JackJumpers’ secret weapon key to game two win

Chris Pike |

Majok Deng (5) delivered for the JackJumpers when they needed it against Perth Wildcats.
Majok Deng (5) delivered for the JackJumpers when they needed it against Perth Wildcats.

Majok Deng produced his best performance in Tasmania JackJumpers colours when it mattered most, and he needed to because not only was Marcus Lee suspended, Will Magnay was no guarantee to play either.

The JackJumpers were back home at Hobart’s MyState Bank Arena on Monday night for game two of their NBL Playoff Series. 

They needed to beat the Perth Wildcats to keep their season alive, but things were looking dicey on the big man front.

Trying to win an elimination playoff game without their two former NBA centres could have been a bridge too far for the JackJumpers, but Roth had was a 221-game veteran secret weapon.

Roth always knew when he signed Deng for his first season in Tasmania that he would be a shrewd addition. 

He was playing well too in his first 17 games after starting his career in Adelaide and Cairns, averaging 8.4 points and 2.8 rebounds before suffering an ankle injury.

He stepped it up again to produce his best performance in Monday’s 102-94 win with 18 points, which Roth never doubted.

“Majok Deng was a huge factor tonight, I’m super proud of him because I saw the rehab and all the work he did to try and be ready if his number was called,” he said.

“Tonight he did a wonderful job for us and credit to him for just dropping his head, taking care of himself and rehabbing, and for us it’s just a next-man-up kind of mentality.”

Things escalated dramatically over the weekend after Perth won game one 89-81 at home on Friday with JackJumpers starting centre Lee suspended for a hard foul late on Wildcats import Jordan Usher.

That created quite a stir, but what had been happening quietly was that one of the hottest players in the second half of the NBL season, Magnay, was in doubt with a rib injury for the JackJumpers too.

He ended up in hospital as a precaution on Friday night in Perth before being cleared to fly on Saturday.

Roth marvelled at the toughness of Magnay who put in a crucial performance with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the absence of Lee, who will return for the do-or-die game three in Perth on Wednesday.

“He’s a warrior, he’s a beast and he’s just a tough kid who is quite competitive and has a hell of a fight in him,” Roth said.

“It was obviously an outstanding effort to be quite honest because we didn’t know if he was going to play until about an hour and-a-half before the game.

Once he started to loosen up and get going, he just said let’s go, and we made the decision to start him and he’s just a tough kid, and to have him for two more years is wonderful.”