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GAME REPORT

JackJumpers Keep Their Fairytale Chance Alive

Records continue to tumble and the Tasmania JackJumpers refuse to accept their season being over with the new kids on the block notching up a huge 83-61 win over Melbourne United at MyState Bank Arena in Hobart.

The equation was simple for Tasmania in the final round of #NBL22. Perform, or perish. The win keeps the JackJumpers alive in the fight for fourth spot in their first year of existence, while a loss would have meant their season of extraordinary performances would have halted in Hobart.

If South East Melbourne beat the Wildcats in Perth on Sunday, Tasmania will create history by making the finals in their inaugural year.

Sure, Melbourne already had the regular season championship secure coming into Saturday night.

Matthew Dellavedova (dental issues), David Barlow and Jack White (both back) were scrubbed from this match. In the third quarter, United coach Dean Vickerman benched most of his stars with the match seemingly lost.

However, the defending champions threw everything they had at the JackJumpers for the best part of three quarters until they were knocked out of the contest in a 29-9 third quarter. United have never been smashed by 20 points in a quarter before, add that to the list of JackJumpers historic feats.

It was also Melbourne’s biggest loss this season and their lowest score posted. Tasmania was just hungrier for the win and won all the effort areas. 

Josh Adams (19 points including 4/7 from long range) spearheaded the attack, Matt Kenyon was a thief in the night with four steals while MiKyle McIntosh (20 points) jacked up his points at a crucial time when United looked like they could streak away from the JackJumpers.

Josh Magette was everywhere for the JackJumpers with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Even if Perth win on Sunday, Tasmania coach Scott Roth said they had ticked off the goals they had set out to achieve.

"These guys continue to amaze me, their fight, their effort, the way they rally around each other ... it has been an amazing journey and tomorrow will be tomorrow," Roth said. 

"The players have set the standard. We want to make sure the culture is sustainable long after we're gone.

"We wanted to create a fanbase and a brand that all of Tasmania loves and rallies around the style that we play and enjoy. The wins and losses will be what they will be. We have ticked those first two boxes pretty well."

Caleb Agada was thrust into the hot seat vacated by Dellavedova and delivered 22 points, eight rebounds and two steals while Jo Lual-Acuil had 12 points and eight boards. No other player reached double figures, though.

United coach Dean Vickerman revealed the rival NBL Coach of the Year contender Scott Roth made a special presentation to him after the game and said the match was used an opportunity to play some players into form heading into finals. 

"Scott just presented me with a cigar for getting to first place. It gives him a lot of credit as a person for doing that. If he gets Coach of the Year, I will have a little present for him," Vickerman said.

"Certainly coming into the game we wanted to have some guys who not been putting the ball into the hole as well as we would have liked recently. 

"Caleb had certainly had a tough patch with his shooting. Baba is still getting acclimatised to us and it was a good opportunity for Mason Peatling. Hopefully those guys walk out this game with a lot of confidence going into the finals.

"We only had seven assists ... we were a little bit selfish tonight and didn't execute as we should have. We didn't create the shots that we should have and that will be the focus for us going into Game 1 of the finals and make sure we correct that."

The intensity was there from the JackJumpers from the first whistle. When they had the ball pinched off them, Tasmania just went and stole the ball back from Chris Goulding - twice. 

With a perfect clip from the field the home side quickly skipped out to a 12-5 lead. Even off-balance, Adams found nothing but net as the JackJumpers went 3/3 from long range and United was getting blown off the court.

Agada turned into a one-man army for United in the absence of Dellavedova with seven of his side's first nine points. United went about their business with a 10-0 run to level the scores, and to end up leading 20-18 lead despite trailing by as many as 10. 

Tasmania settled into the grind as well and points became a premium. It took four minutes before Shea Ili finally broke the deadlock with the first triple of the second quarter to give United a five-point advantage. 

Tasmania accelerated, though, even with Adams in foul trouble and McIntosh stole the lead back for his side. Then the import splashed a vital triple to keep United at arm's length. But Melbourne just kept surging and took a 37-33 lead into half-time.

The JackJumpers shot out with a 9-2 to start the second half, though, with Jack McVeigh securing a rebound, taking two steps backwards and splashing a triple to push the lead out to five. 

Adams then displayed some razzle-dazzle with a no-look reverse lay-up landing and he earned a whistle for his trouble. Matt Kenyon scored his first points, the Tasmania crowd was lifting the roof and the JackJumpers were up by eight courtesy of a 17-5 run. 

When Adams rammed home a dunk and the United bench was put on the floor, and if that was Melbourne's gift to United, Tasmania ripped off the wrapping with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old at Christmas to explode to a near unassailable 18-point lead. 

They carried a 16-point lead into the final quarter and you could feel the energy in MyState Bank Arena all the way in Perth. 

Over to you, Wildcats.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 21

TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 83 (McIntosh 20, Adams 19, Magette 14)

MELBOURNE UNITED 61 (Agada 22, Lual-Acuil 12, Ili 9) 

BOX SCORE 

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