The Tasmanian Jackjumpers have forced a third and final semi-final match, defeating the New Zealand Breakers 89-78 in front of their home fans in Hobart.
Hobart has been a happy hunting ground for Tasmania, winning 11 of their past 12 games against the Breakers. The undermanned Jackjumpers showed no signs of missing their star point guard in Josh Magette, as they simply outworked and outhustled their New Zealand opponents, never letting them get into any offensive rhythm whatsoever.
The Jackjumpers romped home in the last quarter and a half, jumping on the back of a stellar performance by shooting guard, Milton Doyle, who finished with 23 pts, shooting 8-17 from the field. Doyle was also supported by Jack ‘McTre’ Mcveigh who lived up to his nickname, sinking 3 triples and ending up with 16pts, shooting an impressive 5-8 from the field.
The Breakers, however, will be rueing their missed chances late in the third and fourth quarters respectively. They shot poorly, especially from the 3-point line, going 6/26 triples for the night. Once again for the Breakers it was their imports who did majority of the scoring, with their American trio in Brown (19pts), Brantley (17pts) and Pardon (15pts) combining for over 65% of their score.
Jackjumpers coach Scott Roth was super happy with his team after their win, which has now given them a chance to repeat their Cinderella Story from last year. “We’ve worked extremely hard this year and to be back in this position again, to defend the island and win at home is what we pride ourselves on. This group is quite relentless in their approach. I don’t know that it always leads to winning but it does lead to an incredible effort, and I thought tonight they were just relentless.”
Breakers coach Mody Maor admitted that Tasmania were just too good on the night. “The JackJumpers responded and played great. “We didn’t defend to the level we (usually) defend and our offence was a little bit stagnant. Some of it came from us just missing some good open threes. We will play better next time.”
The winner in Sunday’s deciding game will play against the winner of the Sydney-Cairns series. The dominating defending champions Kings have already put up a 1-0 lead following their 95-87 win in Wednesday’s semi-final series opener.
Expect a raucous New Zealand crowd as the Breakers return to Auckland for the semi-final decider this Sunday. The Breakers will be going in as favourites but expect a closer game compared their 20pt game 1 margin.