THE Griffith Demons have slipped their heads out of the hangman’s noose with the news they will be able to fulfil their State League basketball commitments against Canberra and Queanbeyan this weekend.
An urgent call was put out this week for players and staff to take over the team after the previous Demons side walked out on the State League season in protest of former coach Andrew Cullen’s six-month suspension.
Griffith forfeited its clash against Bathurst last round due to the team pulling the pin, and if it did so again tomorrow the program would have been killed off.
However, speaking to The Area News yesterday, Griffith Basketball president Damian Curry said he was pleased to announce the Demons were back and will travel to play the Nationals and Yowies this weekend.
“We are fielding a team in Canberra this weekend, we’re probably going to be going there under our own bat (financially),” Curry said.
“There have been people coming left, right and centre offering themselves as players, or networking so we can get discounted accommodation.
“And I think what’s coming through is that people are feeling let down and disappointed because spectators felt a real ownership for that team, and they feel like they have been abandoned.”
Curry said he was surprised with the number of players who put their hand up to fill the breech, as the Demons to look to play out their remaining nine games in 2012.
“We have got some local A grade players to come forward and we have uncovered some players we did not know about, we have some gems though in terms of ex-ABA players who have moved to town recently,” Curry said.
“We’re having a player meeting (last night) to see what people are able to contribute towards travel and take the squad from there and we’ll have a bit of a training run.
“Hopefully we can get another session in (tonight), but it’s going to be tough whether we gel the team or run people ragged because there is a double-header and that is going to be tough.”
When asked what he can envisage for the Demons beyond this year, Curry said basketball was too important to the city of Griffith to let it’s greatest advertisement be consigned to the pages of history.
“You never know, being in there is just part of it, representing our town at a state level is part of it,” he said.
“When the pressure is on, people can lift, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
“But more than anything the players that have stepped forward have a love for the game, so I don’t think they will be going through the motions.
“There is personal and town pride on the line – they don’t want to lose it (the side).
“The momentum that Andrew (Cullen) has built with that side – it’s very important not to lose.
“That (previous Demons) team was an absolute powerhouse and most teams in the (State League) competition were threatened by them, they were a truly outstanding team and they will be incredibly hard to replace.
“But at this point it’s about not letting the program die and meeting our obligations, not just to NSW Basketball, but to the fans in this town.”
The Griffith Demons tip-off against Canberra tomorrow night at 6pm, with their clash with the Yowies starting at 12pm on Sunday.