NBL: Postgame analysis on Finals Game 4 – 11 Mar 09 Melbourne Tigers vs Crazy John South Dragons

It was my first time catching an away game for the Dragons, and to make it even more memorable – I was going to be watching Game 4 of the NBL finals on the home court of the Melbourne Tigers. The State Netball Hockey Centre, where the Dragons lost 88-83 to the Tigers in Game 2.

Could the Dragons work a miracle and trump the Tigers on their home ground? One could not help but wonder. I must say though, the sudden downpour before the game must have dampened the mood of many a fervent fan (and their shoes too).

The Cage turned out to be much smaller than Hisense Arena, and gave a cosier atmosphere. I was seated with a whole bunch of Dragons fans, and the sea of black made up a quarter of the total seats. The Tigers fans were greater in number, enthusiastic, loud and well-armed with their clappers. And did I mention the balloons they were waving around in the second half? Talk about anti-free throw strategies, NBA-style.

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The game
The match began in ernest, and it was anything but spectacular. The Dragons were playing horribly in the first quarter, only managing to score after nearly five minutes.

Worthington’s energetic plays in Game 3 seemed to have vanished, and the Dragons failed miserably from the three point line. Burston, who had done well in the previous games, seemed to be a little lost in offense. Horvath was definitely not pulling his weight in defense. He failed in switching defense on the Tigers with his teammates, and gave plenty of open shots to the Tigers. Needless to say, leaving the Tigers unmarked on their home court was tantamount to suicide.


Ebi on the move, via nbl.com.au.

The Dragons never managed to retake control of the game, and their full court press came about too late, ending with 108-95. Perhaps they would have fared better if they had stuck to using Smith and Durden. Instead of focusing on their outside game, the duo charged inwards and cut up the zone, managing to drop the Tigers’ lead below 10 points. I must admit, at that point it seemed hopeful. Had they persisted in their efforts and had Burston/Horvath benched, things might have changed.

I must applaud Anstey’s composure in this game, however. He did not respond in any way, despite the racuous calls of “ELBOWWWWWWWW!!” from some Dragons fans. He was simply magnificent in his shooting consistency. Free throws, turnaround jumpers, three pointers, he did it all. The Dragons simply failed to stop him, period.

Had the NBL tribunal forced him into the one game suspension after the elbow incident with Carter on Game 3, things would have been different, and the Dragons would have walked away with a 3-1 win. The claim about lifting the suspension based on his clean record is utter BS; it’s just like saying a robber should be found innocent on his first mugging because he was a good boy before that. “So we’ll let you off this time, and double the jail time if we find you doing it again.” Does that make sense to you?

Crosswell, who had been lacking in accuracy in the Hisense games, came alive and scored plenty of mid-range jumpers as well. Barlow and Ebi contributed much to the game with their shots too. Not to mention the fact that they had great defense in this game; the half court press simply killed the Dragons’ outside game, and forced them to penetrate.

I remembered cringing whenever the Tigers hit a well-placed shot, or got another offensive rebound and converted the basket. Whatever progress that was made in chasing the lead, vanished yet again. They had Anstey in the paint, and plenty of ready shooters on the outside. The Dragons on the other hand, were failing in their threes and could only hope to score a two, and create a turnover with their defense. Everyone would be watching the Tigers’ shot clock count down.. and a foul would be committed by some Dragon or other. There goes the defense, poof.

And that was the way the story went. Off to Game 5, crap.

Related document(s):
Game scoresheet (via nbl.com.au)
Tigers force a fifth match (via nbl.com.au)

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Australia IELTS exam: Tips on acing the paper

When it comes to applying for residency, taking the Australia IELTS could be one nightmare that just never ends. For others who are fairly competent, it is just one out of a gazillion irritating details to take care of.

I took my Australia IELTS (General Training) in February this year at Hawthorn-Melbourne, and cleared it with relative ease. Residency requirements usually ask for an average of 7.0 in all areas (listening, reading, writing, speaking), and I got an average of 8.5 which wasn’t too bad.

Here’s some tips on things you should look out for in the test.

Listening

The listening component is already a killer in itself, as they do not repeat the dialogue and you only get one chance to listen and answer the questions right. Add the problem of having to dialogues in different accents, and you could be in trouble if you’re not used to it.

