Snake, Pearl join forces

Snake, Pearl join forces

They led the basketball revolution in Australia and now Hall of Famers Cal Bruton and Herb McEachin want to inspire a new generation with a tournament of ''playground ball and old school rules''.

But they won't be pulling on short shorts and singlets to relive their glory years as NBL superstars to revive the Canberra Cannons.

Instead, they've joined forces for the Bruton 2 on 2 tournament at Tuggeranong on Saturday in an attempt to reinvigorate the sport.

''Black Pearl'' Bruton and ''The Snake'' McEachin were rivals on the court.

They played against each other in the first NBL match in 1979 and went on to become legends of the game.


Crowds flocked to ''The Palace'' in Canberra when the Cannons dominated the competition in the late 1980s.

McEachin kept playing in the Canberra competition and only stopped 12 months ago while Bruton has played just one game in two years.

But when the tournament heats up, two of the highest profile players in NBL history might get the itch to pull on a singlet and relive their golden basketball years.

''We bringing the old school back,'' Bruton said.

''If this snowballs the way we think … we take kids on tour, we take kids to the United States to watch NBA games, it's going to be great.

''All great teams have great two-man combinations, Cal Bruton and Leroy Loggins, when I played against the Cannons it was Herb and Phil Smyth.

''If I got past Phil, The Snake would be there to knock me back down.

''This tournament is about the fundamentals of the game, hopefully it creates competitiveness, competence and confidence.

''We want to make this fun and the bottom line is get your game on, bring it on.''

One of Australia's great basketballers, Andrew Gaze, will be one of the star attractions as well as a host of retired greats including Tad Dufelmeier, Dave Nelson and Rodney Overby.

Basketball was at its peak when Bruton and McEachin were leading the NBL.

Crowds piled into stadiums and the players were superstars.

However, in recent years the game has been trying to recapture the excitement and hype of the 1980s and 90s.

It has been almost a decade since the Cannons went broke and the franchise moved to Newcastle.

But Bruton hopes his 2-on-2 tournament will put a spark back into the game.

The competition will travel Australia with the winners to play in a final in Sydney and the duo which triumphs winning a trip to the US.

To make things interesting, there's a 14-second shot clock, the ball must be passed three times before a basket and there are no referees.

In a bid to promote sportsmanship, the defensive team will be given the responsibility of calling fouls and if the teams disagree, they'll toss a coin to make a final decision.

''It's the ad-lib part of the game which makes players become exceptional and that's what 2-on-2 is,'' McEachin said. ''We old school, we played playground ball and you're just with your partners.''

To register visit There are male and female age divisions of 14 and under, 15-20, 21-30 and 31 and over. Competition starts at 9am. Entry includes a tee-shirt, basketball and two-hour training camp run by Bruton and McEachin.

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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