KILSYTH put on a sell-out crowd for NBL club Melbourne Tigers last night.
The Tigers played US college Washington State at Kilsyth Sports Centre in their first pre-season game losing 75-74.
New Tigers signing Chris Goulding had a shot to win the game on the buzzer but it rolled off the basket as time expired.
Considering the Tigers were just three days into on-court training the match was a very early glimpse of new coach Chris Anstey’s team with only four of the team’s contracted players on court along with several try-out players.
But despite being underdone the Tigers pushed the Cougars to the limit leading at half time before falling behind in the third term.
The Cougars led by seven points with three minutes remaining before the Tigers stormed back into the match behind some inspired play for Kilsyth’s own Auryn Macmillan, who was filling in for the Tigers with the forward making key baskets in the final minutes and producing some huge blocks.
Goulding (20 points) was fouled taking a three-point shot with 40 seconds to go and he made all three shots to give the Tigers a one-point lead.
Yet the Cougars found a way to break open the Tigers’ defence to again take the lead before Tigers forward Tommy Greer finished an alley-oop to snatch back the advantage.
With just seconds left in the game the Cougars missed their shot at the basket only for Cougars forward Brock Motum (21 points), who hails from Queensland, to grab the rebound and force in the eventual match-winner with three seconds left.
Goulding took a hand-off from Macmillan and drove towards the hoop letting a running shot go as the buzzer went only to watch it rim-out.
Macmillan said he was confident the show would fall.
“I thought the shot was going down,” he said.
“I was going to tip it in but the buzzer had gone, if he had of left his hand a little earlier I was a chance to get a hand on it.”
Macmillan praised Kilsyth supporters for turning out for the game and bringing so much noise.
Macmillan’s stat line was impressive with 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocks while new Tigers point guard Nate Tomlinson showed plenty of promise with 14 points and five assists.
Motum said his teammates, many of who hadn’t travelled overseas before, would learn a lot from the game.
The Cougars proved relentless on defence and in physical contests with Motum earning the ire of Greer and others for his niggling tactics in the second half.
“It was good to play against men, against professionals,” he said.
“We got to experience that physical style of basketball.
“It was a great atmosphere and good to come out with a win in this pressured environment.”
Motum said he enjoyed the chance to mix it with NBL level players.
“I just try to play hard and I want my opponents to play hard as well but once the game is over we are all good,” he said.
Devonte Lacy had 16 points for the Cougars while Reggie Moore added 11 points and six assists.
The Tigers will return to Kilsyth to face fellow NBL club Wollongong Hawks on August 31.
The NBL season tips off on October 5.