Bullets take game one of NBL grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bullets take game one of NBL grand final

By Laine Clark 02/03/2007 10:17:55 PM Comments (0)

Down but not out, the Bullets got off the canvas to deliver a body blow to the Melbourne Tigers' NBL title defence with a come-from-behind 98-95 win in Brisbane.

Melbourne looked to have snapped Brisbane's record 20-game winning run - and more than 7,000 Bullets fans' hearts - when they held a comfortable buffer for most of the match.

Despite trailing at one stage by 14 points, Brisbane kept swinging and when skipper Sam Mackinnon landed a lay up with 1min.35sec left on the clock, the Bullets hit the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter.

Scoreless in the first term and with just five points by three-quarter-time, CJ Bruton finally got hot in the fourth with a late three-point bomb that blew the roof off the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

The rabid crowd - starved of a championship for 20 years - came alive, import guard Ebi Ere got into the act with another towering three and Mackinnon did the rest.

It was already an emotion-charged game with Bullets greats Brian Kerle, Leroy Loggins and CJ's dad Cal Bruton court-side to witness Brisbane's first grand final appearance since 1990.

To add further spice, Brisbane held court at the venue where it last tasted championship glory in 1987.

But Melbourne looked to have crashed the party when they led by 14 points in the second quarter, 10 by halftime and nine in the third term.

However, the Bullets showed they were going to make the most of their first grand final series in 17 years by cutting down the defending champions.

It snapped Tigers coach Al Westover's unbeaten 7-0 playoff run, ensuring Brisbane will go into game two of the best of five series in Melbourne full of confidence.

Melbourne went on an early 9-0 run but Stephen Black was a man possessed, grabbing 13 first-quarter points to help the Bullets to a 30-25 buffer at the opening break.

Black finished the match with a game-high 24 points.

In the second quarter, Melbourne's 58 per cent shooting and Dave Thomas' 10 points for the term handed the visitors a 64-54 halftime buffer as the Bullets went cold.

So cold that Bullets star guard Bruton did not register his first points - two free throws - until the final minute of the opening half.

Kerle, Cal Bruton and Loggins were wheeled out at halftime - prompting even the Tigers coaching staff to burst into applause.

But it wasn't enough to stop the Tigers clawing their way to a 81-77 lead at the final break.

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