Sometimes all you need is luck. The Melbourne Tigers had everything to lose in the clash with three-time NBL champion New Zealand Breakers on Sunday but rode some heroic plays and last-second luck to claim an emotional 84-82 win at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
A seesawing final term left the Tigers ahead 82-80 with 25 seconds left and the Breakers holding possession.
Breakers import Gary Wilkinson (20 points) wriggled free to make a long two-pointer to tie scores with 20 seconds left, then Tigers import Mustapha Farrakhan (20 points) was fouled and made one of two free throws giving his side a one-point lead.
Breakers forward Thomas Abercrombie (18 points) missed a jump shot on the next play and Lucas Walker rebounded and was fouled. Walker made one of his two shots for 84-82 with eight seconds left giving the Breakers the ball but Mark Worthington (21 points) fouled Abercrombie with four seconds left giving the Breakers one last play to win.
The inbound pass was bobbled by Mika Vukona who managed to pass it to CJ Bruton outside the three-point line for a game-winning shot.
But Farrakhan rose high to get a hand on Bruton's shot as the buzzer sounded and Tigers players hugged for joy. Tigers coach Chris Anstey praised his players' efforts but was disappointed they only shot 14 of 26 free throws.
''I think we deserved a result like that because over the past few weeks it's felt like we haven't had much luck,'' he said. ''We might have got a little bit of luck as a couple of shots rolled out and Chris Goulding took a rebound out of Vukona's hands.
''You kind of got the feeling in the last few weeks those shots would have trickled in - it was nice to feel like we didn't get unlucky.''
Farrakhan celebrated with vigour as the buzzer sounded, pounding his chest to his new fans. ''I just wanted to be in his space; I was fortunate enough to get the block,'' he said.
The Tigers visit in-form Townsville this Saturday night.
Melbourne Tigers 84 (M Worthington 21, M Farrakhan 20, C Goulding 14) d New Zealand Breakers 82 (G Wilkinson 20, T Abercrombie 18, R Te Rangi 11) at the State Netball and Hockey Centre. Crowd: 3500.