Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fast And Furious At Xmas For The Crocs

YOU can trust me when I say there will not be too many eggnogs going down the hatch of Crocodiles' players and coaching staff in the next couple of days.

The fact is if we want to be serious NBL championship contenders, the Crocodiles' yule time celebrating will need to be as speedy and efficient as Santa's house visits.

Yes, we'll all endeavour to have an enjoyable time with family and friends, but the second the clock strikes midnight on Friday, it will be back to business as usual.

After we fell to a pair of disappointing losses last weekend, particularly to the Sydney Spirit, the Christmas-New Year period takes on huge importance for us.

Take our eyes off the ball for a second by getting overly caught up in the festive spirit and all of a sudden you can be free-falling down the ladder.

That's the reality of this time of year – I have seen it happen before to many teams – and with the NBL as close as ever this season, the repercussions could be as deadly.

One win or one loss could be the difference between battling for third and fourth spot – which guarantees a home final – or potentially missing out on the finals altogether. With 10 games to go in the 2008/09 regular season, we're determined to avoid the latter.

Townsville in particular have a lot of games over this holiday period, starting with the always difficult road trip to Perth on Boxing Day for a December 27 clash.

We then head home to The Swamp to battle NBL leaders the South Dragons.

They are two difficult assignments, particularly travelling to Challenge Stadium where we haven't produced the greatest record in recent times.

Our last game there in November saw us on the end of a 37-point hammering.

But the reality is, if we want to be considered one of the better teams – up there with South, New Zealand, Melbourne, Perth – we need to be able to win these tough games.

These are the sides we will be playing in the playoffs and hopefully challenging for the NBL championship trophy, so rather than fear the trips, I see them as a positive.

We have already proven we can beat these teams when we are playing at our best, so if we can repeat the dose, it can act as a real momentum builder.

Although I have indicated the team will brush over Christmas, I think our day away from the court tomorrow will have its benefits to the remainder of our campaign also.

I'll still be thinking about basketball – that just comes with the job – but sitting around with family, ripping into some ham and pulling out the bat and ball for some backyard cricket all proves a nice distraction – a mental refresher. The key, as I said, is to enjoy it but not get too distracted.

You cn read my article every Wednesday in the Townsville Bulletin.

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