With all due respect to those who usually can’t get behind watching tape-delayed sporting events, this one ended up being one worth staying up late for… if you’re an Iowa Energy fan, that is.
With pivotal Game 3 of the NBA Development League Finals ultimately airing a few hours after the real-time final buzzer, the Suns’ affiliate took home their first league title this past weekend, defeating the defending-champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 119-111, in the best-of-three series.
Amid 22 lead changes in front of the home crowd, Energy guard Stefhon Hannah tallied a game-high 31 points to go along with eight boards, three assists and three steals in the championship win. 2011 League MVP Curtis Stinson, who entered the game averaging a triple-double in the series, was in and out of Iowa’s lineup after taking a knee to the head and then injuring his right hip after a pair of dives for loose balls in the first half.
2010 Suns Training Camp invitee Matt Janning went 5-of-9 from the outside en route to 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Valley Vipers, who also got a team-best 29 points and a game-high-tying 11 boards from guard Jerel McNeal in a losing effort.
Entering the fourth quarter down 88-81, the appropriately named Energy came out of the gate with just that – an energetic 21-5 run to begin the frame and to ice the franchise’s first-ever championship. A 34-16 differential from the free-throw line certainly didn’t hurt Iowa, either.
While enacting a personal media blackout for the night so as to not find out the final score before watching a tape-delayed telecast can be a killer for any sports fan, there is a worse thing than shielding your eyes from scrolling score tickers and game text alerts for a few hours – namely dropping a championship-deciding game.