The number 1 and 2 seeds have both qualified for the best of 5 game championship finals in the NBL beginning on the 3rd of March.
Breakers vs Jackjumpers
The New Zealand Breakers overcame an early challenge from a tough Tasmanian Jackjumpers side, coming from 11pts down during the first quarter to win, 92-77. The loud and often-animated Auckland crowd, cheered their team on with their defence getting them over the line after a poor first quarter.
The New Zealand side were aided in their win by their brilliant effort at the free-throw line, shooting an amazing 24-24 throughout the match.
Import, Barry Brown Jnr was the star of the show, finishing with 32 points whilst Derek Pardon also chimed in with a double-double, ending the night with 15 pts and 14 boards for the home side.
Jack Mcveigh was his typical accurate self, ending the night as the Jackjumpers best player ending with 22pts at 55% from the field. After an excellent game two, Jackjumpers superstar Milton Doyle was held quiet thanks to an excellent defensive team effort from the Breakers side. Doyle ended up with only 12 pts, shooting a disappointing 2-10 from the field.
In all key stats, the Breakers were the better side, dominating the Jackjumpers – 29-14 from turnovers, 46-28 in the paint, 19-7 in second-chance attempts and 18-2 off the fast break.
Breaker’s coach Mody Moar was ecstatic with his team’s performance after finishing bottom in last year’s season. “What a difference a year makes. “We worked all year to get home court and it was worth every penny”, Moar said.” I’m blessed to have incredible partners everywhere – management, coaching staff, and players. They made this so much fun, and I was not ready for this season to end. I really couldn’t face them if we didn’t get one more practice. I’m happy to get to see them again.”
Although going down, Jackjumpers coach Scott Roth was proud of his teams performance “It’s been maybe a better year than last year. We didn’t get to the Grand Final, but our guys have just been fantastic all season,” Roth said. “To finish fourth in this type of league again that’s quite tough and win a playoff game to get in, and be where we’re at, I’m super proud of our group and our effort, and our organisation.
Kings vs Taipans
After topping the table during the year, reigning champions the Sydney Kings, are into yet another championship finals series, defeating the Cairns Taipans 79-64 in front of a disappointing home crowd.
The Taipans dominated early, leading the by 6pts at the end of the first quarter, showing the Kings early that they were there to play.
It was the second quarter where the Kings put their foot down and set the result up, dominating the Taipans 28-13.
Sydney Captain and League MVP Xavier Cooks, was solid without dominating. Scoring 11 points and getting 11 rebounds after originally being in doubt to play due to a rolled ankle in game 2 in Cairns. It was a team effort which got the Kings over the line with no player scoring over 15 pts but 4 players scoring in double figures.
The Kings were just simply too strong on the defence end for the Taipans, out-rebounding them 58-40 whilst only allowing them to shoot at 31% from the field, with Game 2 Cairns hero, Tahjere McCall shooting a disappointing 2-17.
For a deciding game 3, it was an extremely disappointing crowd for the Kings with Qudos Bank Arena only estimated to be half-full, with approximately 5000 people in attendance.
Kings coach Chase Buford was humble and full of praise for his opposition after their win in game 3. “Our offence still wasn’t very good tonight and credit to Cairns for doing a hell of a job,” Buford said. “We’re very aware that if they could have been healthier the whole series it might have looked a lot differently. Credit to Fordey and their group, they gave us all we could handle and then some.
Taipans coach Adam Forde was disappointed but full of praise for his side “Naturally it’s disappointing and not in the sense of anything else that nine teams are going to be feeling this level of disappointment with your season coming to an end,” Forde said. “I’m proud of the boys, it’s been a hell of a schedule and a hell of a run especially with this fifth game in 10 days. “We ran off adrenaline at the start, but you could see with how that fourth quarter went, we were just missing layups, missing foul shots and the execution side of it was good, we just missed bunnies and had turnovers. “It was just the signs of fatigue so I’m not disappointed in how we played, just naturally the season has come to an end, so you feel a bit disappointed.”
Championship Series Schedule:
Game 1: Friday March 3, 7:30pm, Qudos Bank Arena
Game 2: Sunday March 5, 4:00pm, Spark Arena
Game 3: Friday March 10, 7:30pm, Qudos Bank Arena
Game 4 (if required): Sunday March 12, 4:00pm, Spark Arena
Game 5 (if required): Wednesday March 15, 7:30pm, Qudos Bank Arena