JackJumpers fight on in NBL, beat Phoenix

Fraser Barton |

Tasmania JackJumpers live to fight another day in the NBL, courtesy of a stellar 84-80 come-from-behind victory over South East Melbourne Phoenix.

In a do-or-die Easter Sunday clash, the JackJumpers overcame a 15-point second-quarter deficit to keep their post-season push alive and send the Phoenix crashing out of any potential final-four finish.

Jarrad Week’s three-pointer on the buzzer to end the first half narrowed the margin to 12, before the JackJumpers started the third quarter on a 9-2 run as they outscored the hosts 32-18 in the term.

With the scores locked at 71-71, Jack McVeigh (career high 26 points) nailed a three off an extra possession before Josh Magette and Josh Adams both fired from beyond the arc to give the visitors a four-point buffer.

The JackJumpers, who were heavily out-rebounded 24-13 in the first half, hustled on the glass late in the game and held on to prevail as the Phoenix went ice-cold in the final stages.

Tasmania (16-11), who play Melbourne United in their final regular-season game, need Perth Wildcats (16-10) to slip up in their two remaining games to have any chance of snatching a top-four spot.

An emotional JackJumpers coach Scott Roth said his side are incredible in their ability to continue fighting.

“I’m proud, I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said after they defeated the Phoenix for the first time this season.

“These guys have been incredible… It’s emotional for me the way we’ve invested in each other and they’re an amazing group.

“To see where this team has come from.

“I think we were two and six at one point and now we flip the script and gone 14 and five — just a great effort by my staff and these players.”

Restricted to just 14 fourth-quarter points, Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell admitted their failure to corral rebounds cost them but their focus doesn’t change heading into their final two games.

“We did some good things but we put them on line way too much, gave up those o-boards,” he said.

“Nothing changes for the next two games… we’re just scratching the surface, we’re really quite a ways off where we need to be on both sides of the ball.

“That’s still our goal for the next two games.”

In good news for the Phoenix, star Mitch Creek put any doubt about his future at the club to bed saying he’s not interested in signing elsewhere.

The 29-year-old played down speculation he may test the market.

“If I play anywhere in the NBL it’s going to be at the South East Melbourne Phoenix,” he told reporters.

“Everyone at home trying to be a keyboard warrior and whatever it is they want to try and say, rumours and all that …  just pipe down.

“I’m signing with South East Melbourne. It’s simple as that.”