Sounds of Tom and Jerry's Prime show worth hearing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 June, 1995, 12:00am

SO often you hear basketball coaches, commentators and players tell you that the secret to success is attention to the fundamentals.

It was a shame then that Prime Sports' coverage of the Asian Basketball Championships in Seoul got off to such an unsound start.

Almost literally unsound, as the English language commentary team of Toto Dejhardi and Sean Tarver struggled to make themselves heard. For the first 10 minutes of one game their voices were like whispers from a muffled room, drowned out by an overlay of Cantonese commentary plus the amplified sounds of the players' shoes squeaking on the Seoul gym floor.

Luckily, it proved to be only a brief technical fault and once the microphone levels were sorted out it settled into some very entertaining coverage.

Tarver, a former UCLA player who now plays in Hong Kong, was able to bring a player's eye view to the proceedings and made some telling observations.

The other commentary team of Tom McCarthy and Jerry Barisano (the temptation to make Tom and Jerry jokes must be resisted) were even more entertaining.

Without coming to blows they managed to convey contrary opinions of Japan's chances in their crunch game against Asian giants China.

And, as well as their forthright disagreements with each other, it was refreshing to hear two commentators willing to stick it to the referee when he made a bad call. Barisano, who handled the play-by-play duties, was strong advocate of the Japanese side's shock potential, while colour commentator McCarthy (who coached Boston College in the 1980s) stood firmly by the proven Chinese.

At the end the Japanese had only just failed to pull off an upset, a late run giving China a flattering 11-point win margin. McCarthy and Barisano enlivened the proceedings with the colourful patois of US sports talk - 'Shake 'n bake', 'Highlight film', 'Highlight film II' - they each hollered at various times to mark exciting plays.

At one point McCarthy, whose astute analysis is delivered in a broad Boston accent, bemoaned a defensive error, saying: 'That's what we call the matador defence - upper body and arms moving while the feet stay rooted to the floor and Ole.' And then, enthusing about the team's commitment to getting in the paint: 'This is great - like the NBA with five guys going mano a mano but with hardly any timeouts.' The coup de grace , though, went to Barisano. After China's man-mountain centre missed an outrageously long three-pointer, he yelled: 'Shan Tao from the parking lot.'CONGRATULATIONS to Prime also on their Rugby World Cup coverage. The disappointingly try-less final was still emotionally charged because of the context of South Africa's win. And the obligatory end-of-tournament video montage to music was suitably entertaining.

ESPN were shortchanged in their Stanley Cup coverage as the overzealous New Jersey Devils blew out the Detroit Red Wings, curtailing the best-of-seven series to just four games, just as the NBA Finals had ended in a sweep. The channel (on Wharf Cable) must have hoped for repeat seven-gamers as last year in both sports but you can't win them all.WIMBLEDON fans can see live action this week on Prime starting tonight at 9.