Hungry Jack's NBL
Game Two Report: Wagstaff sparks memorable win
The championship experience of Perth’s Jesse Wagstaff delivered the CPA Australia NBL All Australian team a memorable 72-64 win over China in Guangzhou on Sunday.
When Chinese giant Li Mu Hao hammered home a two-handed jam with just over two minutes to play the home team led by five – and extended that advantage to seven moments later – the Aussies upped the pressure and stole the win.
Wagstaff started his incredible match-winning run by tipping home a missed Lucas Walker free throw, then canned a three-pointer off a Chinese inbounds turnover.
David Barlow stole the following inbounds and tied the game at 64. Wagstaff then penetrated and fed Jason Cadee for the go-ahead triple, before Cadee repaid the favour and the Wildcats sixth man landed another trifecta to seal the deal.
Cadee then lobbed the ball perfectly to Mickell Gladness, who jammed home the final basket of a rare and unforgettable come-from-behind win over the home team on Chinese soil.
Aussies the better
While the Aussies stole the game late, they were the better team for most of the night, playing with a higher level of intensity and cohesiveness than 48 hours earlier.
Coach Andrej Lemanis set the tone by earning a technical foul on the opening play, letting the local officials know his team wouldn’t accept the same treatment as in Game 1.
His team rose to the occasion, their pressure defence unsettling the hosts as they raced to a 23-14 quarter-time lead behind the slick point guard play of Cadee and Adam Gibson and the hustle of Wagstaff and Walker.
After the visitors had shot 77 per cent in the opening term, China turned the screws in the second, youngster Liu Xiao Yu finding Li Mu Hao for a dunk to close the margin to two.
Wagstaff coolly nailed a long bomb to end a seven-minute Aussie drought, then back-to-back dunks from Barlow and Gladness set up a 31-23 advantage at the main break.
Hosts up the ante
China’s pressure and interior presence caused some headaches in the third term as they closed within three thanks to some sloppy Australian passing.
But Wagstaff was everywhere, his offensive board and free throws stemming the tide, then his quarterback pass to Cadee off a defensive board pushed the Aussies ahead 50-39 with 10 minutes to play.
The last quarter was a barnburner, Gladness monstering a Li Mu Hao attempt at one end, only to see Zou Yu Chen spectacularly deny his alley-oop dunk at the other.
Clint Steindl settled Aussie nerves with a three-pointer, but another huge swat from Zou triggered his country’s run, Liu Xiao Yu twice carving up the defence for a score and then dish to Li Mu Hao, whose dunk put China five ahead.
Jesse paints a picture
From there it was Wagstaff time – with a little help from the cool King Cadee and some uncharacteristic Chinese turnovers – as the pony-tailed pest from the west ensured the CPA Australia NBL All Australian team levelled the series at 1-1.
The third and final game is in Beijing on Tuesday night at 9.30pm EST, broadcast live on Fox Sports 503 and at nbl.com.au/china.