Win 19 years in the making for the Geraldton Buccaneers
The look on Mat Wundenberg’s face seconds after the final buzzer in Saturday night’s SBL men’s grand final said it all.
Warmly embracing his best mate and Geraldton Buccaneers teammate Aaron Ralph, tears of joy welled in Wundenberg’s eyes as it began to sink in the Buccs had ended their 19-year championship drought.
But don’t let the 92-80 final score over Joondalup Wolves team fool you into thinking this triumph took place in under two hours.
Collecting the final piece of the seemingly elusive championship jigsaw took all of those 19 years.
During that time, a series of officials, players and volunteers came and went, but they all added something to bring the dream a step closer, from former Buccs general manager Andrew Horstman with his astute front office ability, or former coaches Aaron Trahair and Ray Evans, who brought their respective teams deep into the post-season.
Riding a wave of emotion, the visitors began the game defiantly, with American import Colter Lasher surging his way into the paint from the opening tip-off and ramming home a monster dunk inside the first two seconds.
Lasher’s hustle was infectious, with the Buccs dominating inside the paint, sinking three of their first five shots.
It was a different story for the Wolfpack, who were unable to get their offensive looks to land.
As has so often been the case this season, early inside dominance from the Buccs opened up their offensive gameplan, with Ralph (4/7) Liam Hunt (2/3) and Marcus Alipate (2/4) shining from the three-point line.
Hunt, following in his father Dan’s footsteps, added a new chapter to the Hunt legacy in Geraldton basketball, with an MVP performance – such was his ruthless desire to put his team first.
With the clock working against them, the Wolfpack became noticeably agitated, with former Buccs fan favourite Earnest “EJ” Ross jacking up a series of three-point attempts in a last-ditch bid to trim the margin below double digits.
Buccs coach Dayle Joseph told the Guardian his offensive plan to get the ball into the paint early was executed superbly, while he was equally impressed with how the defence shut out the Wolves’ offensive threats.
Buccs team poster and more stories in today’s Geraldton Guardian AND a souvenir collector’s edition on Friday.
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