I’m not really in Hawthorn-Melbourne’s sales department and I most definitely do not get commission for saying this, but if you’re taking your Australia IELTS in Victoria, you could do no worse than take it there. Why?

One main reason would be the quality of the speakers in the test room. They have built-in speakers along the ceilings of the room, so everyone is able to hear the dialogue being broadcast clearly, regardless of their seating position.

Points to consider:

  • Read the questions through before the dialogue begins, have an expectation of the answers you are looking for.
  • Hold your pencil ready and be prepared to write the answers down as they come.

Reading

This is basically a piece of cake, basically you read several passages and answer written questions. If your English comprehension skills are fine, you shouldn’t have any worries with this. Read more newspapers and books if you want to improve on it.

Writing

There are two components to this section, letter writing and essay writing.

Letter writing is easy because you are allowed to write in an informal style. Note: informal does not mean you are allowed to use internet lingo e.g. ORLY WTH LOL ROFL WTG FTW (and so on). Keep it simple, stick to the requirements and you should be fine.

Essay writing is slightly tougher, because you are required to write in an argumentative style. This means having to come up with advantages/disadvantages on the topic posed, and to present your points clearly. I recommend a ton of practice on this, no shit. Learn to understand the topic and structure your essay quickly before writing it down. Time is of the essence.

Points to consider:

  • How do you start the essay off?
    Write an introductory header about the topic posed.
  • Why is it better?
    List them down.
  • Why is it not better?
    List these down as well.
  • What is your stand on things?
    Tip: you do not need to take an absolute stand, you could always “agree to a certain extent”, which allows you to go both ways.

Speaking

Speaking is another tough cookie in this test. Unexpected topics always appear, and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for things like this. If you know that you are weak in this area, there is nothing to do but to practice, practice and practice. Make yourself talk to people in proper English all the time. Practice in front of the mirror if you have to.

That’s all!

That’s about all I have for all the Australia IELTS takers out there, so good luck guys and I hope my tips helped.

 

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NBL: Postgame analysis on Finals Game 3 – 08 Mar 09 Melbourne Tigers vs Crazy John South Dragons

It was a lousy Friday evening as I tracked the live stats on NBL’s website, and watched Game 2 close to a 83-88 score. My hopes of a 3-0 run in this season’s finals poofed right then. I was still looking forward to Game 3 though, since the Dragons always played to their best on the home court at Hisense Arena. And of course, the $45 seat helped somewhat. I am so looking forward to the next season, when I can actually get a season ticket and plonk myself down with a much closer view of the court.

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The game
The Dragons started out strong in the first quarter, with Worthington visibly playing all out. He was running around the court, grabbing both offensive and defensive rebounds, and attacking hard as well. Tremell Darden made several great clutch shots as well. Combined with the rest of the Dragons and some great defense work, it turned into a comfortable 13 point lead by halftime.

With that being said, the Tigers were obviously not performing at their peak, which was another reason for the huge point difference. Offensive boards were being guarded closely by the Dragons, which decreased the number of second chances for the Tigers somewhat. They did make a run for it in the second quarter, but were beaten back by the Dragons’ consistent scoring and their own missed attempts from the three line.


A video of the game pre-tipoff and some choice highlights.

Donta Smith and Tremell Darden made huge moments in the game tonight, bringing the crowd to a roar with their spectacular dunks; one never fails to admire the energy and wow factor that a dunk brings into the game.

Fouls often decide the flow of the game in a big way. Burston, who had a good game tonight in points and rebounds was dangerously close to being fouled out towards the end, and the Dragons had to field Horvath, who had not seen much action in the finals so far.

And it seemed like one key point of the Dragons’ strategy was to bait fouls from Barlow, who was ejected in Game 1 on foul trouble. Barlow had three fouls early in the game, and sat out quite a bit of it before coming back, only to hit five fouls. He finished the game in the end with no problems, however.


(via theage.com.au by Sebastian Costanzo)

If only it could be said for Anstey. An unexpected tussle between Vukona and Anstey in the third quarter saw both players being ejected for unsportsmanlike behaviour; apparently Anstey was angry enough to rough up Carter twice within thirty seconds, which led to the referee’s call.


Look at 1:53 onwards.

