Despite a slow start, the MUBC Men recovered to salvage some pride from their preseason matchup against the MUBC Legends at the sports center yesterday. The Black Angels showed glimpses that indicated to all watching that they are well on their way to contending for the division 1 title in 2013, but were ultimately unable to close the gap, with the experienced legends team holding on for a 2 point victory as the Sports Center got its first taste of Big V action for the year.
Initially, a legends match had not been scheduled for this year, but when Coburg pulled out of their scheduled practice match, a replacement fixture was hastily organised. Prominent former Black Angels such as Scott Cuffe, Liam Santamaria, Dan Goldsworthy, Smoke, James Fidler and Chris Neal were happy to suit up in their old venue once again, while Nick Masunda, who has joined the Black Angels after returning from Queensland, also played for the Legends, along with more recent Black Angels Tom Leong and Matt Bardet and tournament affiliate Jimmy Todd. The MUBC Divison 1 team were missing Tom Stephens, Matt Anderson and center Tim Clarke, but took the oppotunity to provide their young players with some playing time.
Early in the match, the Legends took control, holding the Black Angels defensively, while picking apart some occasionally lacklustre defence at the other end with a series of pin-point pases. Cuffe scored from everywhere in the first quarter, while Masunda provided some highlight reel plays, twice getting well above the rim in traffic before finishing with a deft left-handed touch that left spectators in awe. However, the Black Angels were able to settle into a rhythm defensively, and slowly began to get their transition game going - and in doing so, showed why they are going to be a high-scoring, entertaining team to watch this season. With Stefan Pomasan, Jason Conway and Jake Philpott dangerous from the perimeter, and the active Jovan Bojanic and Mason Clarke-Jones patrolling the offensive glass, the uni team went on a run that brought them to within a point at half time, as the Legends appeared to run out of steam in the humid conditions.
After the break, the Legends once again took control, some tweaked rotations helping them build a handy 14 point lead entering the final quarter. The Black Angels once again rallied, applying a full court press and hustling their way back into the match. A couple of late steals reduced the margin to a single basket, but it was all too late, and the legends held on for a thrilling victory.
While the match never scaled any great heights, and certainly showed the Black Angels some areas to work on, it was well received by an appreciative crowd, and certainly whetted the appetites of all those involved for the season proper. The Black Angels will conduct their final tune-ups before the season begins at the Ballart tournament in two weeks time, before kicking off the season with a series of matches on the road as the Sports Center Redevelopment is completed. The Black Angels begin their season at Altona on Sunday March 18th, and play their home opener on Sunday April 7th against the Whittlesea Pacers.