The ‘Quest in Mackay’ Australian Indigenous All Stars have gained bragging rights for the next 12 months, following their 2015 Mackay Pride Trans-Tasman Basketball Series win against the New Zealand Maori National Team.
After dropping game one of the series 93-82, the All Stars bounced back to secure victories in game two (107-99) and game three (93-89).
There was plenty of excitement in the decider, with the Maori side showing lots of early offensive aggression to take a 25-19 first quarter lead.
The visitors then countered a small run by the All Stars in the second quarter and continued to control the tempo of game heading into the sheds at halftime leading 43-40.
The Kiwis then pushed the lead back out to four by three-quarter time on the back of some individual brilliance from Maori skipper Lindsay Tait.
All Stars live-wire guard Deba George came alive in the fourth quarter however, scoring 13 points, including back-to-back triples to put the All Stars in front with just under four minutes to play.
Captain Chris Cedar clinched the win with a pair of free-throws with just seconds left on the clock.
George finished the game with a team-high 20 points and was named ‘Player of the Series’ after averaging 19 with four assists and four rebounds.
Tait was also outstanding for the Maori’s averaging 18 points, seven assists and six boards for the series.
Head Coach of the Australian Indigenous All Stars Joel Khalu said he was proud of how the team battled back to win the series after dropping game one on Thursday night.
“It definitely showed the character of the group and what we were made of coming back after the game one loss,” Khalu said.
“The easy thing to do would have been to just pack it in, but to the guys credit, they bought into the adjustments we needed to make and came out with a desire to win both games two and three.
“For us it just came down to playing with that extra bit of desire and determination and I think that was helped by having the home crowd in our corner.
“Overall it was a fantastic showcase for basketball, with three very close, high-quality games being played and a lot of phenomenal talent on display.”
With the second annual clash between the two sides now completed, Khalu said the focus would shift to next year’s event and the return of games to New Zealand.
“Looking at the first two series, there’s no doubt that we have built a great rivalry and an attractive event that should continue to be sustainable,” he said.
“We’ve also had discussions about a potential four team tournament that may include Canadian and U.S Indigenous teams as well, which is also exciting.”
“What we’re trying to do is about more than just on-court basketball.
“It’s about creating opportunities for both countries to share their culture through sport and another way to inspire the young people out there to pick up a ball and shoot some hoops.”
2015 #MackayPride Trans-Tasman Basketball Series
GAME 1: Thursday, September 24
New Zealand Maori 93 (Brook Ruscoe 18, Daryl Jones 16)
Defeated the Australian Indigenous All Stars 82 (Deba George 20, Tidjane Diop 17)
GAME 2: Friday, September 25
Australian Indigenous All Stars 107 (Chris Cedar 20, Michael Cedar 18)
Defeated New Zealand Maori 99 (Jordan Ngatai 21, Lindsay Tait 19)
GAME 3: Saturday, September 26
Australian Indigenous All Stars 93 (Deba George 20, Verle Williams Jnr. 20)
Defeated New Zealand Maori 89 (Lindsay Tait 22, Jordan Ngatai 15)