Basketball: NBL says refs right not to review last-second play in controversial Hawks’ loss

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A long-time New Zealand national men’s basketball league franchise are considering what action they can take after an opposition foul on the ball in the hoop led to the team’s preliminary semifinal exit from the playoffs in Auckland on Thursday night.

It was 86-86 a split-second before the buzzer as team stalwart and franchise manager Jarrod Kenny’s possible match-winning shot bobbled around the ring when the hand of Canterbury Rams forward shot through the hoop from beneath and deflected the ball out.

With the cameras on, and commentators and 500 fans – for or against the Hawks – calling the shot a winner, the referees bypassed an instant review process in place for the first time, called time and sent the match into five minutes of overtime, which ended with the Rams winning 103-95 and an end to the Hawks’ dream late-run for 2023 honours.

Amid the uproar, leagues referee manager Ken Coulson said in a statement on behalf of Sal’s national men’s basketball league that the decision to not review the play was correct.


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“On the final possession of the fourth quarter, no violation was called by any referee on the final shot, and as a result, this could not be referred for review by the IRS [instant review system] as per FIBA [International Basketball Federation] Rule F.3.2,” Coulson said.

“Due to this, the referees had made the correct call as per IRS guidelines and the game went to overtime,” he said.

Contacted by Hawke’s Bay Today, Hawks chairman Keith Price was unable to comment pending further discussion, and Kenny was also reticent pending a process.

But he said that along with a loss to Taranaki Airs earlier in the season in a bizarre resetting of the clock to 0.5 seconds a single play, there are decisions that have to be made.


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Players on both sides were being advised to stay clear of social media while a process unfolded, which could lead to an appeal being unlikely to affect the outcome, which sees Rams playing defending champions the Otago Nuggets in a Saturday night semifinal.

But coach Everard Bartlett, a veteran of the Hawks’ only league title in 2006 and in his first year in the top coaching job, said everyone in the arena – whether Hawks fans, supporters of the other five teams in the playoffs, or basketball fans generally – saw what had happened and believed a review should have taken place.

Bartlett is adamant Brown’s hand illegally deflected the ball and the result should have been winning points for the Hawks, who had staged a specular comeback after being down by 17 points at the start of the fourth quarter.

Starting at 76-59 to the Rams, the Hawks went on a 24-2 to lead 83-78 when Hyrum Harris planted a three-point jump shot with 2m 59s to go, the twists and turns of the rest of time and what was the Hawks’ third loss in overtime in 2023, including triple time against the Rams on the home Pettigrew Green Arena Court in April.

With late-season injury worries for Tall Blacks World Championships hopefuls and foul problems for American import Ira Lee it was a courageous effort after the Hawks scraped into the playoffs with three home wins, including beating league leader Auckland Tuatara.

“The boys deserved the moment,” Bartlett said, “but I feel particularly for Jarrod. It could be his last season.”

Kenny said if the team had gone on to win the grand final it would have been his last season, but now he’s undecided.

“It leaves a little bit of a sour taste,” he said.

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