The Townsville Crocodiles escaped with a nail-biting 118-114 double-overtime win over a never-say-die Sydney Kings at The Swamp on Saturday night, in one of the best NBL games in recent memory.
Croc Jacob Holmes hit a clutch basket 24.3 seconds from the end of regular time to level the scores at 85-apiece.
Luke Martin then nailed a giant three-point buzzer-beater on the run to tie the scores at 102 and force a second overtime.
Martin, Sydney's leading scorer at the time, Julian Khazzouh and Graeme Dann all fouled out in the sixth period, leaving the Kings severely undermanned.
Townsville's Michael Cedar and Eddie Gill helped the Crocs score 10 unanswered points in the final two minutes to edge four points clear.
But Sydney's Ben Madgen shot a pressure three-pointer with seconds on the clock to silence the deafening crowd and force Cedar to seal the game from the free-throw line.
It was a memorable end for the home side which was celebrating its 20th season in the NBL with festivities including a Croc/Suns Legends vs NBL All Stars curtain raiser.
Townsville coach Paul Woolpert said it was one of the most nerve-wracking games of his coaching career.
"I think I have a few more grey hairs after that one, it was a great basketball game. It must have been great for the fans," he said.
"We came close to snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory but we made a hell of a lot of great basketball plays.
"We talked about different ways of winning the game ... we made some huge free throws tonight."
Sydney coach Ian Robilliard said his side gave up too many free throws but still should have won the game.
"We had our chances to win both in regulation, in the first OT and second OT so full credit to my guys who played exceptionally well," he said.
"I feel gutted because I look at these stats lines - we won the possession count, we won the rebounds by 20, we won the points in the paint by 20 but we give up 43 free throws and there is the game.
"It is disappointing to lose like that ... close enough is not good enough as professional athletes.
Townsville put the Kings to the sword early - Elvin Mims sinking 10 in the opening term - racing ahead by 15 points. But it failed to maintain the pressure and allowed the lead to slip to 27-24 at quarter-time.
The Crocodiles charged ahead by double figures on two more occasions with Cedar, who was scoreless in the first term, scoring 10 points to give his team a 53-45 lead at halftime.
The Kings were a different outfit after the main break and slashed the margin to just one point in the third with Anatoly Bose and Madgen taking control.
Sydney edged seven points in front in the final term, but the Crocodiles fought until the end and Holmes hit his clutch basket.
The two overtime sessions included several momentum swings, but it was Townsville which emerged victorious in a game for the ages.
AAPTags: basketball, sport, nbl, townsville-4810, qld, australia First posted January 15, 2012 00:11:53