Tasmania JackJumpers crowned NBL champs after thrilling grand final win over Melbourne United

Jack Mcveigh cheers on his JackJumpers teammates during Sunday's thriller in Melbourne.

Jack Mcveigh cheers on his JackJumpers teammates during Sunday's thriller in Melbourne. Photo: Getty

Tasmania JackJumpers have claimed their maiden NBL championship by pulling off a remarkable 83-81 road win over Melbourne United in the best-of-five series decider.

In front of 11,175 fans in enemy territory at John Cain Arena, Jordon Crawford produced one of the great scoring performances to help Tasmania claw their way to the crown in a gripping battle.

Crawford scored 27 first-half points and overcame a quite third period to finish with a series-high 32.

It was the equal-third highest tally by any player in a title-series game during the 40-minute game era, which dates back to 2009.

The result completed a fairytale ride under head coach Scott Roth for the league’s newest franchise, who lost a title decider two years ago in their debut season.

United earned home-court advantage for the Championship Series and won the first of three Melbourne games by 23 points, but coughed up the final two in tight contests.

The final four games of the series were decided by a total of just 11 points.

Crawford was the hero for Tasmania but had plenty of support from Jack McVeigh (14 points, eight rebounds), Will Magnay (11, 12) and Milton Doyle (11,10).

Each of Melbourne’s five starters reached double figures, led by Jo Lual-Acuil Jr (14 points), Matthew Dellavedova, Chris Goulding and Luke Travers (13 each).

Dellavedova, who won an NBA championship with Cleveland in 2016, had a last-gasp chance to pinch the decider for Melbourne, but his long-range attempt at a buzzer-beater hit the backboard and rimmed out.

Lual-Acuil set the tone for an explosive first quarter with a huge dunk under pressure from Magnay and Doyle to open the scoring.

Travers had 11 points to his name as Melbourne built a double-figure lead inside five minutes and held a 31-26 advantage at quarter-time after Goulding’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

But Crawford’s scintillating 19-point first period on perfect shooting, including four triples, kept Tasmania firmly in the contest.

He remained perfect from long range with his fifth three-pointer, which put Tasmania ahead for the first time, two minutes before halftime.

Goulding hurt his right knee in a collision with Majok Deng and racked up three fouls before halftime, as one of a host of players from both teams in foul trouble.

Scores were locked at 44-44 at the main break as Crawford’s personal tally swelled to 27 points.

The first half’s dominant figure went cold in the third quarter, throwing up four shots – all of them unsuccessful – as a tense battle continued at both ends of the floor.

Melbourne burst out of the blocks in the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run that drove a nine-point wedge between the teams.

But Crawford responded with the next five points and Tasmania was level again in the blink of an eye.

The JackJumpers got five points up, but Goulding’s ridiculous off-balance three with four seconds left ensured the game went down to the buzzer.

Melbourne pinched an in-bounds pass and Dellavedova heaved a potential game-winner that missed, sparking wild scenes among the travelling Tasmania fans.


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