THE MELBOURNE Tigers with the NBL trophy after winning game five against Sydney on Friday night. Nathan Crosswell is third from
THE MELBOURNE Tigers with the NBL trophy after winning game five against Sydney on Friday night. Nathan Crosswell is third from

Tigers dethrone Kings

By Adam Hicks

TWO loud-mouth Sydney Kings fans had nothing left to jeer Nathan Crosswell and his Melbourne Tigers team-mates with as they took a 12-point lead in the final two minutes of NBL grand final series at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Friday night.

The Tigers travelled and triumphed with an 85-73 victory, securing the NBL premiership in front of a record Sydney crowd.

"There were more than 10,000 people there - it was so loud it was an amazing atmosphere," Crosswell, of Ballina, said.

"We don't get crowds that big in basketball very often. There were about 100-200 friends and family that travelled with the team ... the rest were all booing the Tigers.

"There were a couple of blokes behind our bench making life uneasy for us.

"They were bagging me about my free throws, and other guys about what they look like.

"At the end of the day it's all fun and we don't mind it, but it was pretty nice with two minutes to go that they shut up when we went 12 points in front.

"They were at us and at us, and then everyone quietened right down back into their seats."

Speaking from his Melbourne home, the former Ballina junior was still on a high yesterday after winning his first premiership.

"Two years ago I was playing with Cairns and we lost in the semis," he said.

"Last year I moved to Melbourne and we lost to Brisbane in the grand final.

"It just makes it all the more sweeter. I've been playing NBL for nine years. Some guys go through their whole career and never win one.

"It doesn't get any sweeter than winning the whole thing. Hopefully I'll get to feel it again but if I don't at least I know what it feels like.

"It feels awesome!"

But Crosswell admits the team suffered doubts after surrendering an 18-point lead and a chance to wrap up the series at home in game four on Wednesday night.

"We definitely did get worried. We got the lead so quickly and it went away so quickly.

"We all started thinking about winning it and going out and having a party, and before we knew it we lost the game," he said.

"Everyone was pretty down and disappointed. Then we had a recovery session in the pool and watched a tape and we all thought we can pull this out.

"We went in with a mental approach that we can win this.

"And for everyone to get up and perform in game five the way they did, it is fantastic and the result speaks for itself."

Nathan's mother Terri and sister Shari travelled to Sydney for the match but father Bryan was caught up with work commitments at Ballina.

"Dad couldn't make it but it was pretty special to have mum and my sister there. It would've been great to have Dad there but he couldn't do it so we'll just have to win another won for him."



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