WHEN the going got tough, the Melbourne Tigers fell away in their opening match against the Adelaide 36ers in Adelaide yesterday.
The Tigers went in as underdogs and were just three points down at half-time, but their good form disappeared in the second half as the home side pulled away to notch an 84-61 win.
The Tigers' offence went up in smoke in the third term and soon after their defence went with it as the 36ers doubled the Tigers' points, 40-20, in the second half.
Tigers coach Chris Anstey said his side had some soul-searching to do.
''We reverted back to old habits when it got hard,'' he said after the game.
''We didn't compete, we dropped our heads and let the game get away from us.''
Tigers recruit Chris Goulding and former Gold Coast Blaze teammate Anthony Petrie, now with Adelaide, were ejected from the game after the pair scuffled with 37 seconds left in the third term.
While some could call that clash the turning point in the match, the 36ers had already bounced out to a 10-point lead and looked well on their way to victory.
Anstey said Goulding had to show more restraint while his teammates needed to put together a more cohesive performance.
''I think they were just discussing who was owed more money by the Gold Coast and I don't think they agreed,'' he joked.
''I couldn't see it all, so I will be interested to see it on tape. But you need to be more controlled and level-headed.
''Even if someone punches you in the face, you need to walk away. Once again, it's us being too reactive and not proactive.''
The referees had not reported either Goulding or Petrie as of yesterday, but have 24 hours to lodge any further action, a move that looks unlikely.
For Adelaide, former Tigers centre Daniel Johnson and teammate and 36ers guard Stephen Weigh were the high scorers with 21 points each, while Petrie notched 13 points and Adam Gibson 12.
The Tigers' 208-centimetre import forward, Seth Scott, had 17 points and six rebounds to lead his side, while Kevin Braswell and Lucas Walker both scored 11 points.
Walker suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the final term and did not return. Anstey said X-rays would be taken in Melbourne today.
''They got his shoulder back in and we hope there is no bone damage because we need him,'' he said.
The Tigers will next visit the Sydney Kings in Sydney on Friday.