Those hoping for an English football-like handshake controversy before the Breakers game against Townsville tomorrow night might be sorely disappointed.
Tom Abercrombie insists there is no bad blood between himself and Peter Crawford, and the Breaker followed the lead of his adversary by confirming he intends to shake hands when the teams line up before getting on with the game.
Tomorrow's encounter at the North Shore Events Centre will be the first meeting between the pair since Crawford's hard foul on Abercrombie in last year's semifinals limited the swingman's role in the Breakers' successful grand final series.
Abercrombie is still feeling the effects of the injury he suffered to his left ankle - but he isn't feeling the need for vengeance.
"I tried to bury that as soon as possible because it doesn't help me thinking about that or what could have been," Abercrombie said. "For me, it was about letting go and moving on. I've done that and I want to just go out there and play well like it's any other game.
"We'll shake hands before the game and move on. Hopefully we'll leave that all on the sidelines and, when we get on the court, we'll just play basketball."
Crawford's foul from behind as Abercrombie drove to the basket came late in a game that was all but decided in the Breakers' favour, leading many to cast aspersions over the Australian's intentions.
The Croc has dismissed such speculation and was adamant he thought the game could still be saved. One thing is for certain, whatever the motivation for the foul, the damage done was extensive.
Abercrombie was forced to sit out the Tall Blacks' failed Olympic bid and also missed the Australian NBL pre-season after having surgery in an attempt to clear bone chips and finally free himself from the lingering pain.
"It was a long off-season, I went through a fair bit of stuff," Abercrombie said. "But I've got bigger things to worry about at the moment. I'm trying to focus on getting better and helping this team get a win."
It is understandable for Abercrombie to focus less on a feud and more on his health. His ankle is still constricting his performance, as evidenced by an atypically low 16 points from the Breakers' opening two games.
"It gets a little bit stiff as games go along, but I think that's pretty normal for an injury like this. From where I started three weeks ago - when I started practising again - to where I am now is a big difference. It's improved a lot and if we can keep that kind of improvement, that's great.
"The biggest thing is just getting into the rhythm of the game and choosing my points where to attack, and just having the confidence to be able to do that. That's something that's just going to come with time - confidence is probably the hardest thing to get back. But I feel like I'm getting there."
The 25-year-old admitted to uncertainty about how he'll react the first time he finds himself in close contact with Crawford on the court, but was happy to leave any antagonism to the crowd.
"It was obviously a pretty big moment when it happened last year, so I'm sure [the crowd] will remember that. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
- APNZBy Kris Shannon Email Kris