URBAN Knights pulled off a thrilling 71-69 points win over defending champions Tivoli Wizard to capture the 2012 FLOW National Basketball League Championship at the National Arena on Tuesday night.
As a result of the win, the Knights clinched the best-of-three finals 2-1 after winning the first on Saturday before the Wizard won the second match at the National Arena last Sunday 61-58 points to turn it into a third-game decider after the series was locked at 1-1. It's the third title triumph for the Knights
The Knights collected the winner's championship trophy and cheque of $300,000, while runners-up Wizard walked away with a trophy and $200,000. Third-placed Runnin' Rebels picked up $100,000 and a trophy, while fourth-placed St George's Slayers collected $50,000.
Wizard's Omar Barnes was adjudged player of Tuesday night's game.
The game was played at a blistering pace; the final quarter favouring the Knights and leading to their victory. Knights, who trailed the Wizard for the first three quarters, turned up the pressure on their opponents in the last five minutes to secure an exciting win.
The victors only took the lead at 3-2 from a three-pointer before the defending champion regained the lead at 9-8 after a timeout from the Knights after five minutes of action.
Andre Murray, Fernandez Young, Kwame Lawrence, Ian Gooden, and Arthur Martin, who started the game for the Knights, had difficulty with their three-pointer-shot attempts, but their opposing quintet of Duken Brown, Mowanga Campbell, Troy Campbell, Omar Barnes, and Anthony Farquharson looked more positive in their approach to end the quarter 19-16.
Knights closed the lead to 19-18 at the beginning of the second quarter, and from a fast break, tied the scores for the first time at 23-23. The Wizard scored three unanswered baskets to increase the lead to 29-23 that included a brilliant slam-dunk from Barnes that drew applause from the fans.
With the Wizard looking to pull away into a commanding lead, the Knights fought back with three straight baskets to even the scores 29-29 as a ding-dong tussle ensued before the half-time break with the at 35-35.
The Knights went up 37-35 with 25 seconds remaining with the Wizard's Brown scoring his two shots from the free throw line to go into the half-time interval locked at 37-37.
Third quarter action saw the scores tied twice at 39-39 and 41-41 with Knights' Tommy McDonald hitting a three-pointer and another basket to put them in front 46-41. The Wizard pulled back with two straight baskets to close the lead (46-45) before putting their nose ahead (49-48) after five minutes.
The teams were tied at 51-51 with Knights going up 54-51 with Barnes scoring two consecutive baskets to give Tivoli a 57-54 lead at the final break.
As expected, the fourth and final quarter produced some brilliant plays from both sides as the keen hustle for points picked up momentum. In the process, the Knights missed a number of shots from the free throw line as Wizard capitalised to move ahead by nine points (64-55). Timeout was taken by Wizard at 64-62 with five minutes 17 seconds remaining on the clock as Knights coach Oneil Brown and his opposite number Edward Marshall rotated players.
Knights' Young scored a three-pointer for 65-64 lead with five minutes remaining as the pace quickened resulting in shots being missed and a number of steals being produced by the two teams.
Another timeout was taken by Tivoli with 2:45 minutes left with Knights leading 66-64, but following the restart, the defending champions scored quickly to tie at 66-66 with 1:42 minutes remaining.
Two consecutive baskets were scored by the Knights to move them to 70-66 with 43 seconds remaining and they added one further point from the free throw line to make their lead 71-66 with 23.1 seconds left.
The Wizard needed to score quick points in the closing seconds, but the Knights gave them little opportunities by producing a number of fine steals, and it was all over for the defending champions despite a late three-pointer with two seconds remaining.
For the Knights, Fernandez Young led the scoring with 18 points, including four steals, eight assists and four rebounds, Andre' Murray with 11 points and Kwame Lawrence with 10 points, while for the Wizard's Omar Barnes had 18 points, including seven steals and nine rebounds, and Antony Farquharson with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Winning coach Brown said after the victory that it was "very good and I am overwhelming on how the team played".
Losing coach Marshall had this to say after his defeat: "It was a very good and exciting game, but the team lost out on a number of turnovers they produced in the last five minutes of the fourth and final quarter."