Magnay spearheads JackJumpers to NBL finals win

Ethan James |

Will Magnay inspired the Tasmania JackJumpers to a 16-point NBL Finals win over the Illawarra Hawks.
Will Magnay inspired the Tasmania JackJumpers to a 16-point NBL Finals win over the Illawarra Hawks.

A Will Magnay-inspired Tasmania JackJumpers have flexed their muscle to surge past the Illawarra Hawks 92-76 and progress to the next stage of the NBL finals. 

Magnay, who has played in the NBA, notched a career-high 25 points in a physical encounter at a sold out MyState Bank Arena in Hobart.

The 25-year-old big man also picked up 10 rebounds and four blocks in an outstanding 30 minutes on court. 

Magnay surpassed his previous career-best of 23, notched in 2019 for the Brisbane Bullets, after a run of injuries in recent years. 

“It’s a great credit to him to come back,” JackJumpers coach Scott Roth said. 

“I’m really proud of the group. We’re on to where we’re supposed to be, in the finals.”

Tasmania had to overcome the loss of starting big man Marcus Lee, who went down with a shoulder injury in the opening play after a collision with Sam Froling. 

Roth said early assessments indicated a pinched nerve and he was optimistic Lee would be available for Tasmania’s best-of-three play-off against Perth beginning on March 8. 

The sides will face off for a shot at making the best-of-five championship series. 

The JackJumpers have made the finals in each of their three seasons in the NBL and were runners-up in their debut 2021-22 season. 

The Hawks meanwhile have a sudden death play-in showdown with either the Sydney Kings or New Zealand Breakers.

Illawarra coach Justin Tatum said he was disappointed with his side’s effort. 

The Hawks were just 29 from 71 from the field and 10 from 19 at the free-throw line. 

“They set the tone with their play. We didn’t match their energy early and we got ourselves in a hole,” Tatum said. 

Tasmania opened up an 18-point lead midway through the second term before Illawarra clawed their way back to trail by seven heading into the final quarter. 

In front of a raucous crowd, the JackJumpers pulled away with a 22-13 fourth quarter. 

Gary Clark, who tweaked an ankle early, was gallant for Illawarra with a team-high 21 points.

Magnay started on fire, scoring 11 points and picking up five rebounds in the first quarter as the JackJumpers opened up a 29-17 lead.

Clark notched back-to-back threes in the second quarter as the Hawks reduced the gap to 51-44 at half-time. 

JackJumpers’ Jack McVeigh, who top-scored with 26 points, copped an unsportsmanlike foul in the third quarter for dropping a shoulder into rookie Lachlan Olbrich on the ground. 

Tasmania’s Milton Doyle was quiet on the scoresheet with just five points but had a game-high 10 assists.