Local Basketball – Two Down? Too Good

It’s a premiership win with an immortal story.
One short on the court going into the Grand Final with one player carrying a back injury.
Two short on the court with five minutes to play when that player was fouled off.
And somehow a way to win was found.
Daniel Wood, Nick Kennedy, Cam Prior and Jack Peacock pulled off a truly extraordinary victory in the S17 NSBL Sunday Men’s B Grand Final in the Diamond Valley Basketball Association. The four players and teammates of Acceptable in the ’90s who claimed premiership glory by seven points over DV Telstars looked the odds in the eye and refused to blink. “Hard to beat having all the odds stacked against you and still finding a way to come out on top,” says Wood.

Acceptable in the ’90s – the moniker chosen “because we wear the US 1992 Dreamteam jerseys and we’re all born in the 90s and we love Calvin Harris”, says Wood deadpan – finished second in the seven-team division and won their way through to the Grand Final with a 14-point win over BMB, to whom they had lost just three matches prior. The boys celebrated and the champagne flowed but Wood’s team knew the drop of bitter was coming.

With four regular starters unavailable and Kennedy nursing himself through a frayed disc injury in his back, Acceptable in the ’90s would be hitting the court with four players. A Grand Final, a premiership chance but conceding a match-up and certainly without rotations. The best of times, the worst of times.

“I didn’t want to build my hopes up too much, I knew that it was going to be next to impossible because they would always either have an open player on offence, or an extra player to play us on defence,” admits Wood frankly. “They’ve always been a team we’ve struggled against, both this season and in seasons past.”

Nonetheless, some of sport’s most unlikely heroes are born in Grand Finals. And the short-changed, injury-hit Acceptable in the ’90s outfit were underdogs with nothing to lose. Helpfully, the crowd – all three of them – were all Acceptable fans. An optimistic point to be sure, but then again Wood, Kennedy, Prior and Peacock were hanging onto a Hail Mary pass.

“The hardest part was defence playing with only three, wasn’t an awful lot we could do to stop them,” says Wood.

The bad hand Wood’s side had been dealt acted as a pressure valve release. Indeed, it wasn’t until late in the piece that the possibility of an Acceptable in the ’90s victory crept into the match.

“There was a timeout called with like six minutes to go and that,” says Wood, “was when we started thinking we really could actually win.”

Momentum was a hot potato. Somehow, Acceptable in the ’90s countered their holes in defence and the lead changed hands for the seventh time when Kennedy banked a three-pointer to put his side clear 55-52 with just over three minutes to play. Overcoming the match’s fever pitch and the pain in his back, Kennedy backed it up with another two points but then…

There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip. Kennedy received his final foul and Acceptable in the ’90s – having run themselves ragged to hold a narrow five-point lead – were now conceding two players on defence with one hundred and sixty seconds to play.

“I thought we could still do it but I knew it was gonna be really tough, and I knew I’d have to step up to score for us,” says Wood, who hit 27 points in the Grand Final after averaging just under 14 all season.

The fairytale was sealed with just under a minute left when Prior converted a free throw to extend the lead to six and hammer the final nail in the DV Telstars’ coffin.

And so it was that Acceptable in the ’90s won a premiership with as many on the court as were in the stands. But what a win to be a part of.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in a few grand finals for basketball and I can honestly say this was by far one of the sweetest wins I’ve ever had,” surmises Wood.


About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

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