This was a serious blow to the trailing Tigers, and the combined efforts of Ebi/Barlow/Thomas were simply not enough to secure a win tonight.

I’m hoping that the series finishes in Game 4 before I head back to Singapore. Go Dragons!

Related document(s):
Score stats, play by play (via fibalivestats.com)
Dragons down Tigers in Game Three (via nbl.com.au)
Melee may be series turning point (via theage.com.au)
Anstey out as South soars – excellent writeup by Boti Nagy (via news.com.au)

NBL: Postgame analysis on Finals Game 1 – 05 Mar 09 Melbourne Tigers vs Crazy John South Dragons

It’s the first time I caught an NBL game on a weekday, and dragging myself to Hisense Arena after work was no joke. Add the bloody gloomy weather to the equation, and it certainly took my mood down a notch or two. All of that vanished upon entering the stadium, because I could feel the atmosphere come alive with anticipation of the NBL finals at long last. Tigers versus Dragons, players and fans alike.

Not forgetting the fact that I had the Dragonflies to look forward to, especially that cute blond dancer – great eyecandy! I guess being blond does stand out in a sea of otherwise dark-haired ladies (that’s probably why she dyed her hair).


I’m talking about the pretty lady in the bottom left, in case you were wondering.

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The game
The first quarter ended with 21-21, not unlike the Dragons’ usual strategy of holding out and gaining the lead slowly. The first few minutes saw the Dragons dominating the court with a 5-0 run, until Ebi Ere broke the impasse with a trey. The score began evening out after that. Anstey played great in the paint, drawing defenders in before passing the ball out to his waiting teammates for an open three. In comparison to the last Tigers v Dragons match, the Tigers toughened up their defense considerably this time round.

Surprisingly, the second quarter Tigers lineup began without Anstey. Their confidence was well-placed however, as they managed to force the Dragons into calling for a timeout with their overwhelming defense. The gravity of the situation apparently required Gibson and Wortho’s return into the court after that. Thomas was superb in this quarter, managing to shut Ingles down and score with some great shots. Barlow contributed with drawing fouls from his post ups, and one very noticeable change was the presence of Kendall as the point guard. In contrast to Crosswell, Kendall’s physique comes across as a rough and ready profile – all ready to bash the defending guard away and carry the ball across the court.

Throughout the game, there were some unusual calls made by the referees. For example, a foul at 4:25 that Crosswell apparently committed on Gibson which was awarded two free throws. The referee must have seen something that I did not, because all I saw was just normal play. If anything, Gibson should have been called for the foul instead. There was another one at 47.6s which went against Carter that sent the entire stadium booing, yet another of those odd calls.

And halftime saw a tie of 45-45, with Wortho at three fouls. Needless to say, Wortho has not fouled out in any home game so far, and was unlikely to do so. One point of note was the increased scoring from Wortho, quite unlike previous games where he was content to sit back and allow his teammates to do the job. Clearly this game called for greater efforts on his part, and he delivered. Another interesting fact was that Ingles remained in the court for most of the game, which was not the case in previous matchups. Goorjian clearly had faith in Ingles’ ability to deliver.

The third quarter was a constant tug of war, with the Dragons struggling to rally back. They were held in check however, by Anstey’s timely contributions. And it passed into 60-63 at the end, with the Tigers leading. A surprisingly low score IMO, as the Dragons had always managed to bring their game scores into the 90s so far. This spoke much about the tenacity of defense on both sides.


Joe Ingles delivers in Game 1.

The final quarter was where everything finally changed for the Dragons. Ingles made great defense, which led to a turnover. Wortho continued with excellent scoring, and delivered a brilliant alleyoop dunk to Ingles. Donta Smith brought his energy into the game, charging into the zone and delivering great offense. All of these combined to bring the Dragons into their element at long last, grabbing control of the game. The Tigers fought back with back to back three pointers: Anstey with a turnaround baseline trey as the shot clock expired. Ebi with another baseline three, which Smith equalised with ease. Anstey delivered yet again right after, and Crosswell contributed with two points, which closed the game at 82 – 81 with 2:39 remaining, Dragons in the lead.

That was as far as the Tigers went, and things fell apart subsequently. A series of calls on the Tigers gave the Dragons several free throws, which Gibson, Burston and Wortho took to regain their lead. The Tigers failed to score after that, and the gap finally widened to a 12 point lead, with the Dragons in possession in the final seconds.

