Halberg top moments: Ibekwe a hero with buzzer beating shot

By Kris Shannon

Ekene Ibekwe secures the NBL title for the Breakers.
Ekene Ibekwe secures the NBL title for the Breakers.

When Cedric Jackson hit a half-court buzzer beater to end a double-overtime classic against Perth, few would have expected that moment to be eclipsed a few weeks later.

But in one fluid motion, one catch and turn and release, Ekene Ibekwe ensured that his name would be the one written in bold when the Breakers record the history of the 2014-15 season.

Ibekwe's last-gasp jump shot not only beat the buzzer to beat the Cairns Taipans but also clinched the Kiwi club's fourth championship in an incredible five-year stretch.

The import was an unlikely hero as the Breakers sealed a 2-0 sweep in the Australian NBL grand final series.

With the scores tied and 1.2 seconds on the clock as coach Dean Vickerman called the final play, many at the North Shore Events Centre expected the ball to end up with Jackson, Corey Webster or Tom Abercrombie.

But a play drawn up the previous year by assistant coach Judd Flavell soon resulted in the biggest shot in the Breakers' 13 seasons and saw Ibekwe immortalise himself in the club's history.

"I wanted to get my picture up [on the walls at the Breakers' practice gym]," Ibekwe said. "What better way to do it than making a last-second shot for the championship?"

Ibekwe's jumper ended a see-sawing clash after Cairns seized control in the final quarter.

The Breakers trailed by five with a few minutes left, before a dagger three from Abercrombie and a couple of clutch free throws from Mika Vukona left the scores level.

Kiwi sports fans can vote for their choice by text message (once per day) or online at www.sportingmoment.co.nz.

How to vote:

Voting is now open for the Radio Sport Sporting Moment award. You can vote once a day from now until 9.00pm on Thursday 18 February 2016.

1. Online
Vote at www.sportingmoment.co.nz

2. TXT
Text your Radio Sport Sporting Moment's unique code to 818:
1. Txt Sm1 to 818 to vote for SKYCITY Breakers
2. Txt Sm2 to 818 to vote for Grant Elliott
3. Txt Sm3 to 818 to vote for Kiwis
4. Txt Sm4 to 818 to vote for The Highlanders
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6. Txt Sm6 to 818 to vote for Richie McCaw
7. Txt Sm7 to 818 to vote for Lydia Ko
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10. Txt Sm10 to 818 to vote for Football Ferns
Standard text fees apply on all text votes.

Everyone who votes in the Radio Sport Sporting Moment Award before midnight on the 9 February, 2016 goes in the draw to win a trip for two including flights and accommodation to the 53rd Halberg Awards at Vector Arena, Auckland on Thursday 18 February 2016. Visit www.sportingmoment.co.nz to read the competition terms & conditions.

- NZ Herald

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