The pressure on players and officials ahead
of tonight’s third (and possibly deciding) NBL final is starting to
show. Down 2-0 after losing on Sunday night, the
Sydney Kings have been lobbying hard for a better deal from the referees, who they
say have let the Tigers’ get away with being overly physical.

“I shouldn’t really say what I think [about
the referees] because if I say what I think I’ll go to jail,” was how Kings
coach Brian Goorjian summed up the referees’ performance
in game two. The League has since replaced Sunday night’s trio for tonight’s
game, but denies it was entirely performance related.

If you believe Goorjian’s view of events,
Melbourne Tiger Dave Thomas started it all when he said his team had
experienced “holding and
grabbing” in game one, which Goorjian says changed the way the
refs officiated his players in game two. Well, Goorjian was so impressed with
Thomas’s success in influencing the umpires, he’s now using the same technique,
yesterday detailing the crimes committed against his players during the final
series so far.

“We have a guy
with 10 stitches in his face; we had CJ laid out in the back court,” Goorjian
said, before alerting reporters (or should that be refs) to the rampaging Chris
Anstey, who has scored heavily and rebounded well in the first two games, and
who Goorjian would love to shut down for tonight’s encounter. “”I thought
Anstey had four fouls at half-time and played the game in total comfort,” he
said.

Even Kings captain
Jason Smith has had his say. “If they are going to call ticky-touchwood fouls,
let’s get serious, let’s even the playing field. We just want to be able to
fight,” he told Fox Sports.

If the Tigers win, it
will be their first national championship since 1997. If the increasingly noisy
Kings win, it will keep their chances of a fourth straight national
championship alive. And if the last couple of days are any indication, the refs
don’t stand any chance of victory at all.

Peter Fray

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