Muo sends crowd wild with buzzer-beater as Buccs celebrate Indigenous history and Wundenberg milestone

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Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
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Geraldton Buccaneers’ Mathiang Muo, centre, celebrates his winner against Perth Redbacks on Saturday with Taine Wattie, left, and Brandon Holloway, right.
Camera IconGeraldton Buccaneers’ Mathiang Muo, centre, celebrates his winner against Perth Redbacks on Saturday with Taine Wattie, left, and Brandon Holloway, right. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

The Geraldton Buccaneers scored a scarcely believable win against a strong Perth Redbacks side on Saturday night, as the side celebrated their home Indigenous round and the 450th game of a legend with a win right on the buzzer.

In a tight game, former Perth Wildcat Mathiang Muo hit a three-pointer with nothing left on the clock to give the Buccs victory by a single point.

The Buccs’ Clayton Dann runs out of the tunnel as Philip Bartlett.
Camera IconThe Buccs’ Clayton Dann runs out of the tunnel as Philip Bartlett. Credit: Arctic_Moon_Photography/Arctic Moon Photography

Coach Dayle Joseph said the Buccs had had the feeling late on they could win the game, with Muo’s Hail Mary stunning the Redbacks and leaving the final score in the NBL1 West match-up reading 68-67.

Buccs’ Mathew Wundenberg with Liam Hunt and ex-Buccaneer Jason Bunter and Wundenberg’s award for his 450th game, which was played last round.
Camera IconBuccs’ Mathew Wundenberg with Liam Hunt and ex-Buccaneer Jason Bunter and Wundenberg’s award for his 450th game, which was played last round. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography/Arctic Moon Photography

“We left it to the last couple of seconds,” Joseph said.

“We knew we sort of had to slow the game down a bit and fight it out — we figured it could be close.

“We gave ourselves a chance and it came down to that last shot at the end. It was low-scoring and a struggle for both teams, but we led JUmost of the night and it was fitting the boys made that last shot.”JU

The Buccs finally celebrated their Indigenous players and local culture after their July 3 NAIDOC Week match-up against the Southwest Slammers was postponed.

Phillip Bartlett provided didgeridoo tunes while Bernadette Jones performed a welcome to country, with Indigenous junior players scrimmaging at half-time and artist Phil Doncon showing off his painting skills.

Local sporting identity Lenny Papertalk gifted the team with a framed Indigenous uniform design, while the Redbacks and the umpires also received gifts.

The Buccs also celebrated Mat Wundenberg’s 450th game.

Muo’s winner followed a buzzer-beater by Wundenberg, who is out with a broken foot, earlier in the season.

With the scoreboard reading 65-67 to Perth and four seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Muo hit an angled jump shot from the three-point line to send the crowd wild, matching the drama of Wundenberg’s three-pointer from nearly the length of the court to down Rockingham Flames, 85-82.

A new group of senior players look to be emerging after 2019 State Basketball League winners Liam Hunt, Aaron Ralph and Wundenberg all succumbed to long-term injury, with championship ring winners James Paringatai, Brayden Inger, Brendan Di Nardo and Marcus Alipate all having moved on. Brandon Holloway, a new signing from the Goldfields Giants, played more than 30 minutes, scoring six points and taking seven rebounds.

With Holloway coming back from a knee injury and his best potentially yet to come, Joseph said he showed “direction and control” to make a big difference.

Muo, who has been a stand-out all season, grabbed 24 points including the winner and 11 boards. Elijah Barbour scored 16 points and shot 44.4 per cent from three-point range, and Kiwi import Taine Wattie, also on the way back from an injury, got 15 points and four boards.

Will Galvin played nearly 40 minutes, pulling down nine rebounds and getting two points and two assists.

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