The Otago Daily Times counts down the 150 greatest
moments in Otago sport.
No 28: Jerome Fitchett's buzzer-beater
Jerome Fitchett celebrates with Nuggets fans. Photo from
It is the greatest moment in Otago Nuggets history and
one of the single most dramatic plays in the rich fabric of
But the guy who pulled it off wasn't even supposed to have
the ball in his hands.
In just their second season in the National Basketball
League, the Nuggets claimed a fairytale one-point win in the
playoffs over the powerful Nelson Giants.
The key moment came with seconds remaining at Auckland's ASB
Stadium. The Nuggets, trailing 77-75, called a time-out,
after which young forward Brent Matehaere inbounded the ball.
It got to Euan Lockhart, who flung a desperate pass to
American import Jerome Fitchett.
He jacked up an ambitious three-point attempt and, even
though he wasn't a great outside shooter, the ball went
through the net.
Cue the pandemonium, as Fitchett took off on a celebratory
run, followed by the eager Matehaere.
Fitchett finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, supported
by fellow American Leonard King (28 points).
The Nuggets then got off to a great start in the semifinal
against the Hutt Valley Lakers when Fitchett completed a
spectacular left-handed dunk.
With the Americans, Michael Hurring and Euan Lockhart
dominating the floor, the Nuggets pulled into a 74-66 lead
and seemed to have one foot in the final. But Fitchett fouled
out, Glen Denham was struggling with injury and the Lakers,
led by Tony Brown and Darryl Johnson, came back to win
104-99, and went on to beat the Saints in the final.
Fitchett, a star at Florida State University, first played
for Otago in 1989 and then returned in 1991.
A dominant rebounder and skilled athlete, he was best known
for his vicious dunking.
Team-mates and fans from the era remember his signature dunk
- taking off from the foul line, something only a couple of
NBA stars had tried before.
Fitchett went on to play in Israel, Hong Kong and China.
He also played in the Continental Basketball Association and
the Canadian national league.
After retiring, Fitchett was an assistant coach and talent
evaluator at various small colleges and high schools. He has
also done some broadcasting and charity work.