Home » Tasmania JackJumpers continue ‘special’ Aussie sporting fairytale

Tasmania JackJumpers continue ‘special’ Aussie sporting fairytale

The Tasmania JackJumpers continue to prove themselves the ideal model for expansion sporting teams in Australia, winning through to the NBL Grand Final series.

The JackJumpers defeated the Perth Wildcats 100-84 on Wednesday night to win the semifinal series 2-1 and book their place in the Grand Final against title favourites Melbourne United.

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Tasmania have been one of the most consistent teams all season and they outclassed the Wildcats in Perth, clamping down on defence and limiting Bryce Cotton to a relatively quiet 21 points.

Milton Doyle gave the JackJumpers the lead in the second and third quarters and finished with 24 points and nine assists, while Jack McVeigh had a season-high 27 points.

The JackJumpers were always in control and held on for a comfortable 16-point victory to secure their place in a second Grand Final series in just their third season in the NBL.

Tasmania joined the NBL in the 2021-22 season and upset Melbourne United to make the Grand Final, before losing to the Sydney Kings.

The Tassie outfit made last season’s semifinals and have been a model of consistency as a franchise, thanks to shrewd recruiting and the leadership of popular coach Scott Roth.

After defeating Perth, Roth once again preached his mantra of “defending the island” of Tasmania.

“The island defended. Love those people back in Tasmania, this team loves you, we’re coming back home,” an emotional Roth said post-game.

“It’s all about defending the island and taking care of this state.”

Roth was a former assistant coach at Perth and paid tribute to Wildcats champions Jesse Wagstaff and Damian Martin for giving him a reference for the JackJumpers coaching job.

“Wagstaff, I don’t know if this is going to be his last game in a Wildcats jersey or not, but I wouldn’t be sitting here without his recommendations when I went through my job process,” Roth said.

“Him and Damian Martin were huge in what transpired in me getting this job so I would not be sitting here, I love Jesse, he’s everything that’s great about basketball and this franchise, I’m indebted to this franchise and have much respect for this franchise.”

Basketball reporter Olgun Uluc wrote on X: “The JackJumpers have played 3 seasons in the NBL. They’ve made the playoffs every season, including two Championship Series.

“Scott Roth has built such a healthy, sustainable program in Tasmania. They should be *the* model for any expansion franchise, in any sport.”

AAP’s Oliver Caffrey said: “The Jackjumpers have set the highest of bars for Tasmania’s AFL team. In a second championship series in their first three seasons in the NBL. Incredible story.”

ESPN NBL commentator Joel Peterson said: “The emotion clear. The execution brilliant. What a performance from Scott Roth and the Jackies. 2 grand finals in 3 years truly is something special.”

Former Melbourne Tigers player Felix von Hofe said: “Scott Roth could not possibly be a better fit for Tasmania. Speaks with such emotion every time he mentions the island. March on!”

Roth has become a cult hero in Australian basketball circles, and he put on a coaching masterclass against Perth, standing calmly on the sidelines with a new slicked-back hairdo.

Two grand final appearances in just three seasons is seriously impressive, and the JackJumpers will enter rarefied air if they can go all the way and win the NBL championship.

Only a handful of expansion teams have won their domestic sporting competitions in Australia.

In the NBL, the New Zealand Breakers have won four championships since their inception in 2003.

The South Dragons, based in Melbourne’s southeast, won the 2009 championship in the last of three seasons in the league.

The Melbourne Storm won the NRL premiership in 1999, the Western Sydney Wanders won the A-League in their second season in 2013-14 and Western United won the A-League in 2022 after joining in 2019-2020.

The NRL have added the Gold Coast Titans and Dolphins over the last decade, with an 18th team set to join the competition in the coming years.

The Titans experienced some minor success early on in the club’s history, but have battled to make finals in recent years.

In the AFL, the GWS Giants are the biggest expansion success story, making finals most seasons and finishing runners-up in 2019 Grand Final. The Giants are one of the premiership favourites this year.

The Gold Coast Suns are yet to make the top eight since joining the AFL in 2011, despite having Gary Ablett Jnr at the peak of his powers in the early 2010s.

New coach Damien Hardwick knows it’s finals or bust for the Suns, who boast an impressive list but have struggled to string consistent form together.

A Tasmanian team will join the AFL in 2028 and expectations will be high, given the success of the JackJumpers and the popularity of Aussie Rules in the Apple Isle.

Tasmania will believe they can win the NBL title, having beaten Melbourne United in two out of three match-ups this season. They will need to win on the road once again if they are to cause an upset and defend the island once more.

The five-game NBL Grand Finals series tips off on Sunday at 4pm, live on ESPN via Kayo.