Home Australia JackJumpers treated to heroes’ welcome following maiden NBL championship victory

JackJumpers treated to heroes’ welcome following maiden NBL championship victory

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A basketball fan cheers on the team at the airport.

The Tasmanian JackJumpers landed in Hobart to a heroes’ welcome after securing their first NBL championship title in Melbourne on Sunday night.

The young team, which achieved maximum glory in just its third season in the NBL, defeated Melbourne United in the five-game championship series, winning the final game 83-81.

Upon landing in Hobart on Monday morning, the team was greeted by celebrating fans.

“My anxiety was through the roof in the last minute,” young fan Lachlan Mahonney said of the match.

He said it was “just an amazing feeling” when the final buzzer rang.

“I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way again, especially playing for St Kilda in the AFL.”

The Mahonney family, Hugh, Jacqueline, Lachlan and Toby Mahonney joined the crowd of revelers at Hobart Airport.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Her mother, Jaqueline, was equally excited to see her team seal the deal, with a bet with her family meaning she is now ready to get her first JackJumpers-themed tattoo.

“A bet is a bet,” he said.

“We’ve watched every game. We love the Jackies. I’m happy to get a tattoo.”

A basketball player with fans.

Jordan Crawford was popular with the crowd.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Tassie united by team victory

For foundation fan Merrin Prins, the victory was a feat years in the making.

Immediately after the game, Prins and his family watched the replay to relive the success they had just witnessed.

“We signed up before the team was formed and we used to go to (former NBL club Hobart Devils’ games) as members, so this is a full circle (moment),” Ms Prins said.

“I know the Demons were big, but this has brought the whole state together, which is what I love.”

Since the Tasmania JackJumpers entered the National Basketball League in 2021 and reached the championship series in their first season, interest in the sport has skyrocketed.

Fighting until the end

Speaking on the court after Sunday night’s win, the team’s emotional coach Scott Roth had a clear message for the Ant Army.

“We defended the island for you. It was our motto,” he said.

“We fought like hell and came home with the trophy.”

Roth said the club’s rapid success was due to its fans.

“They’re tough-minded people, they love that island passionately, they’re tired of getting beat up and they needed something to rally around,” he said.

“And the moment we were there allowed us to be the team that they embraced.

“This small island has just been defended.”

It was a sentiment echoed by player Jack McVeigh, whose half-court shot in the final two seconds of game three put the JackJumpers on the brink of their first title.

McVeigh, awarded the Larry Sengstock Trophy as the championship series’ most valuable player, acknowledged the support the team had felt from its passionate fans.

“I’m very grateful,” he said.

“Thank you to Tasmania for taking in a boy from Caba (Cabarita Beach, New South Wales). The skinny boy with slow feet, who somehow holds his own on this stage.”

A basketball player meeting his fans at the airport.

Tasmanian JackJumper Jack McVeigh at Hobart Airport after the JackJumpers won the 2024 NBL championship.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Jordon Crawford, who scored a series-high 32 points, agreed.

“That’s what it’s all about, Jackies basketball, fighting until the end,” he said.

“Grate and grind, this one’s for Tassie.”

A group of Tasmanian NBL players cheer, cry and hug each other on the pitch after winning the title.

JackJumpers players celebrate Melbourne United’s defeat in game five of the NBL finals series.(AAP: James Ross)


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