Panthers dunk Marlins in final

The Soweto Panthers are the Sprite Basketball League champions.

The Soweto Panthers are the Sprite Basketball League champions.

They achieved that feat after their narrow 79-78 win over the stubborn KwaZulu- Natal Marlins in the final.

Their game, which can best be described as electrifying, took place at Mandeville at the weekend.

It could could have gone either way.

Fans, who packed the Johannesburg venue, were on the edge of their seats from the tip-off until the dramatic dying moments.

It was clear from the opening opening five minutes that Marlins, who were expected to be easy meat, were not on holiday.

Their spirited start stunned Panthers fans.

But the home side soon settled into a rhythm and pulled ahead. The visitors from KwaZulu-Natal, who had seven wins and two losses in the regular season, narrowed the gap to 41-35 at half-time.

The undefeated Panthers looked to be cruising to another win. But the Marlins came back with more zeal in the second half.

They dominated the proceedings, created several scoring chances and rattled the hoop 14 times in five minutes to pull within one point of the Panthers with eight second remaining on the clock.

Christopher Clunier had the opportunity to swing the game in their favour but he missed a golden opportunity.

It was a great escape for the Panthers, with player Neo Mothiba named most valuable player.

Eight players from the Panthers left immediately after the game for Zimbabwe where they will participate in the African Championships qualifiers.