MELBOURNE, Australia — It didn’t take long.
While the New Mexico Lobos beat the Southeastern Australia Basketball League All-Stars 78-66 on Thursday in Melbourne, thanks in large part to Alex Kirk scoring 26 points and Hugh Greenwood dazzling a few dozen friends and family members in the stands of the Kilsyth Sports Stadium, head coach Craig Neal showed he will carry on at least one in-game tradition of his predecessor.
As the Lobos were struggling early in the game, the always fiery Neal slammed a clipboard to the ground during a timeout, breaking it — something former head coach Steve Alford was prone to do on more than one occasion during his six seasons as head coach.
In a postgame video interview posted on golobos.com, guard Kendall Williams said, “I’ve got to ask you. You and coach Alford — notorious for breaking clipboards.”
Neal interrupted with a laugh, “I knew that was coming.”
“This actually will go down in history as your first broken clipboard,” Williams said.
“When it counts,” Neal pointed out. “We’re 2-0 when I’ve broken a clipboard (he broke a clipboard during a Lobos win as an assistant coach as well). … I guess I was serious enough to break one in a trip to Australia so maybe we should keep it up.”
The Lobos also kept up their come-form-behind, winning ways on their three-game road trip down under.
The All-Stars went on a 20-4 run over the second and third quarters to take a 48-43 lead with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter.
By the time sophomore Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third, UNM entered the final quarter trailing 58-57.
The Lobos were in control of the final quarter, opening up with a 13-3 scoring run that included a Williams 3-pointer, a Kirk dunk and a Thomas to Nick Banyard alley-oop.
Kirk capped his 26-point, nine-rebound game with a 3-pointer. Greenwood, the Tasmania native who had more than 30 friends and family members in the stands, had 13 points, eight rebounds, five steal and three assists.
Williams hit five 3-pointers and finished with 16 points while Thomas was the fourth Lobo scoring in double figures with 11 points.
Merv Lindsay, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Wednesday, started in place of Cameron Bairstow, who was working out with the Australian Boomers national team. Lindsay, the transfer from Kansas, pulled down seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Junior college transfer Arthur Edwards joined Williams, Greenwood, Kirk and Lindsay in the starting lineup, scoring two points and blocking two shots.
Earlier in the day, the Lobos went to an Aussie Rules Football practice, a sport Greenwood grew up playing and one he says is a much better port than rugby.
UNM, 2-0 on their exhibition tour, play the final game of the tour Sunday in Queensland at the Southport School Basketball Stadium against another all-star team.