Then there were three.
Rob Loe, Isaac Fotu and Tom Abercrombie are now our only three international players still performing overseas. This follows Le Murra Lucca’s loss in the Italian League Grand Final Series.
Tall Fern Jillian Harmon was at her consistent best for Lucca against Familia Schio but the defending champions swept the best of five series 3-0 to claim a fourth consecutive Italian title.
In game one on Monday Lucca mounted an extraordinary comeback only to fall to defeat in the final seconds of the game.
The home supporters were silenced as Familia Schio built what appeared to be an unassailable 51-37 three-quarter time advantage. However what unfolded was a remarkable comeback as Lucca, in front of a virtual full house at PalaTagliate, embarked on a remarkable 19-4 run to lead 56-55 inside the final minute.
Unfortunately the fairytale ending did not materialise as veteran forward Lara Macchi made the important final score in the final seconds to carry Schio to a crucial first up victory.
Harmon made 12 points and snared 7 rebounds in the opener.
Familia Schio bossed the second encounter from start to finish winning 78-54. Harmon was tireless with 11 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists but could do little to stem the tide in favour of the home team.
On Sunday the third game followed a similar pattern to game two with Scio bossing the boards (42-30) and easing to a 76-55 win. Once again Harmon was prominent with a double double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Tall Ferns forward will now get a few days rest before linking up with her international colleagues later this month.
All three of our European based Tall Blacks have enjoyed winning success in the past week.
In Belgium Limburg United got their Scooore League best of three quarter-final series off to a perfect start with an 87-80 home win against Port of Antwerp Giants on Tuesday. Just 2 points, 2 rebounds for Rob Loe in that game.
Limburg followed up with a 61-60 second game victory on Thursday to book a semi-final spot. Remarkably Limburg trailed 24-10 at the end of the first quarter but only gave up a further 36 points in the remaining thirty minutes. Loe scored 2 points in a low scoring tense affair.
On Wednesday Zaragoza visited Valencia who were riding a wave of confidence after inflicting a rare loss on 2016 Liga Endesa Cup Winners Barcelona the previous week. Isaac Fotu was at his powerful best scoring a game high 18 points as Zaragoza gave second in the table Valencia a huge fright before eventually going down 78-75.
The penultimate round of the Spanish League was played on Sunday. Hosting 11th placed Sevilla (14-18), Zaragoza (11-21) edged to a fine 91-87 victory. After his strong performance midweek it seemed a little strange the Tall Blacks forward was only required for 10 minutes of action during which he score 4 points.
Pinar Karsiyaka aided by 8 points from Tom Abercrombie easily beat Yesilgiresun 98-72 in the final game of the Turkish League regular season on Tuesday.
With Fenerbache finishing third on the table and Karsiyaka sixth the two teams face off in a best of three quarter-final clash beginning on Tuesday.
Australia – Men
Tall Blacks point guard Jarrod Kenny was rewarded for his fine rookie season in the NBL with a new three year contract with Perth Wildcats.
Currently playing in the New Zealand NBL with Nelson Giants Kenny was pleased to be re-signing with reigning ANBL champions.
“The Wildcats took a chance on me last season and I will be forever thankful for that,” he told the NBL website.
“To be offered a mature-age contract and then go on to win a Championship with a great group of guys in my rookie season was really a dream come true.
“I’m very excited to be coming back to Perth next season. It’s a rare opportunity to build a legacy and I’m determined to be a part of that.”
With captain Damian Martin out injured, the thirty-year-old stepped up to play a major role for the club, racking up more than 20 minutes per game for the first half of last season.
Kenny ended the championship year with an average of 4.6 points per game but it was his poise, leadership and defensive capabilities that impressed the Wildcats coaching staff.