The Tasmania JackJumpers are daring to dream, but NBL legend Shane Heal doubts they’ll trouble the Sydney Kings in the grand final series.
NBL legend Shane Heal says the Tasmania JackJumpers aren’t talented enough to topple the Sydney Kings, who are itching to spoil Tasmania’s fairytale and snap their own title drought in the upcoming Grand Final series.
The JackJumpers stunned one and all by sneaking into the play-offs in their inaugural season and then upsetting reigning champions Melbourne United to book a spot in the grand final series.
The Tassie bandwagon is gathering steam and all aboard will be cheering for the Kings’ downfall.
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But on its scintillating winning streak this season, Sydney became used to playing the villain and won’t come unstuck if it’s cast in the role again in the grand final series.
“I think we felt like (villains) a lot of the year,” coach Chase Buford said.
“It seems like a lot of people line up to knock us down, but we’re not worried about the narrative or anything like that.
“We just want to come out and play our basketball against a really quality opponent and whatever everybody else outside the white line says, we’re not too concerned about.”
Guard Dejan Vasiljevic said the Kings were out to spoil the JackJumpers’ party.
“That’s the goal,” he said.
“We’re trying to win a championship and so are they.”
But Heal doubted whether the Taswegians were capable of thwarting the Sydneysiders, as impressive as their rise to the grand final series had been.
“All of Australia is going to be backing Tassie, outside of Sydney. Even the rest of NSW will be backing Tassie, I think,” he said.
“They’ve been really well coached, they’re tough and they play together, but they don’t have the same sort of talent. They don’t have the game winners that Sydney have.
“It’s a Cinderella story, no doubt about that. Unfortunately, it’s just not going to end the way they want, I don’t think.”
The best-of-five series kicks off on Friday night and the Kings host two of the first three matches, which Heal believes gives them the upper hand.
“Listening to the noise out at Qudos Bank Arena arena in the semi-final game against the Hawks, there’s a serious home court advantage,” Heal said.
“I can’t wait for the grand final. I think it’s going to be a sweep.”
The Kings haven’t won an NBL title since 2005, but Heal said they had the stocks to snap the drought this year.
“They’re unbelievably talented. Probably the most talented (Kings team) we’ve seen,” he said.
“You look at Jaylen (MVP Jaylen Adams) and the crop of Americans but you look at (Xavier) Cooks and you look at DJ (Dejan Vasiljevic), they can just score from anywhere.
“They’re an exciting team to watch.”