13/04/2024

Jack McVeigh made the shot of his life to win Game 3 for Tasmania JackJumpers. (Photo: NBL Media)

Jack McVeigh’s game-winner from almost half-court will go down in NBL history. But it could be made even more significant if Tassie can claim its maiden NBL title in front of a home crowd on Thursday night.

The team is now just one win away from securing premiership glory after the 93-91 win.

The McVeigh dagger has already been labelled as ‘one of the biggest shots in NBL history’ and referred to as an ‘all time NBL moment’ or ‘the shot’.

After trailing against Melbourne United for almost the entire game at John Cain Arena last night, McVeigh put it upon himself to carry his team on his shoulders in the final play and put Tassie up 2-1 in the Grand Final Series with a clutch buzzer-beater.

The final play consisted of a Matthew Dellavedova turnover on an in-bounds pass with just eight seconds remaining.

To which Milton Doyle desperately hustled to keep the ball alive and found the hot hands of McVeigh deep in the backcourt.

The 27-year-old dribbled down the court seemingly unaware of the pressure on him and magnitude of the moment he was about to create.

He pulled up from just inside half-court to nail a deep three and essentially called game with 1.2 seconds left on the clock.

The time ran out as Dellavedova heaved a long ball out of bounds and it was pandemonium as Tasmania’s entire bench ran onto the court erupting in celebration. The players swarmed the man of the moment as more than 10,000 spectators took a moment to process what had just happened.

McVeigh executed the miracle game-winner with a composure as though he had done it before. And that’s because he has. McVeigh hit a buzzer-beater to defeat Cairns in OT earlier in the season, proving he is no stranger to making tough shots look easy and has ice in his veins.

While the JackJumpers only held the lead for a couple minutes of the whole match, they made sure they were in front in the only moment that mattered, the final buzzer. The last few minutes epitomised championship basketball with frantic pressure and hustle from both sides. The lead changed seven times in the final three minutes of the game.

Melbourne started the game well in front of their home crowd quickly going on an eight-point run to get out to a 15-6 lead. Before Tassie also found their biggest scoring run and reduced the margin back to three.

After a strong second term from the JackJumpers led by Doyle who cashed in with 11 first-half points which included back-to-back threes. Chris Goulding and Ian Clark who are so reliable at converting on the three-ball for United weren’t getting their shots to fall and it looked as though Tassie would take a half-time lead. Before Goulding banked a deep three pointer on the buzzer to get in front 44-43 at the main break and find himself some rhythm.

Doyle got in foul trouble early picking up his third and fourth just 80 seconds into the second half. While he played limited minutes in the third, he was back to his damaging best in the fourth and got through the game unscathed. Had Doyle been fouled out during the third, the seven-point lead that United took into the fourth term would’ve likely been too big of a mountain for the relentless JackJumpers to climb.

McVeigh finished with 18 points which included shooting an impressive 4/5 from beyond the arc. Among these was the shot of a lifetime. Majok Deng also had a huge impact late in the game, coming on to shoot the lights out and score 15 points in the fourth and keep his team firmly in the contest. The rest of the point scorers were pretty even as Doyle and Jordon Crawford (both 14 points) and Sean Macdonald (13 points) contributed well.

The JackJumpers celebrate the win after Jack NBLMcVeigh hit what has been called ‘one of the biggest shots in NBL history’. (Photo: Tasmania JackJumpers)

Championship Dellavedova continued on the night as the United superstar dropped 21 points, including eight assists and three steals. While captain Chris Goulding was his usual self, scoring 17 points. Luke Travers (14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks) was another standout for the side.

Tasmania coach Scott Roth said the team would enjoy the celebrations but knew the job of defending the island was not yet complete.

“We’ll celebrate and have some excitement and enjoyment … (but) it’s just another shot. If we happen to win the championship, they’ll talk about it, but right now it’s just another half-court shot that went in,” he said.

“He’s had two of them this year and he’s just one of those guys that loves those kinds of moments.

“We just have to now come back down and start recuperating and getting ready.”

Tasmania dominated off the glass pulling down 48-38 rebounds, including 21 offensive rebounds, which helped generate a lot of second-chance three-point looks for the visitors as they knocked down 16/33 in total threes.

United coach Dean Vickerman spoke about these areas and said they were a “massive factor” in the result of the game.

“The two areas that you need to be good against this team is how you box out and how you guard the three-point line, and we weren’t good enough in either of those areas today,” he said.

It is back to Hobart for Game 4 of the Championship Series on Thursday night, with tip-off from 7.30pm AEDT. It is do or die for United while the JackJumpers can almost taste the ultimate success.

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