Hungry Jack's NBL
JackJumpers Make History with Win in Perth
The Tasmania JackJumpers have sent the Perth Wildcats a stark reminder in just their second game back at RAC Arena that it gives them no guarantees with a historic shock upset 85-82 win over the NBL's powerhouse.
After months on the road, the Wildcats were playing their second game back home and looking to capitalise even with Mitch Norton (hamstring) and Michael Frazier (illness) missing.
No one handed the JackJumpers the script though, with the new team on the block putting together the right gameplan and executing it to perfection in the biggest upset of the season. Not even 12 stitches to the head of Jarrad Weeks from an errant elbow could take the gloss off what they achieved.
The JackJumpers became the first new club to beat the Wildcats on their home court since the West Sydney Razorbacks in 1998 - and have announced that they are still in the hunt to challenge for the #NBL22 finals.
The match was well and truly in the balance in the final minute with the Wildcats leading by a point.
Former Wildcat Clint Steindl (15 points, three rebounds, two assists) showed great poise and professionalism to take a bump and put his side ahead by two before a Todd Blanchfield (19 points, four rebounds) dunk levelled things up again.
With 16 seconds left on the clock, Josh Adams had ice in his veins to splash a crucial three-pointer to give the JackJumpers the advantage. Then when Josh Magette stripped the ball from Blanchfield on the baseline, the historic victory was in the books.
It could get worse for Perth ahead of their huge showdown with Sydney. Superstars Vic Law and Bryce Cotton were both left limping at different times in the match, the former needing off-court treatment to return to the fray.
It was a defensive masterclass from Tasmania who simply out-ran and out-worked their opponents and made the most of their opportunities - with just three turnovers in the first three-quarters testament to their ball security.
They shared the offensive load with Jack McVeigh standing tall with 19 rebounds, seven rebounds and three assists.
He was assisted by Steindl, Josh Adams (14 points, five rebounds, five assists), Josh Magette (11 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Fabijan Krslovic (11 points, six rebounds).
Tasmania coach Scott Roth was soaking up the enormity of what his side had achieved post-game.
"These guys never cease to amaze me. The continue to buy into everything we are doing, building a team culture, laying a great foundation with a lot of grit and determination," he said.
"They battle and they for fight for each other, it's fun to be part of. To win in this building is not easy, we are humbled but still hungry. We have seven more games, let's see what we can do."
Roth joked that Weeks looked like 'Frankenstein' but said he was not concerned about concussion.
"He's not real smart anyway, a hit to the head is something that will help in the long run," he laughed.
"It is just stitches right now ... we will see what the doctor says."
Despite his injury setback, Vic Law had 16 points and 10 boards while Cotton filled his boots with 23 points, four rebounds and three assists. There was little assistance from the bench, though and for the most part, Perth was just too well guarded.
An emotional Scott Morrison praised Tasmania's effort but admitted his side was beaten in the toughness and effort areas.
"They wanted it more. They showed great skill, hit tough shots down the stretch but it was their effort that won them the game," Morrison said.
"They played hard, cut hard, guarded more physically and they destroyed us on the glass. I will take a team like Adelaide beating us on the glass by a couple of rebounds or teams bigger than us.
But there is no excuse for a team playing small to be beating us on the glass. All of those things I said means they wanted it more."
Perth might have been getting used to being back home, but the visiting Tasmanians were keen to crash the party, shooting 4/5 to open the game and streak out to an early 9-4 lead.
The Weeks incident made life difficult, but the JackJumpers did not shy away from their defensive assignment and played a furious brand of D to stifle the Wildcats.
Perth coach Scott Morrison read his side the riot act during a timeout, but the reality was Tasmania was playing at a higher level than their more fancied opponents. It translated on the scoreboard with the JackJumpers taking a 27-20 advantage into the first break.
Perth is known for running down leads quickly, so it wasn't alarm bells ... yet. But the suffocating JackJumpers defence was doing the job and when a McVeigh open look splashed home it was 37-25 and there were some nervous faces in the crowd.
Blanchfield was helping to keep the scoreboard ticking over and when Travers took a bump, got to the rack and hit the ensuing foul shot suddenly Perth had an 8-0 run under their belt and were back to within four points.
When Law hit a triple to bring it back to within one point, the crowd was in raptures. When Cotton took the lead a triple of his own, the noise could have lifted the roof off RAC Arena.
Tasmania had their noses in front just before halftime, but Cotton hit a triple, drew a foul and ensured it was his side in front 48-46 at the main break.
In a game of swings and roundabouts, the momentum swung in Tasmania's favour after the break. Not only did Adams hit his first shot of the night to reclaim the lead, Perth also lost Law to an ankle injury.
Tasmania was feeling it, hitting four triples in the opening three minutes of the quarter to push their advantage out to four. Compounding Perth's pain, Cotton started limping as well after a knee-on-knee collision. It didn't stop him from hitting a triple straight afterwards, though.
Law returned for the Wildcats late in the quarter but it was the JackJumpers who took a slender 69-67 lead heading into the final quarter.
Adams became the latest casualty of the evening, hitting the deck in the third quarter clutching at his groin and his side trailing by three points.
The Wildcats were threatening to pull away as the Tasmania shots dried up, but a McVeigh triple with two minutes left on the clock ensured there was only one point in it - setting up a huge finish. And it was the JackJumpers who held their nerve.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 17
PERTH WILDCATS 83 (Cotton 23, Blanchfield 19, Law 16)
TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 85 (McVeigh 19, Steindl 15, Adams 14)