Anstey's jaw a worry for NBL's Tigers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Anstey's jaw a worry for NBL's Tigers

By Adrian Warren 30/12/2007 07:42:48 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Al Westover hopes to have key centre Chris Anstey available for two crunch NBL games this week against Gold Coast and Sydney which could have a major bearing on their top two hopes.

The Tigers (14-5) enhanced their prospects of a top two finish with post-Christmas wins against two other finals aspirants, 98-89 at home to Cairns (10-9) and 107-106 away to Perth (9-8).

Westover was sweating on the result of x-rays on Anstey, who suffered a jaw injury in the game against the Wildcats.

Westover was hoping there was no break or dislocation and that Anstey would be able to play at home against fourth-placed Gold Coast (11-8) and away to ladder-leader Sydney (17-2) on Friday.

Brisbane (14-6) stayed in the hunt for a top two spot by rebounding from a shock 110-105 away loss to West Sydney (9-12) with a 107-97 home win over Gold Coast.

Like Melbourne against Perth, Sydney (17-2) had to overcome a significant deficit before inflicting a 103-94 overtime home win over New Zealand (10-9).

The Kings recorded their fifth straight win despite making seven fewer field goals than the Breakers, but outscored them 37-10 from the free throw line.

Both Westover and his Sydney counterpart Brian Goorjian acknowledged the importance of Friday's clash.

Sydney already holds a season split over Melbourne and third-placed Brisbane and a victory over the Tigers would give them a stranglehold on top spot.

"That would cut the season down to 10 more games and give us a really big cushion," Goorjian said.

Westover believed the game was more important for his side than Sydney.

"They are probably in a lot better position than we are, it would help our situation dramatically as we're trying to make the top two position and it's probably a bigger game for us."

Both coaches stressed Sydney would be potentially facing a stronger Tigers team than last time, with new import Sean Lampley displaying good form and the versatile and valuable Dave Thomas back from a long-term injury.

Lampley starred with 27 points against Cairns and added 17 against Perth, while Thomas went from scoring two points in 11 minutes against Cairns to 10 points in 13 minutes against Perth.

"I think Melbourne is a lot better now than the team we played earlier in the year, with Lampley and Dave Thomas," Goorjian said.

Westover said Lampley would continue to improve as he got more familiar with Melbourne's structure, while Thomas played a lot better against Perth than he did against Cairns.

The four Queensland teams will participate in a couple of important New Year's Eve games on Monday.

Cairns host Brisbane and Townsville (11-10) entertain Gold Coast.

The Crocodiles suffered an upset 96-74 away loss to cash-strapped Wollongong (5-14).

Adelaide (9-10) remained in the play-off hunt with a 119-114 away victory over struggling South Dragons (4-15), who crashed to a sixth straight loss.

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