Defending Champions Urban Knights and Spanish Town Spartans met 5 times in the regular season with the Spartans winning on four occasions including the Mid-
Season finals; so the 3-game FLOW NBL Finals were eagerly anticipated, especially after being pushed back due to international commitments of some of the league's players.
Game one proved to be more than anyone could have expected and would have raised the interest and eagerness of all the fans after the Knights won game one after triple overtime.
The Knights got the game off to a fast start with their usual running game as the Spartans came out unusually flat. At the end of the first quarter the defending champs held a comfortable 7 points lead as the scores read 17-10.
The Spartans however, showed that they are no pretenders and are determined to take the title this season. They responded by taking away the Knights running game and got into their front court offense using their big man Adrian Forbes, to good effect. The slow, smothering half court game of the Spartans saw them restrict the Knights to just 5 points in the quarter while scoring 12 to level the game 22-22 at half time.
The third quarter started out with an 8-2 run for the Knights and eventually played out in similar fashion to the first quarter, with Knights point guard Andre Murray running the show on offense and fast breaks, again being the main weapon. The third quarter ended 36-31, a somewhat comfortable 5 point lead for the Knights.
But the Spartans refused to go away. Murray hurt his knee and this slowed the Knights again in the fourth quarter, while Forbes took control of the game on both ends of the floor aided by Javon Bailey at the point. Bailey was pin point accurate with his passes and this allowed his team to turn the screws on their opponents.
Turnovers at key points in the game however, caused neither team to get the better of the other and just at the half time break, the game ended all square, at 50-50 following another Knights turnover with less than 20 seconds to go in the game.
The Knights were the first to score in the first period of overtime before the Spartans scored 8 unanswered to take a 58-52 lead. Suddenly however, the Spartans went cold as the defending champions hit back with two clutch 3 pointers before drawing the game level at 58-58. Javon Bailey got the chance to end the game with 17.8 seconds left in the game but missed two key free-throws.
Both teams battled bravely in the second overtime period with neither being able to dominate or go on any real run. With 2:30 remaining on the clock, Bailey went down with cramps in his right leg and the Knights took advantage to get a three point lead courtesy of two free throws with 4.1 seconds left on the clock.
As spectators streamed out of the venue, Bailey, who had been reinserted back into the game despite a heavy limp, threw up a 'hail Mary' from way down town and when the basket sank the Spartan fans invaded the court in massive celebration, clearly forgetting that the game was not finished. Double overtime had ended 68-68.
Cue, triple overtime. Both teams were now suffering from dehydration as players cramped and both coaches forced to go deep in their roster. The period was just as close as any other, with both teams trading baskets. The Knights got the first minor advantage at 75-72 before closing out an incredible game of basketball at 77-75.
If game one is anything to go by, then game two of the series, set for the Stadium Courts at 7 tonight should also be a thriller and could go either way. Spartans will be looking for a win to send the series to a game 3 finale while the defending champions, Knights will be looking to end it here.