Star-ling of the show – leads Panthers to title

THE South Adelaide Panthers have clawed their way to the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central Men’s title, after downing the Woodville Warriors in the grand final at The Lights Community and Sports Centre on Saturday night.

In the Panthers’ 30-point triumph, the Grand Final MVP award was given to big man Alexander Starling, who delivered an incredible performance on the biggest stage. South Adelaide broke its 24 year drought in an emotional showing, as the side pulled off the big upset.

The Warriors came into the game as the favoured side, given their standing at the top of the table to finish the home and away season. However, they found themselves jumped from the opening term, as the Panthers jumped out to a 23-9 lead at the first break. From there, South Adelaide remained on top, before truly putting the game away in the last quarter its way to a 88-58 triumph.

Woodville Warriors (58) def. by South Adelaide Panthers (88)

Alexander Starling – 31 points, 18 rebounds

Starling started the game in perfect fashion, winning the jump ball and getting the ball in the hands of the South Adelaide guards. A disappoitning turnover followed shortly after, but he was able to hit the scorers list with a nice putback. That seemed to boost Starling’s confidence as he began to crash the boards and secure a number of possessions for the Panthers. The second half of the first quarter was where Starling began to truly shine, scoring six unanswered points as South Adelaide took a substantial lead into the first break.

The big man was able to record his double-double in only the second term, soaring above his peers to snatch the loose ball, while still getting down the other end and impacting the game on the offensive end. Proving too big and strong for his opponent, Starling was able to shoot over whoever was trying to guard him, and when the defence was not watching, cut to the hoop for a big dunk to head into half time with plenty of momentum.

The Warriors mounted a bit of a charge in the third term, looking to keep its season alive with an attempt to fight back in the final two quarters. Despite things being a bit tougher from a South Adelaide perspective, Starling was still involved, and was able to put a halt to Woodville’s momentum with a big two-handed dunk, before backing it up with a score the very next play, as his side headed into three-quarter time with a 12-point advantage.

Starling was whipping out all the moves in the final term, as South Adelaide put the foot down and put any doubts to rest. Whether it was a step-back jumpshot, post fadeaway or dagger from behind the arc, he could not put a foot wrong. The fourth quarter was the most productive from both a team and individual standpoint, as Starling cemented himself as the game’s MVP.

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