just basketball — they had fitness covered as well, a testament to Nic Popovic and the conditioning department. It sets a fine example for the game of basketball in this country, as the professional league looks for reform and future development.
If we want a first-class competition, if we want first-class athletes who are competitive internationally, then let the Dragons be an example.
Artile sourced from The Age website, 15.03.09
The South Dragons are sponsored by ASCEND Proven Sports Proteins. Nic Popovic tells us regularly that his team can’t get enough of the ASCEND Elite products. It looks like others are starting to notice the difference they are making to his teams physical performace too!
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