|Collin Sexton led Alabama's bid of an improbable 3-beat-5 upset of Minnesota in 2017.|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MAKATI--Many basketball fans around the world would remember the infamous bench-clearing brawl between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers on July 2 last year at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue.
[Related Story: Australia, Gilas engage in free-for-all in crucial WCQ match]
However, some of them, particularly those who follow the US NCAA, would also remember an immediate precedent to the said brawl.
On Nov. 26, 2017 (Philippine Time), chaos ensued in a showdown between Alabama and Minnesota at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Golden Gopher Dupree McBrayer and Crimson Tide player Dazon Ingram exchanged blows following the latter's hard final foul with 13:39 left in the second half.
Five more Alabama players joined the fracas and were sent off for clearing the bench, leaving the team with only four players eligible to play.
Worse, John Petty sat out the rest of the second half with a leg injury incurred later in the half, and the Crimson Tide had to play the final 10:17 of the match with only three players.
And the unthinkable happened.
Collin Sexton came alive in the virtual fourth quarter of the said game as Alabama nearly eclipsed Minnesota's 14-point lead and cut it to just three, 83-80, at crunch time.
However, the Tide lost steam and the Gophers eventually survived, 89-84.
Recalling the said game, Sexton, who is now in the pros with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, quipped, "That game was crazy, but I enjoyed it."
Sexton added that he and his Alabama teammates learned a lot from that game.
"As a team, we just gotta make sure that we make smarter decision... [and] no matter what the odds are, just keep playing," he said about the Tide's takeaways from the game.
He then shared his personal lessons from the game: "Never give up pretty much. Just keep playing and don't let everybody bet against you."
Sexton finished with 40 points in that incredible gallant stand by Alabama, and he believes it factored a lot in him getting selected early into the NBA Draft the following year.
"I feel it helped a lot," the eighth overall pick of the 2018 draft said.
Sexton is in town as a special guest in the Jr. NBA National Training Camp happening this weekend.
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