JackJumpers secure first NBL win and Tasmania’s support

JackJumpers captain Clint Steindl celebrating the win post-match. Picture: Tasmania JackJumpers

Before the final buzzer sounded it was clear the JackJumpers had already won their NBL debut in one aspect, Tasmania’s heart was theirs.

A nine-point win over the Brisbane Bullets in overtime was just the exclamation mark on their barnstorming arrival as the league’s 10th franchise.

Despite only existing for a little over a year and playing in their first ever game, the JackJumpers not only filled a sold out MyState Bank Arena on Friday, but the state’s quarter-century hole in NBL oblivion.

Within the opening minutes of regulation, the crowd made it clear that this is Tasmania’s team.

“We’re trying to build something special here,” JackJumpers coach Scott Roth said post-match.

“The fanbase is the one thing we have to continue to build from the north to the south, it’s been one of the missions since I’ve been here from day one.”

The excitement was palatable, an energy the team seemingly fed off when it jumped out to an early lead.

Sam McDaniel, the JackJumpers’ inaugural signing and the son of Hobart Devils great Wayne, fittingly scored the first bucket in franchise history.

Josh Magette was not only a talisman on the court running the point, but commanded the crowd as well.

Just in the first term alone, his effort and hustle at ground level to win the ball, and three on the buzzer from deep are moments that will forever be remembered from the team’s debut.

The JackJumpers hot start was quickly cut down by Nathan Sobey though, the Olympic Bronze Medalist dropped 16 points in the first half to make it just a one-point deficit at half-time.

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But it was after the major break that shooting guard Josh Adams, who couldn’t find his radar in the first half, came out firing.

The JackJumpers first NBL import, Adams admitted when he signed back in July that he didn’t know much about the state, his only point of reference being his favourite Space Jam character “Taz” the Tasmanian devil.

But Adams’ ascension into a crowd favourite continued on Friday, a hero for a place he knew nothing about less than half a year ago.

Whenever he had the ball in his hands he brought the crowd to its feet, revealing a splattering of “Taz” themed Looney Tunes jerseys throughout the arena, with several sporting Adams’ number 14 on the back.

“It was kind of mind-blowing, everyone was very excited and we definitely felt that energy,” Adams said on the crowd.

“I think they (the crowd) had a lot riding on it with it being their first time of having a professional basketball game.

“As far as the energy and love they showed to this JackJumpers team, it was one of the most special moments for sure.”

Throughout the match, Tasmania lacked polish and made mistakes, symptomatic of a team playing in its first game.

But one aspect that never wavered was how they scrapped and fought for every single possession.

“It wasn’t pretty, we’re not a sexy team, but we are very competitive and tough-minded,” said Roth.

“We have to be a little bit different I think in order to compete in the league, and I want to hang our hat on a lot of pressure and energy.

“Defence is going to be the number one thing, I’ve been preaching it since day one.”

The Bullets managed to close the gap and take the lead in the fourth, setting up a tight finish as time ticked down.

Will Magnay sunk three free throws to give Tasmania the advantage, but with ice in his veins, Sobey drained a clutch three to ultimately send the game to overtime.

But it was Sobey’s ejection less than two minutes into OT that proved to be the beginning of the end for the Bullets.

An alley-oop dunk straight afterwards from Adams only exacerbated his exit, with MyState Bank Arena reaching a fever pitch as momentum squarely shifted in the home side’s favour.

The final nail was delivered through two three pointers from McDaniel and Jack McVeigh to seal the win.

“Obviously in a game like this there’s a tremendous amount of emotion with everything involved to get to today,” Roth said on going into overtime.

“I thought our guys for the most part were very level-headed and kept their composure throughout.

“The pressure built down the end out there, but they continued to grind, get big rebounds and make shots when we needed to.”

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About Hamish Spence 52 Articles
Hamish writes about Aussie Rules, cricket, basketball and all things Tasmanian sport for The Inner Sanctum. His experience includes working for organisations like 10 News First, AFL Tasmania, The Mercury, the TSL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Draft Central. He recently finished a media degree at The University of Tasmania.

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