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36ers at the Ent Cent? It's a winner

BRILLIANT! The Adelaide 36ers have gambled and won by moving their NBL home games to Adelaide Entertainment Centre as 6,366 fans - more than their average attendance of 6,100 last season at Titanium Security Arena - tonight supported a preseason fixture against Melbourne United.

Let's be clear here - that was 6,366 at a preseason game!

On Tuesday in their ancestral home at the Arena, the 36ers embarrassed NZ Breakers 93-67 in front of about 600.

Comparatively, the nights were chalk and cheddar.

Tonight basketball - or entertainment fans - enthusiastically voted with their feet and watched on as United caned the Sixers 100-91. Don't let the final score fool you.

Melbourne was ahead by more than 20, did not suit Casey Prather and only played David Barlow sparingly, the big fella probably still running out the rust from the FIBA World Cup.

Late baskets by Jack McVeigh allowed the crowd to find voice and to leave the venue with some measure of hope toward the coming season.

But there was a stark difference in their playing styles, Melbourne efficient, moving the ball selflessly and finding the open man, Adelaide heavily reliant on individual brilliance.

As awful as the 36ers made the Breakers look on Tuesday, that's how bad Melbourne made Adelaide look, though not as often, nor for anywhere near as sustained a period.

And there was no in-fighting or shenanigans from the Sixers, unlike the Breakers, who were up to more of the same in their loss last night in Sydney against the Kings. There will be changes in this NZ team, of that you can be sure.

Melbourne drew great service from Melo Trimble, but Shawn Long had a quiet game after taking a whack to the ribs early, then battling foul troubles later.

The book on Shea Ili in the past may have been to leave him open from the perimeter but he's clearly been working on it and repeatedly made the 36ers pay for leaving him unguarded from range.

Again the local officiating left a lot to be desired. It is as if they know the rules but do not understand the game or have any real feel for it. McVeigh copping a midcourt foul when an opponent tripped and fell into him was a prime example.

Ahead 58-46 at halftime, Melbourne was exploiting Adelaide's defensive rotations and that didn't stop after the interval. A late 13-0 run by the 36ers sparked life into the contest after United led by as many as 24.

A United timeout followed by a Trimble triple restored order for Melbourne.

* * *

FORGET potentially struggling with difficult sight lines at AEC. You can see the court well from anywhere.

No, the venue does not have the intimacy of the Arena but, as the 36ers have been pumping, it IS the next step in the club's "evolution".

The atmosphere was lacking, but that could be put down to it being a preseason game, it being fairly one-sided after quarter time or the 36ers' inability on the night to do much that would get a fan out of his/her seat.

The scorecube over the court is spectacular and the sound quality - as it should be - is excellent.

Make no mistake, this move is a winner for the club and for the NBL's growing profile.


That scorecube needs to offer a facility for the fans that shows players' points and fouls. Fans need to be able to glance at the cube and check the foul or points status of anyone in the game. If the club could do that at Apollo Stadium 40-odd years ago, then it has to be able to provide that service now, surely.

Also, the game-night presentation needs a complete and thorough overhaul, top to bottom.

This is the Adelaide ENTERTAINMENT Centre, so ditching its outdated and yawn-inducing rehash of kids pulling on large Sixers uniforms to try and score a basket first is very much necessary. It reeks of yesterday, if not last century.

The dancing girls looked great and should have spent more time on the floor instead of at the baseline.

When Melbourne United hosts South East Melbourne on Thursday to tip off the NBL regular season, the 36ers need to have their entertainment gurus present to record how it is done. Then they should head to RAC Arena in Perth for tomorrow-week's Wildcats game and see how they do it.

Fingers crossed the club didn't want to go all-out tonight for a preseason fixture and already is across how important the entertainment portion of the game-night package now becomes.

Fans, old and new, will come in number to the AEC to check out the new entrant in the state's entertainment offerings.

To keep them coming consistently, you either need a great and spectacular basketball team or a game-night presentation second-to-none.

Have both and they will be pulling out the "Sold Out" sign more often than not.

Sep 27

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.