Spurred by the up-tempo attack of two-time MVP Steve Nash, the Crusaders jumped out to a six-point advantage at the end of the first. Realizing the height advantage possessed by his squad, Nash featured big men Shaquille O'Neal and Tom Chambers early and often, with the duo scoring nine of the club's first 13 points. However, the Mavens would cut this deficit to two heading into the break, fueled by unlikely hero Oliver Miller's three straight buckets.
Whatever halftime speech was delivered in the Crusaders locker room, the team took the message to heart, as the Crusaders came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter, besting the Mavens by seven in the period to take a nine-point leading heading into the fourth. Chambers and O'Neal continued to dominate the glass on both sides of the floor, and the O.C. was aided by contributions from Raja Bell and Dick Van Arsdale. With Quentin Richardson and Nash chipping in shots to start the fourth, the outlook seemed bleak for the Mavens.
Luckily for the Mavens, a storm WAS brewing on the horizon in one "Thunder" Dan Majerle. The team's namesake came alive in the fourth, burying turnarounds and tip-ins, and with help from Channing Frye and Shawn Marion, the Mavens took the lead with just minutes to go.
The Crusaders had an answer of their own, as a Nash jumper returned the advantage in O.C.'s favor. Chambers added a shot of his own, and with just 16 seconds to go, it appeared the Crusaders would be hoisting the tournament cup. Yet the Mavens had come too far to bow out in such a manner, as The Matrix hit two close runners in the final 10 seconds, including a contested attempt at the buzzer, to push the tilt into overtime.
The extra period seemed like Groundhog's Day for the Mavens, as the Crusaders kept feeding their beasts down low, and two long-range bombs from Bell gave the Crusaders crew a six-point lead.
Yet crafty veteran Grant Hill would not let his team go quietly into the night, as two jumpers, including an and-one, brought the Mavens back from the dead, down just one with 28 seconds to go. Boris Diaw, exploited by the Crusaders all night, finally came through on the defensive end, halting a Chambers' effort to give the Mavens the last shot.
Though he had 23 points up to that juncture, Jeff Hornacek had been relatively quiet for most of the night. History will hold a different perspective, as the Iowa State product found an opening on the right block and knocked in a shorter jumper to give the Mavens the lead. A last-second endeavor by Chambers came up short, giving Majerle's Mavens the triumph.
For the Mavens, Marion earned Player of the Game honors thanks to 22 points, 10 boards, six steals and five assists. Majerle added a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Hornacek's 25 points paced the club. In the losing effort, Chambers led all scorers with 33 points, and Nash finished with 23 points and 11 dimes.
Rosters: The Orange Crusaders (GM: Brad Faye) - Majerle's Mavens (GM: Dan Hilton)
Player of the game: Shawn Marion (22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 5 assists)
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Majerle's Mavens 57.9% - The Orange Crusaders 42.1%
Average Score of 1,001 Simulations: Majerle's Mavens 113.0 - The Orange Crusaders 110.3