Sensational Santia leads Tiger triumph

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Another clutch grand final performance from big-game player John Santia has guided Tigers to a fifth Albany Basketball Association men’s A-grade premiership this decade, beating Barking Owls by 12 points in overtime on Friday night.

Santia was clearly the difference between the two evenly-matched sides as he produced a sensational shooting display to knock down a game-high 22 points and lead Tigers to more title success.

Owls, the minor premiers, were chasing their third premiership in four seasons and began brightly as they dominated at both ends to go on a 9-0 run.

Santia ended Tigers’ scoring drought after almost eight minutes but the first half belonged to Owls as starters Justin Benson, Tom Powell and Hamish McMorran helped their side lead 19-14 at half- time.

Tigers clawed their way to within a point early in the second half but the Santia show was just getting going, as the former SBL guard got busy midway through the last half with consecutive triples and then a jump shot to give his side the lead.

Tigers' John Santia drives to the basket in his grand final MVP performance.
Camera IconTigers' John Santia drives to the basket in his grand final MVP performance. Credit: Albany Advertiser

In a frantic few minutes the lead changed hands four times as Benson and Powell did their best to keep Owls in front but the sky-high confidence of Santia and on-target forward Dean Gliosca ensured the match went to the wire.

Benson landed awkwardly while shooting in the keyway and was carried off with a concerning knee injury, his side trailing by a point with just over five minutes remaining in regular time.

Owls dug deep though as they hit the next seven points through Powell, Joel Bellinger-Brown and McMorran to charge six points ahead.

Long-range baskets to Gliosca and then Santia levelled scores before Benson returned strapped up but couldn’t convert two free throws as the buzzer sounded at 37-37.

Barking Owls' Justin Benson takes possession and looks for options.
Camera IconBarking Owls' Justin Benson takes possession and looks for options. Credit: Albany Advertiser

It was all Tigers, however, in overtime, as Santia hit a fifth triple and Gliosca continued his great game to guide their side home 53-41.

Santia’s grand final record is simply superb with his MVP and 22 points added to his efforts in 2010-11 (14 points), 2011-12 (12 points) and 2012-13 (7 points & MVP).

Barking Owls' Tom Powell helps himself to a basket.
Camera IconBarking Owls' Tom Powell helps himself to a basket. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Glisoca chipped in 13 points, which included three from long range as his side shot at 45 from three point territory with 10 off 22 attempts dropping.

Tigers shot at 57 percent from the line and Owls went at 61 percent for their 28 attempts.

Owls failed to score any of their 10 three point attempts for the game.

“We didn’t have a lot of flow,” he said. “Our ball movement wasn’t what it is normally.

“It was basically just John, he’s the best player in the competition and just shows up in games like this.”

Tigers 53 (Santia 22, Gliosca 13, Genovese 5, Hill 4, Button 3, Polette 3, Ward 2, Holmes 1) def Barking Owls 41 (Benson 12, Powell 10, Bellinger-Brown 9, McMorran 8, Whalley 2)

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