Home » Fairytale complete as Tasmania JackJumpers win first-ever NBL title to seal all-time finals series

Fairytale complete as Tasmania JackJumpers win first-ever NBL title to seal all-time finals series

Scott Roth was adamant from the start. Adamant this was not about him. It was about changing lives. Defending the island.

“Island defended,” Roth said post-game after the Tasmania JackJumpers, who only entered the league three seasons ago, claimed their first NBL title with a 83-81 win over Melbourne United in Game 5.

It came off the back of an inspirational showing from American import Jordon Crawford, who scored 20 points in the first quarter alone to keep the JackJumpers close as United made a fast start.

Watch every game of the NBL Championship Series LIVE with ESPN on Kayo Sports. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >

Tassie JackJumpers claim first NBL title | 02:22

“We just beat two giants in Australian basketball on their home floor,” Roth added.

“United is filled with champions. Our guys just continued to believe. They’ve obviously got a great team, Dean [Vickerman] is a great coach, these games came down to last possessions and I can’t believe it.

“I’m really happy for our staff, obviously for our players, but more importantly for Tasmania. We defended the island for you. It was our motto, we fought like hell and we’re coming home with the trophy.

“They’re [the fans] everything. Why I started this franchise, why I came to this franchise was to see if I could do something and build it from scratch and connect this island and we pounded the rock all season long and today we split it.”

Of course, Tasmania would not have even been in this position if it wasn’t for Jack McVeigh’s miracle game winner at John Cain Arena last week.

“I don’t know,” McVeigh said after Sunday’s game when asked how many times he had watched that shot back, adding: “Just one day I’m going to show my kids, that’s for sure.”

Jack Mcveigh of the JackJumpers celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

He is going to tell his kids how far he has come too, since the days when he was looking up to Matthew Dellavedova and Chris Goulding, now playing against the Boomers duo in an epic Championship Series for the ages.

“I’m just so grateful to so many people. So many people… they trusted in me,” McVeigh added.

“Listen to them [the fans], it’s crazy. It’s such a fun group of guys… it’s been a hell of a year.

“He [Roth] gets the job done… I’m going to be putting up with him for a while.

“When I look across the line I see Delly there, someone I’ve been cheering on and supporting for so many years, Chris Goulding — someone I looked up to when he was playing for the Gold Coast Blaze and I was showing up to those games. To go out there and battle with them is such an honour. That was one series.”

Jo Lual-Acuil set the tone early for United in Sunday’s game with a transition dunk after a pinpoint pass from Luke Travers.

Travers, who had 11 rebounds and 17 points in Game 4, was heavily involved early as he grabbed the defensive rebound on a Will Magnay miss and then drove to the rim to earn two free throws, making both.

It was the start of a strong first quarter for the 22-year-old, who had 12 points, two rebounds and an assist.

Jordon Crawford was huge in Game 5. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Melbourne United jumped out to a 16-6 advantage after four minutes, prompting JackJumpers coach Roth to call the first timeout of the game.

Things went from bad to worse for Tasmania when Magnay headed up the tunnel with a potential injury, although he later returned for the second quarter after receiving treatment on his hamstring.

Meanwhile, Crawford picked up where he left off early in the second quarter as he pulled up to make a pair of jump shots as Tasmania reduced the deficit to 35-34.

Then, just as United threatened to pull away, McVeigh stood tall with two layups as Dean Vickerman called a timeout leading 41-38 with four minutes left in the quarter.

There was an added injury concern for Melbourne too as Goulding hobbled off the court for the timeout, although he like Magnay shook off the issue to continue playing.

The timeout didn’t stop Tasmania from continuing to its fightback after a slow start until a deep Crawford 3-pointer gave the JackJumpers their first lead of the game, up 43-42.

“One of the great first halves we’ve seen from an individual in a championship series,” Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze said of Crawford, who had not scored more than 14 points in any game of the Championship Series before Sunday.

Scott Roth, Coach of the JackJumpers celebrates victory. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The seesawing nature of Sunday’s game continued in the third as the JackJumpers refused to go away, falling behind by as many as seven points, but keeping it close heading into the final quarter.

Tasmania looked to be falling away early in the fourth quarter as back-to-back buckets from Shea Ili put United ahead 70-61 but once again, as they have since entering the league, the JackJumpers scrapped and clawed their way back into it.

In fact, Tasmania tied the game up at 71-all entering the final six minutes as Crawford came up clutch with five quick points while the usual suspects of McVeigh, Magnay and Milton Doyle were also involved.

Doyle, who was scoreless at halftime, in particular stepped up when the JackJumpers needed him most to come up with crucial buckets down the stretch.

That included a floating jumper to put Tasmania ahead 81-78 and then United inexplicably decided against fouling Magnay as a layup put the JackJumpers up 83-78.

A wild Goulding fadeaway 3-pointer gave Melbourne a glimmer of hope and then the JackJumpers turned over possession on the inbounds pass but a Dellavedova prayer shot fell short as Tasmania held on for its first title.