DESPITE the wealth of NBL talent on show at Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre yesterday, the biggest cheer of the game was reserved for a couple of hometown heroes.
Charles Dickerson and Matthew Ebneter took the court to a raucous reception in the last quarter of the pre-season clash between the Townsville Crocodiles and Sydney Kings.
The Mountaineers players have been training with the Crocs for the past few days and learning what it takes to make it at NBL level.
And with Townsville leading comfortably towards the end of the match, Dickerson and Ebneter finally got their chance for some game time.
They didn't waste the opportunity either with Ebneter's uncompromising defence leading to another two points for Townsville.
The local duo's performance was just one of the highlights in a thrilling contest with the Crocs' sensational attack leading them to a 92-79 victory.
Crocs import Jason Forte made a mockery of the 'no hanging from the rims' sign at USQ with an amazing slam dunk while Peter Crawford and Russell Hinder put on a master class from the three-point line, sinking seven long-range shots between them in the third quarter.
Crocs coach Paul Woolpert said his team's blistering attacking display was a credit to its solid defence.
"We shot the heck out of the ball in the third quarter," he said.
"We outscored them 29-14 and we did it because of our defence.
"I think what we have to understand as a team is that, if we defend well, it'll give us that much better opportunities at the offensive end.
"When we get stops and we're able to get down the floor and get numbers ... we'll find the open man and use him."
The Crocs are 2-0 after their first pre-season outings of the year but Woolpert said there was still room for improvement.
"It's always nice to win a game but we'll watch the tape and figure out the things we need to work on," he said.
"It's a good start to come down to Toowoomba and win a couple of games."
Kings coach Shane Heal was upbeat about his side's NBL prospects despite leaving Toowoomba with two losses.
"We were disappointed to lose the games but like we've said all along, it's a really early stage for us," Heal said.
"We've got to keep learning and keep developing. It's a brand new team and new philosophies. It's going take a bit of time."
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