Newlands prevail in A grade basketball final

The winning Newlands side (back from left) coach Brian Kerr, Marvin Agacer, Logan Perkins, Nick Fechney, Sam Rodgers, Pablo Gallegos, Ben Ditmer, (front from left) Ramil Ilumin, Marc Juntilla and Randy Beunafe. Absent were Bryn Hetrick and Angus McKenzie.

New champions Newlands worked hard to win Basketball Mid Canterbury’s men’s A grade on Wednesday night, beating defending champs MSA Team Donkey 85-74.

Brian Kerr has been watching the action all season and reckoned a terrific game of basketball was played by two good teams, and played in a wonderful spirit. A really good crowd added to the whole occasion.

His player of the final was Nick Fechney of Newlands and he has been a crucial part of the Newlands success over the season.

However, the competition MVP was Cam Butler for MSA Team Donkey. He was a tireless worker week in, week out. He was defensively good but offensively just a hard man to shut down and in all honesty, no team managed to do that.

Here are Brian’s thoughts on the final:

These teams were close. They’d beaten each other once in the round robin, dropped three games over the competition and it was only the points differential that separated them in the two top spots. Both teams had been comfortable semifinals winners, so this final was down to the two best teams.
It wasn’t going to be easy to pick.

The first quarter was about getting into a rhythm. MSA Team Donkey got there first as they hit early shots as they took advantage of a slightly disorganized Newlands defence. However that didn’t last long as Newlands tidied their defence up. A couple of late plays by MSA Team Donkey allowing them to take a 25–21 lead at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was a good start for Newlands as they found their range from beyond the arc forcing a rethink for MSA Team Donkey. They changed up their defence to a man to man which slowed Newlands and allowed them to kick start their own offence. So by the halftime break the scores were tied 45-apiece.

The crucial third quarter and Newlands got away to a flyer with a 7–0 run forcing a timeout for MSA Team Donkey. It settled them a little, however Newlands began to stifle MSA Team Donkey on the offensive end putting pressure on the shot and boxing out well reducing second shots. MSA Team Donkey also worked hard on defence to minimise further damage and they trailed Newlands 65–57 leading into the final quarter.

MSA Team Donkey needed a good start in the fourth quarter, however two big threes from Newlands and now the lead was out to 14 points with 8 minutes remaining. MSA Team Donkey were starting to fatigue as they began to miss some easy shots.
A couple of defensive errors allowed Newlands a couple of soft baskets and it seemed that this might be it.

MSA Team Donkey fought back with a couple of threes of their own and it seemed liked their fourth quarter fightback had started. A big three by Nick Fechney and a drive by Randy Buenafe ended that. Newlands tightened up their defence and wound the clock down to take out the final 85–74.

For Newlands, Nick Fechney led the way with an excellent all round display finishing with 29 points (eight 3-pointers). He hit the big shots when needed which kept space between the two teams. Randy Buenafe again the silent accumulator scoring 22 points (two 3-pointers) to finish a good season. Marvin Agacer, dangerous with ball in hand scored 15 points (1 – 3 pointer). Marc Juntilla ended up with 12 points (one 3-pointer) and was embroiled in a terrific matchup with Pip Johnston who worked him hard. A bit like the master and the apprentice scenario. Great to watch.

For MSA Team Donkey, Cam Butler continued on his terrific season with 25 points. Again he was hardworking at both ends of the court. Fotu Hala with some nice plays ended up with 19 points (three 3-pointers). Brad van der Eik hit four 3-pointers in his 12 points whilst Pip Johnston finished with 10 points (two 3-pointers).

There were a few things that impacted on this game. The start of the third quarter and a 7-0 run to Newlands in which MSA Team Donkey never regathered. The start of the fourth quarter and two three pointers without reply extended Newlands lead to double figures.

MSA Team Donkey went to a man to man defence earlier than they had done in any of their games throughout the season and fatigue was evident on some of the players later in the game. That fatigue I think led to some uncharacteristic misses close to the basket.
Newlands changed up their defence to a 3 – 2 zone to pressurise the dangerous MSA Team Donkey shooters. They didn’t succeed all of the time but they generally did it well.

I think however the biggest difference was Nick Fechney hitting the big shots when required especially when it seemed MSA Team Donkey might be working their way back into the game in the fourth quarter.

So that’s it for this for this season. It was pleasing to get in as much basketball as we did and here’s to a Covid-free 2021.

MSA Team Donkey, beaten finalists in 2020.

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