The Nunawading Spectres shook off the scourge of its all-too-familiar slow start to run over the top of the Bendigo Braves and claim the inaugural NBL1 championship game at the State Basketball Centre on Saturday night.
The Spectres have limped out of the starting blocks in recent weeks, costing them an early playoff game against Frankston, and trailed the Braves by 14 points at the first change.
But there was too much at stake and, with Dain Swetalla and Tom Wright in sublime form, the Spectres erased the deficit by the long break and were unstoppable on the way to a 99-90 win.
The fighting victory went a long way to easing the pain of last year’s loss to Hobart in the very last SEABL grand final.
Swetalla has been outstanding for Nunawading throughout the playoffs and saved his best for last, 28 points and nine rebounds in what was a starring role in the grand final win.
Wright chipped in with 24 points, three rebounds and four assists.
Bendigo had an even spread of contributors with Ray Turner (24 points), Deonte Burton (24 points) and Mathiang Muo (23 points) almost getting the underdogs over the line.
That Bendigo was even in the championship game was the stuff of sporting fairytales. After finishing the regular season eighth, the Braves went up a notch to reach the big dance.
But what glimmer there’d been of a ‘happily ever after’ was gradually eroded as Nunawading rallied on the back of Swetalla.
In a stunning second quarter that netted him 15 points, Swetella had the Spectres all square at the half.
That wave continued in the third term as Nunawading opened what was to be a match-winning lead by the final break