Buzzer-beater gives Breakers the title
A MIRACLE last-second shot by journeyman forward Ekene Ibekwe gave New Zealand its fourth NBL title in five years and broke the hearts of Cairns Taipans fans hoping their team could return home for a decider on Friday.
In an astonishing final quarter, especially the last few minutes, game two of the best-of-three finals series swung both ways, with the Breakers clawing back from a six-point deficit when point guard Cedric Jackson levelled the scored at 78-all inside the final minute.
Cairns then took a 79-78 lead with 29 seconds to go after veteran Cameron Tragardh made one of two free throws. The Breakers tied it up at 79-all with a free throw from Cedric Jackson, before the game's most experienced playoff performer, Kiwi captain Mika Vukona, iced two pressure free throws before rookie Scottie Wilbekin made two from the stripe to tie the clash at 81-all with 1.2 seconds on the clock.
Pandemonium broke out when an off-balance Ibekwe (pictured) put up his freakish match-winner which found nothing but net as the siren sounded.
It was an incredible finish, one of the best since St Kilda won the first NBL title in 1979.
"We just kept on fighting," said beaming forward Thomas Abercrombie.
"That's what we do, we win championships. That was an unbelievable shot to make."
Meanwhile, Townsville exacted revenge on Bendigo with a 75-65 win to claim the WNBL title after losing the past two finals to Bendigo.