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Thursday, May 11, 2017

For the second consecutive week, the Cobra Men came back in crunch time for a thrilling home win, with Nelson Kirksey, Auryn Macmillan and Chris Patton coming up huge in the final moments to give Kilsyth an 83-82 win over Canberra on Sunday.

Trailing 72-77 with three minutes remaining, the Cobras closed the game on an 11-5 run to claim yet another heart stopping victory at home. After the Gunners Roy Booker buried a three-pointer to put Canberra ahead by five, Patton got Kilsyth going with a strong post move inside, then followed with a putback finish to trim their deficit to 76-77.

Booker responded with another deep three - his eighth of the game - but the Cobras would lock in defensively on the Gunners high-scoring import over the final two minutes to take their first lead of the game. After Kirksey split a pair from the foul line, Booker threw a lazy pass out of bounds to give the Cobras the ball, and Patton again made them pay, going to work down low once again as he scored off his go-to right hand hook shot.

Both teams then traded empty possessions, before Booker threw another errant pass which was picked off by Kirksey, with the Cobras import racing down court for the go-ahead layup with 54 seconds remaining. On the ensuing Gunners possession, Kirksey fouled Daniel Joyce on his way to the basket, with Joyce sinking two free throws to reclaim the lead for Canberra. But the Cobras responded once again, with Macmillan recovering a loose ball after he was stripped on a drive and finishing inside to give Kilsyth the lead.

After failing to contain Joyce the possession prior, Kirksey came through with a huge defensive play in the final seconds, picking Joyce’s pocket on a top-of-the key isolation play to seal the game for the Cobras and send the home crowd into a frenzy.

“It’s great to come away with the win and to find a way to grind it out,” Cobras Head Coach Justin Schueller said.

“It wasn’t our best game in terms of executing our processes, but what was pleasing was our belief the whole way and not wavering from details in the last quarter.”

Patton and Macmillan both recorded double-doubles for the Cobras, with Patton scoring a team-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds, while Macmillan added 14 points 10 boards and four assists in the win. Kirksey chipped in with 15 points, four assists and three steals, and Owen Odigie also finished in double digits with 10 points, while making several big plays on the defensive end and throwing down one of the dunks of the year early in the third quarter (watch below).

Schueller was pleased with the amount of strong contributions he received out of his team on Sunday. While the starters came up big, the Cobras also received some key minutes off the bench from Kieran Murphy and Tariq Naqqash.

“Having so many of our guys stand up and to have four guys in double figures is great for us, and I feel like it was Auryn's best game of the year,” Schueller added.

“Chris, Owen and Nelson are starting to be consistent game in game out which is important for us”

For Canberra, Booker finished with a game-high 35 points and was unstoppable for most of the day, but when it counted most, the Cobras locked in on him and the rest of the Gunners to reel off an impressive fourth quarter on both ends of the floor.

“Booker had a great game for them, but I was really happy with our defence in the last five minutes,” Schueller said.

“We are still wanting 40 minutes of consistency as a team and once we start getting that I feel confident in what we can achieve this season.”