Images of that mid range fade away converted by Ekene Ibekwe with 1.2 seconds left of NBL Grand Final Game 2 will remain with Breakers fans forever.
It wasn’t the case of course, but even if Ibekwe had had a mediocre season those 1.2 seconds would have catapulted the Nigerian international into MVP contention.
The 29 year old was signed by the Breakers to provide some rim protection at the defensive end and athleticism to the centre position. Coach Vickerman took a bit of a gamble, as the 2.06m centre had not played for 12 months due to injury. The gamble paid off with the big man averaging 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2 blocks per game.
He fell foul of the referees in the early part of the season, fouling out in four of the first eight games. That eighth game was in Cairns against the Taipans where Ibekwe produced an extraordinary stats line – 20 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocks. The Breakers won 79-71 and the rangy centre was up and running.
Whether it was a highflying block or a back cut alley-oop the season was full of Ibekwe highlights.
Not since the inaugural NBL season in 1979 has a championship been decided on a buzzer-beating shot. We won’t know until Friday if he has done enough to earn the MVP Award but those last 1.2 seconds will win the MMMA (Most Memorable Moment Award) in a landslide.
Season at a glance;
- Played all 32 games of the season.
- Led the League in Field Goal shooting percentage – 152/255 @59.6%
- Led the team in shot blocking – 62 blocks in a single season is a record for the Breakers.
- In addition, 7 blocks v Cairns is a Breakers single game record.