The Roar
The Roar


JackJumpers dig deep to level the NBL Championship Series with a thrilling second-half comeback

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22nd March, 2024

The Tasmania JackJumpers were staring down the barrel of an almost unassailable deficit to start the second half, but they fired back to beat Melbourne United 82-77 and level the NBL Championship Series.

Melbourne won the opening game of the best-of-five series by 23 points at home on Sunday, and with veteran guard Chris Goulding (19 points) leading the charge, went on an 11-0 run to start the second half at a sold-out MyState Bank Arena in Hobart on Friday.

That burst had United leading by 15 points, and when Tasmania big man Will Magnay also picked up a fourth foul, it looked like it might be a mountain too high for the JackJumpers.

But Jack McVeigh (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists) lifted them back into the contest to close the third quarter and cut the deficit to three.

Despite Tasmania going up by five with two-and-a-half minutes to go, it still went down to the wire, but the JackJumpers did enough.

Getting Jo Lual-Acuil (nine points, 11 rebounds) and Shea Ili (20 points) out of the game with five fouls proved instrumental.

Tasmania Jackjumpers NBL Finals

Will Magnay of the Jackjumpers dunks the ball during game two of the NBL Championship Grand Final Series against Melbourne United. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)


The series is tied at one win apiece, with the third game in Melbourne on Sunday. It is guaranteed to return to Hobart at least for game four next Thursday.

Tasmania’s import point guard Jordon Crawford was the one to get going early, having come into the game scoring 12 points over his past three games on 5-of-28 shooting.

He had 13 points in six minutes of game two but wouldn’t score again and took just two shots in the last three quarters.

The JackJumpers had plenty of others stepping up, with development player Sean Macdonald coming up huge with 13 points in 30 minutes.

Milton Doyle was hounded all evening by Ili’s defence but had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Marcus Lee added eight points, six boards and three blocks, and Magnay battled foul trouble again for seven points and five rebounds.


JackJumpers coach Scott Roth was full of praise for his team’s fighting performance to level the series.

“I thought it was just a gutsy effort really at the end of the day,” he said.

“They kept their composure, figured out some things and we made a nice run to get it back to a manageable level. Then holding them to 14 points defensively in the fourth quarter was fantastic.”

Melbourne managed just 22 points in the final 17 minutes of the game, going from leading by 15 to lose by five while shooting 38 per cent from the field.

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United coach Dean Vickerman quickly turned his attention to Sunday’s game three back in Melbourne.


“I didn’t really enjoy the time between games, I would have preferred to play sooner but now we have bodies to take care of,” he said.

“I’m sure everyone got through that game well so we’ll review it tonight, talk about it tomorrow and hopefully have an absolutely sold out crowd at John Cain waiting for us.”