Corey+Webster+Tomlinson Melbourne

#NBL: Controversial finishes #3MinuteDrill

This week’s NBL action has resulted in two remarkable, and in many ways controversial finishes.

In Melbourne, as the undefeated United hosted the New Zealand Breakers, it all went down to the wire. The final minute saw the usual conga line of fouls and resulting free throws. And then “the call” happened.

I’m not going to go into the fine details — you can read about them elsewhere. In summary: two fouls interactions occurred almost simultaneously. Their handling by the referees was arguably very wrong.

Fans across the internet were up in arms, as tends to happen in these heated situations. The game was a tight battle, arguably decided at the end by the officials rather than the players.

I don’t want to focus on the performance of the officials here. What I do want to focus on is the response by the league.

The NBL undertook a review of the situation and issued a detailed press release, outlining what happened in the situation, their findings and most importantly, their immediate changes to try to mitigate the risk of this being a blight on our league again. Smart management.

It would not be outside the realms of the imaginations of long-time NBL fans to expect the league to be non-responsive on an incident like this. To sweep it under the carpet or simply hope it went away. To issue a short press release with no definitive outcomes or ways to move forward.

Instead, the NBL laid out in reasonable detail their findings, admitting that errors were made. They sat two officials down to be re-educated and they made an immediately effective change to the rules to allow any referee decision to be video-reviewed in the final two minutes of a game. #GoodCall #HardBall.

al harrington sydney kings

Meanwhile, across in Adelaide at Titanium Security Arena, the beleagured Sydney Kings squandered a lead that read 18 points at quarter time, increased to 19 points by half-time and remained at 18 with one quarter remaining. The 36ers put on a powerhouse final period, accelerated by Sydney missing seven straight free throws, and going 2/10 overall in the fourth.

It was the biggest comeback in the history of the 40 minute era. Adelaide rode a combination of Sydney’s errors and the irresistible play of diminutive import point guard Jerome Randle. He was too hard to Randle.

I like graphs and charts. I can’t recall one that paints a more stark picture of a game than this one:

sydney adelaide scoring

Towards the end of the dramatic finish to the game, Sydney coach Damian Cotter was shocked to find that he had one less timeout than expected. The lack of a timeout ultimately put pressure on the Kings in their rushed attempt to get off a final attempt at winning the game.

Sydney have since lodged a complaint with the NBL to review the situation — with the claim that one of Adelaide coach Joey Wright’s timeouts were chalked up to the Kings. In a frustrated aftermath, Kings star Josh Childress remonstrated with referees in an unwelcome manner — he is now the subject of charges by the league for alleged foul language toward the match officials. If the timeout situation is correct, foul language should be the least of the league’s concerns.

It certainly has been an eventful time for the league office — it feels like weeks (in fact it was days) ago that Brian Conklin was fronting the tribunal for the contact that saw Damian Martin’s jaw broken.

Keep in the headlines (for good reasons), NBL.

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