Tasmania coach Scott Roth has lauded his side’s resilience after they shocked Perth on their home floor 85-83 to continue their hunt for a top-four NBL finish.
In their maiden game at Perth’s RAC Arena on Thursday, the JackJumpers (11-10) reached new heights in their first NBL campaign as Josh Adams hit a dagger triple to give them a late lead before icing the game from the free throw line.
The victory moves Roth’s side to within two wins of fourth-placed Illawarra as the season enters its final stretch and ends a run of six games unbeaten for Perth (14-7) in the NBL.
“These guys just never cease to amaze me, they just continue to buy in to everything we’re doing, and building a tremendous culture and laying a great foundation,” Roth said.
“Just a lot of grit, determination and they battle, they fight, they’re all for each other and it’s it’s fun to be a part of.”
Marksman Clint Steindl was electric for the JackJumpers, powering them to a 27-20 quarter time lead before the hosts rallied to take a 48-46 buffer into the main break.
The sides then went back-and-forth all throughout the third and fourth quarters with the score level at 80-80 with a minute to play.
Tasmania, with possession, were calm and collected and found Josh Magette for a three-pointer that rattled off, but the point guard hounded his own shot to give his side another look, which Adams buried to shock the Perth crowd.
Bryce Cotton then got a shooter’s touch on his three to bring the score to 84-83, but with Tasmania in the bonus, Adams went to the stripe making his first, before intentionally missing the second as time expired.
With the win, the JackJumpers became the first new expansion team to beat the Wildcats in Perth in their first season since the West Sydney Razorbacks in November 1998.
“When you travel around the world and you get to play in other buildings, when you’re in the NBA you want to win in Los Angeles, you want to win in New York and when you’re in Australia, you want to win in Perth,” Roth said.
“This is one of those places that have a great aura, a great culture and nothing but respect for them.”
Jack McVeigh led Tasmania’s scoring with 19 points with Adams scoring all of his 14 in the second half and Steindl adding 15 against his former side.
For the Wildcats, frustrated coach Scott Morrison said their rebounding needs to improve before they face the streaking Sydney Kings on Saturday.
“I’m upset. I still believe in the team, I can take a loss but it’s just how you lose and I feel like tonight we didn’t give ourselves a chance, we beat ourselves,” Morrison said.
“It would have been nicer if we could have been happier with our performance and still lost, but that’s not the case tonight.
“The fact that it was right in our grasp and we couldn’t get that big rebound just was kind of a negative cherry on top.”