Foul play

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   The North-West Tall Timbers Thunder are still searching for answers after the final stages of Saturday night’s thrilling victory against Melbourne at Ulverstone were marred by an incident involving a laser beam from a member of the crowd.

Immediately after the play, a member of the Melbourne coaching staff approached the courtside announcers table to inform them of something, with news filtering out after the game that Hughes was put off by a laser dot moving on the wall behind the backboard.

The Thunder went on to win the game 94-92.

An official complaint regarding the incident has been received by the Thunder from the SEABL via Melbourne, with a disappointed club chairman Tony Barker confirming the incident to The Advocate after reviewing their own footage of the game taken on the night.

“As much as to say there were laser dots on that wall towards the end of the game, in terms of identifying where they came from or who did it, no we don’t have anything solved,” Barker said. 

“We’ve put it to our members to help us out to identify anything and we’re investigating the best we can but we haven’t found the culprit.

“Melbourne have asked about it and we are keen to get it out there that it is not behaviour that we recommend or support.

We’ve put it to our members to help us out to identify anything and we’re investigating the best we can but we haven’t found the culprit.

North-West Thunder chairman Tony Barker.

“While we can’t necessarily control what spectators do, we are going through a process to figure out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Barker admitted that the incident, which he believes was only a one-off situation from the footage he has seen, caught everyone off guard, and may have led to how the situation was handled while the game was still in progress.

“Thinking about it afterwards, I don’t know why Melbourne didn’t stop and mention something to the referee,” Barker said.

“One of the referees mentioned something to our match manager afterwards, but even then, if it was an issue, surely they would have stopped the game to get it sorted. 

“I wonder whether everybody was caught off-guard and the incident was basically over before anybody worked out what was actually happening.”

The beam is believed to have originated from the grandstand at the northern end of the court, with Barker not agreeing with Melbourne that it was shined in Hughes’ eyes as he shot his free throws at the southern end of the Ulverstone Sports and Leisure Centre court.

“For that to actually happen, and the way we see it, the laser was coming from behind him so that’s not going to be in his eye, granted that it would be on the wall in his line of sight, but it certainly wasn’t shined in his eyes,” Barker said.

“But regardless of how it happened, we want to get to the bottom of it and stop it happening in the future.”