Big play threatens to lift roof off the YMCA
Big Baller Brand could rightly claim to having taken the roof off the YMCA in terms of a crowd reaction to their B Grade top-tier final win against the Massive Marauders.
Malachi Furlan (5 points) came from the weak side — opposite the ball — and rebounded Fraser Robb's three-point shot attempt from the right wing to score for 57-55 at the buzzer in overtime.
That one-in-a-1000 play — to decide arguably the closest and tightest game played at the YMCA in the past seven weeks — was one worthy of a grand final.
With milliseconds involved, the only comparison to be drawn in GBA finals history is with Jimmy Wilson's implausible, seemingly impossible, two-dribble three-pointer in 0.34 of a second for Purp and Yellow in their 50-48 grand final win against Ray Noble's Blades in 2011.
Brand captain Carlos Pedraza scored 34 points to lead all scorers in all games in Week 7.
He said: “We left it all out there on the court — we were gritty, fighting for every rebound and loose ball. Big credit to the Marauders, they are a very solid team and, honestly, the game could've gone either way.”
The Brand led 16-9, 29-25 and 39-35 before the scores were tied, 51-all, at the end of regulation time; overtime under Gisborne Basketball Association rules is three minutes long.
Pedraza's fellow sharpshooter Kaea Swann (11pts) opened the scoring with the first of his three three-pointers, Pedraza getting in on the act from the right wing and the left corner.
He made that shot from the corner over a defender's raised arm to end the first period.
Pedraza and Swann dropped more bombs after quartertime but the Massive Marauders' Adam Harford (14pts) followed up a tough shot under the hoop by Kahn Grayson (20pts) to close it to 29-25 with the best pass of the first half: an assist to Grayson. Harford hit him on the run right-side with a length-of-the-court, pinpoint delivery.
In the third period, Harford got the ball to his captain, Stefan Pishief (12pts), low left-side for 29-29 and in the fourth quarter, looked to take charge: his footwork and shooting touch was all class.
The referees maintained a high level of vigilance, Ethan Ngarangione-Pearson nabbing Grayson for stepping out of court with 4.4 seconds left in regulation time.
The scores then tied at 51-all, Grayson — looking to run the clock down — kept his control dribble in the front-court, left side. The double team came. Grayson held the ball up and away from the pair on the baseline and Ngarangione-Pearson, closest as lead official, called him out off his right (non-pivot) foot as he spun away — then back towards — the Brand defenders.
Such a call points to great positioning, concentration and basketball sense.
Pishief said: “I'm proud of the Marauders. Carlos is a very special player who can hit shots from anywhere — and it can be demoralising when he hits them even as he's got guys on him. Still, we managed to take the lead before the end, and if you are going to lose a final, then what better way is there than by one point in OT?”