Game 1 – it was a close fight but once again, the Dragons prevailed on their home court. Will they sweep the series this season?

Related article(s):
Match scoresheet (via southdragons.com)
Dragons Draw First Blood (via southdragons.com)

Sony PS3: The Force Unleashed – Clearing the damn Star Destroyer stage

For the uninitiated: The Force Unleashed is Lucasarts’ latest offering in the line of Star Wars games.


(via gamediva)

One thing about the game, it makes you feel like tossing people off bridges is fun. And pumping individuals full of Sith lightning is acceptable. Damn, but it’s addictive.


The one gripe I had about the game though, was that damn stage where you had to pull a Star Destroyer down.

Sounds exciting? Not really. I took almost one hour to clear the stage, and that was after I read hints from other gaming forums on how this part should be cleared.

Without further bs, here’s the short and simple on yanking that destroyer down.

  • You will see a horde of TIE fighters trying (emphasis on trying) to blast you into pieces. Hide behind the left (or right) pillar, end of blaster barrage. Jump up and Force Lightning the bastards when they close in.
  • Operation pull-the-ship-down starts. This is most important: IGNORE THE DAMN CONTROLLER PROMPTS! Just twiddle with your thumbsticks and get the Star Destroyer aligned center and pointed towards you, and shove the thumbsticks up.
  • The red area turns green, and it’s time to haul that mofo down. Push your thumbsticks down repeatedly.
  • TIE fighters return to kick your ass. Jump away and kick theirs instead. Return to yanking after that.
  • Rinse and repeat until Star Destroyer bites dust.

Here’s the video demo if you couldn’t figure out what I was talking about.

Happy gaming, and may the Force be with you.

NBL: Postgame analysis on Semisfinals – 28 Feb 09 Townsville Crocodile vs Crazy John South Dragons

The crowd for today’s match at HiSense Arena was small, to say the least. One of the contributing factors might be the Foxtel Sports coverage – instant replays, better camera work: nice! I had seating in the premium section, which made for a much better view of the game. Needless to say, the Dragons delivered as always on a home game, and swept their way into the finals this night.

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The game
The game began with a tie in the first quarter, but quickly deteriorated as the Dragons gained the lead by halftime. #15 Rhys Carter performed extremely well in the first half with his scoring, with #1 Adam Gibson and #7 Joe Ingles contributing in the three pointer range. Although the Crocs were holding the Dragons down properly initially, the lack of scoring and frequent turnovers in the later game proved fatal.

Skipper #31 John Rillie failed to score with his quick-release jumpers in the second half, and there were no inside games to be found from the rest of the team as well, unlike the first half where there were scoring from within the paint and out from downtown as well. #6 Cameron Tovey performed admirably in defense throughout the game, but one wonders why he only began actively driving into the basket late in the game. His points would have helped even things up a great deal. There were many instances in the game where #75 Rosell Ellis was unable to distribute the ball around the court, either due to a lack of off-the-ball movement or the tight defense the Dragons were employing. Despite #8 Corey Williams’ laudable attempts to even the game out, it just wasn’t enough.


Ingles driving his way past. (via nbl.com.au)

The Dragons on the other hand, were visibly scoring consistently, with five members scoring double digits (Gibson, Carter, Worthington, Ingles, Smith). This factor, coupled with the Dragons’ consistent defense (and turnovers) were probably the most important reasons for their victory tonight. The Dragons are good, period. The probable exception was center #44 Nick Horvath, who had minimal playing time and poor performance under the basket. Perhaps he was not in peak playing condition?

Chant of the night from more vocal spectators: “TOOOOOVEEEEEYYYYYYYYY!!!” peppered with occasional insults like “S**k C**k! G**B**!” I seriously don’t know why Tovey was being badmouthed, but total sympathy to him.

On another note, the Melbourne Tigers have won over the New Zealand Breakers, so it’s going to be Tigers vs Dragons yet again but in the finals this time. Time to get them tickets on Monday!

Related article(s):
Match scoresheet (via crocodiles.com.au)
Dragons through to finals (via nbl.com.au)
Tigers end Breakers dream (via nbl.com.au)