Ambassadors hang on in first semi

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Email Cameron Newbold
Ambassadors' Astor Beniasan was terrific in the first semifinal.
Camera IconAmbassadors' Astor Beniasan was terrific in the first semifinal. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Ambassadors have fought off a last-ditch challenge from The Farm Athletics, prevailing in the Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade first semifinal that went to the wire on Tuesday night.

Farm Athletics were behind throughout the second half and trailed by eight points inside the final four minutes before they mustered one last effort for a place in next week’s preliminary final.

Red Rogers nailed his second triple of the night to start the Farm Athletics run and then in a frantic double possession Jeff Fitzpatrick hit a long-range basket and then his side stole the inbound ball as centre Kalin Lane scored to reduce the deficit to two points.

Ambassadors couldn’t make it a two possession game down the other end and Farm Athletics had the last chance at scoring as the clock ran down.

Lane put up an ambitions three point shot that was off the mark but Rogers grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled as the final buzzer rang out.

Rogers, at the line to try and tie scores and take the match to overtime, was unsuccessful in both free throw attempts as Ambassadors survived a big scare to win 58-56.

Little separated the two sides in the first half with Knuiman’s influence helping Ambassadors to a slender one-point lead.

Two field goals from Knuiman and a three to unassuming guard Ryan Barber to start the last half quickly established an eight-point advantage and from there Ambassadors held sway.

The margin hovered around double figures for much of the second period and the result moved Ambassadors to a second consecutive preliminary final appearance.

Knuiman was superb for his side, scoring a game-high 17 points including 10 in the last 25 minutes.

Barber was as effective as ever, his 11 points decisive in the result while Astor Beniasan (9 points) and Pieter Coetzee (8) both had great impact off the bench.

Ambassadors shot seven of their 11 free-throw attempts and went at 38 per cent from long range.

Farm Athletics were left to rue their free-throw shooting, hitting just four of 11 second-half attempts as they went at 53 per cent from the line for the match while being successful in seven of 16 three-point attempts.

Youngster David Arthur and Fitzpatrick were the two Farm Athletics players that reached double figures, both scoring 10 points as their side were eliminated.

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