Geraldton Buccaneers’ buzzer-beating three-point shot reviewed by NBL1 West League

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Buccaneers celebrate number 23 Mat Wundenburg's spectacular shot.
Camera IconGeraldton Buccaneers celebrate number 23 Mat Wundenburg's spectacular shot. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

The NBL1 West League has conceded it made the wrong call by awarding Geraldton Buccaneers centre Mat Wundenberg a full-court buzzer-beater in a heart-stopping three-point win over the Rockingham Flames on Saturday night.

However the League has backed the referee’s decision, letting the Buccs keep the round five win.

Their first home game since their 2019 championship win ended in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, thanks to a countdown full-court shot by captain Mat Wundenberg.

Wundenberg brought down a rebound after a missed final shot by the Flames with less than five seconds on the clock.

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He controlled the ball and threw a miracle baseball shot from full court, which banked off the backboard and went in, causing Active West Stadium to erupt in excitement.

The three-pointer from the 440-game veteran nabbed the Buccs the game, 85-82.

Buccaneer Taine Wattie tries to get past FlameTravis Durnin.
Camera IconBuccaneer Taine Wattie tries to get past FlameTravis Durnin. Credit: Arctic Moo Photography

NBL1 West officials came together at centre court to deliberate and, without access to a replay system, made the call that the shot was released in time and the score counted, giving the Geraldton Buccaneers the win.

But following a review of the game replay, NBL1 General Manager Adam Bowler said the shot was released a fraction after the siren and should have been disallowed, sending the game into overtime.

“Our officials are only human, and if you watch the game back in real-time, it is difficult to tell if the shot was released in time,” he said.

It is not until you slow it down and use the video system can you tell if the clock was expired when the shot was released.

“As per the NBL1 rules, our officials do not have access to an instant replay system, so they have to make a call as they see it, which is an incredibly difficult task for this particular situation.”

He said while it was an amazing shot and a great win by the Buccs, he felt for the Rockingham Flames who lost a game that in hindsight deserved to have gone into overtime.

“While the call upon review was incorrect, we 100% back our referees in this instance,” he said.

Bowler said NBL1 West was continuing to investigate the opportunities for an instant replay system in future seasons, but there were financial and resourcing issues currently preventing it from being introduced.

Remarkably, it was only the sixth three-pointer of Wundenberg’s career, with Buccaneers coach Dayle Joseph saying the league’s review did not take away from the stunning shot.

“It could be the same for a bunch of other calls that were made that night, there was about three other calls that we probably could have pushed to have been reviewed,” he said.

“It’s pretty much as we see in the AFL if the umpire didn’t give a free kick in the goal square in a final 10 seconds.

It’s an umpire’s decision, and if that’s their call it has to be respected if there’s no instant replay.

He said it was a relief for the team to win before having to go into overtime.

“If you watch basketball a bit, someone is always throwing one of those shots up at the end of a quarter or half to get a last-ditch opportunity,” he said.

“Probably more the distance and the timing; the end of the game was fantastic and a good way for us to win. It would be a terrible way to lose.

“It was a bit of a relief at the win. I think our boys toiled really hard. Mathiang Muo, Aaron Ralph and Mat Wundenburg played the bulk of the minutes. I think we would have been tested going into overtime, so it was great to pinch that win.”

Geraldton Buccaneer Mathiang Muo being defended by Rockingham Flame Greg Hire.
Camera IconGeraldton Buccaneer Mathiang Muo being defended by Rockingham Flame Greg Hire. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

Muo proved to be a stand-out among the squad, earning 34 points across the game for the Buccs, while Aaron Ralph was presented with a plaque at the start of the match to mark his 400th game with the club, giving them plenty to celebrate on Saturday night.

“It was pretty tight all the way though. I don’t think the margin got out too far. I think we lead most of the games; the Flames sort of toiled away and hit the front towards the end,” Joseph said.

“Comparing us from a week ago, when we played at Kalgoorlie to now, we improved a lot of our offensive structures and stuck to them a little bit better.

“I think we proved if we stick to our game plan, it can work for us. We’re still a long way off but I think we made good progress in a week.”

Buccaneers lifetime member Aaron Ducas presenting Aaron Ralph with 400 game plaque.
Camera IconBuccaneers lifetime member Aaron Ducas presenting Aaron Ralph with 400 game plaque. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

After their first hit-out for 2021 on their home court was delayed by the COVID-19 lockdown and cyclone Seroja, the Buccs will stay put this weekend and go up against Lakeside Lightning from North Lake in Perth at Activewest Stadium. Joseph said the Lightning would pose the Buccs a big challenge.

“They’ve had a couple of big, big wins by 50-plus points ... they shoot the ball a lot from the three-point line and make it hard for us to defend that,” he said.

“We’ll have to do a few things at training to restrict those opportunity they give ourselves.”

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