"In the huddle they decided to give me the ball and take the last shot," Russell Robinson said. Robinson drove, pulled up from about 12 feet and delivered the game-winner as the New York Gauchos defeated the Jackson Tigers 52-50.
Robinson's shot swished just as the buzzer sounded and brought an end to a hotly contested Peach Jam. Two teams with varying styles slugged it out.
The Tigers rode Al Jefferson, their big horse, for the entire game. Nary a possession passed in which "Big Al" didn't touch the ball. No AAU team in the country does as good a job as the Tigers at getting their franchise big man the basketball.
Jefferson, bound for the University of Arkansas, delivered as best he could. Facing constant double-teams and sagging defenses, he gutted his way to a game-high 23 points and 14 rebounds. Never once frustrated by the defensive attention, he kept his poise and just plugged away.
Meanwhile, the Gauchos utilized their own distinct offensive style. Without a Jefferson to dump it to inside, the Gauchos spread the floor and allowed their guards to attack just as they had done all tournament long.
Prior to Robinson's pull-up, the guard was having an average game by his standards. Robinson's running mates, Ronald Ramon and Sundiatta Gaines, weren't able to find their way to the basket against a much bigger Jackson front line. Together, Ramon and Gaines combined for 20 points. Robinson hit for 16 himself and everyone will remember the final shot.
Facing an overtime situation, Robinson knew what had to happen. "I knew [if I missed] they'd try and get it back down to Al to get it into overtime. I don't want to miss. I knew we'd have some trouble with Al Jefferson in overtime."
When it mattered most, Robinson didn't miss. In fact, the game-winner was the first of his career and it came on a national stage as the Gauchos walked away with the prestigious Peach Jam championship.
This is the Gauchos second major title of the year as they captured the Kingwood Classic Championship in April.
Faces In The Crowd
There was a grand total of one head coach in attendance for the championship game. That honor belonged to Rod Barnes of Mississippi who is recruiting Charles Thomas and Robert Clark. Wayne Brent, an Ole Miss assistant, accompanied Barnes.
Here's a list of the assistants who stayed until the very end: Rick Callahan (TCU), Cliff Warren (Georgia Tech), Oronde Taliafero (Arkansas), David Hobbs (Kentucky), Kevin Heck (Rutgers), Ernie Zeigler (UCLA), Kerry Keating (UCLA), Mike Jones (Georgia), Dermon Player (St. John's), Scott Edgar (UAB).
The next event we'll cover will be the adidas Big Time July 22-26. We'll have comprehensive coverage from start to finish!