Phoenix rocks Taipans in overtime thriller
It may have taken one of the greatest clutch shooting streaks in NBL history, but the South East Melbourne Phoenix have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Cairns Taipans in a stunning overtime win.
With the game slipping away, to say import sharpshooter John Roberson caught fire would be a gross understatement.
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Down six with 13 seconds left, Roberson's three-pointer to begin a run of 19-straight points cut the lead to three.
A Dane Pineau steal from the ensuing Cairns inbound gave Roberson another look and he would make no mistake, sending the game into overtime.
Roberson's incredible stretch through overtime was only interrupted by a DJ Newbill bucket for Cairns, as the Kansas City native nailed six three pointers in 3 minutes and 40 seconds off basketball to put the team on his back and carry it home in a 112-105 win.
NBL legend Chris Anstey was blown away by the performance.
"He was incredible, that five minutes of basketball was as good as I've seen all season," Anstey said.
"You would travel a long way around the world to see someone shoot the ball that well and we've got it right here at home."
Roberson would finish with 32 points, with eight three point makes, but he wasn't the only man to catch fire, with veteran Tasmanian point guard Adam Gibson draining five three pointers of his own in a vintage 25-point display.
Mitch Creek did Mitch Creek things on his way to 25 points and nine rebounds, but the night was Roberson's.
"It's one of those performances... I'll go home and watch it tonight," coach Simon Mitchell said after Roberson's offensive explosion prevented what would have been a sixth Phoenix loss in seven games.
"I wasn't enjoying it maybe as much as the crowd because I'm still thinking 'how the hell can we lose this when we are up 10 in overtime'.
"It was something to behold, wasn't it?"
Taipans coach Mike Kelly was proud of how his team fought back to take control of the second half but frustrated with costly late turnovers.
"We turned the ball over and they made threes," Kelly said after the loss.
"I think if you're six down with less than a minute to go and the other team has the ball, I think you have to have a little luck and they kept in the fight.
"We helped them out and they made some threes, then they finished it off in overtime."
For Cairns, big man Cam Oliver continued his strong play with 23 points and 13 boards, while DJ Newbill splashed 30, but it was one to forget for mullet-headed reserve Jarrod Kenny, whose pair of turnovers late allowed Roberson to tie the scores.
Phoenix had lost five of its past six games and risked losing touch with the top four, but the win squares the win-loss ledger at 7-7, leaving them a win out of third place, with a short turnaround at New Zealand Breakers on Friday night.