NATHAN Sobey came home to deliver Warrnambool Seahawks a title and made good on his promise.
The NBL-listed guard showed his star power in their Big V grand final series clean sweep – draining a combined 82 points across their two wins – to help end an 18-year title drought.
The Seahawks cut down the net in front of a jam-packed crowd at the Arc on Saturday night after holding off a plucky Casey Cavaliers 96-85, with Sobey and fellow 2016 recruits Xavier Johnson-Blount and Alex Gynes influential.
Sobey, who finished with a game-high 37 points, highlighted his ability to identify a key moment and seize it when the Cavaliers, down by as much as 13 at one stage, took the lead late in the third term.
The Adelaide 36er sunk a long-range three and lifted the crowd with a steal and fast-break slam dunk in a 60-second purple patch nearing the final break.
Sobey and Xavier Johnson-Blount (25 points) were also effective at the free throw line to give the Seahawks a four-point buffer.
Gynes scored 14 of his 20 points in the final term.
Warrnambool coach Matt Alexander was elated after the buzzer, rapt to help veteran Tim Gainey win his first title after 10 years with the club and watch the likes of teenager Ollie Bidmade stand up on the big stage.
“I feel fantastic. I have a lot of gratitude to be in this situation coaching a fantastic team and it’s just really special feelings,” he said.
“It is my second time I have coached the Seahawks. We were a development group that time and some of these guys have come up seven years later and I was privileged enough to coach them to a championship.
“I truly had faith in our talented team in any situation – if we were 10 down I’d still feel like we’ve got very elite players who can bring it back. The way we played today, the cohesion was fantastic, the ball movement, it was a real team effort. I was really impressed with all the guys.”
The Seahawks’ roster, which also included Josh Dean, James Mitchell, Dion Smith, Brock Carter, Sam Gray, Jacob Sobey and the absent Curtis Ryan, went undefeated at home in 2016 to be crowned champions of the 15-team division one competition.
Alexander praised the Warrnambool crowd for its ongoing support, saying it lifted his charges.
“They jump higher, they play harder – this championship is for the Warrnambool community and especially our basketball community,” he said.
“They back us all the way and we are very blessed to have such a good organisation, great management and people off the court – the score bench, the commentator. It is just a really well-oiled machine.”