A CLUTCH jump shot from Matt Andronicos with 31 seconds to play has helped the Bendigo Braves to a thrilling 89-87 win over SEABL south conference ladder leaders the Hobart Chargers.
The Braves were forced to rally from a seven point deficit early in the final quarter to improve their season record to 9-7 with a fourth straight win.
They showed great poise and resilience after a tip-in from the Chargers' Robert Heyer levelled the scores for the fifth time in the last term at 87-87 with 37 seconds to play.
But some last moment heroics from Andronicos, who led the Braves with 21 points, enabled the Braves to get their noses back in front and remain there.
Seconds after drilling his eventual game-winning jumper, the 2016 championship centre executed a game-saving steal.
Point guard Adam Doyle missed a chance to seal the win, with his shot with 20 seconds on the clock failing to land.
The Chargers recovered the ball, but their fate was sealed when Tom Garlepp missed a jump shot with three seconds to play, with Braves forward C.J. Aiken hauling in the rebound to bring a huge Bendigo Stadium crowd to their feet.
The win reversed an earlier season 23 point loss to the Chargers in Hobart.
Andronicos, who has averaged 21.5 points in two games against Hobart this season, said it was fantastic to get another win against a quality opponent.
The former NBL development player admitted a liking for playing against Hobart, with his 21 points on Friday night and 22 points in the earlier season match in Hobart his two highest scores in two years with the Braves.
"I think the fact they don't really have a true five man, they only have the fours, creates a bit of a mismatch in that area," he said.
"I'm happy to take advantage of it."
It was a game of firsts for Andronicos, who said he had never before hit the game winner at any level of basketball.
"It was pretty satisfying - and I barely get steals, so that feels good too," he said.
"And I dribbled the ball after that (steal), which is strange.
"I was looking for a guard, or anyone to please come take it off me."
Andronicos had plenty of opposition for the mantle of leading scorer, with Doyle and gun-import Dyami Starks both finishing with 20 points.
Aiken had a big night on the boards with a game-high 19 rebounds and 14 points.
Daniel Hansen contributed eight points, but Andronicos said it was the presence of co-captain Chris Hogan, who has played just 10 games this season, that had one of the most important effects on the team.
"It's good to see him back on the court - we lacked his leadership a little bit earlier in the season when he was out injured and didn't come on road trips," he said.
"His voice on the court and 300-odd games are invaluable."
A fourth straight win has left the Braves feeling confident about next week's match-up against a struggling, but nevertheless talented Frankston Blues.
"We are in a much better place then at the start of the season, we are really starting to gel very well as a team," Andronicos said.
"We've toppled the top teams in both conferences now and are really looking strong coming into finals."