There were fiery scenes in the NBL when JackJumpers coach Scott Roth took exception to an opposition player appearing to mock him.
Tensions nearly boiled over between Tasmana JackJumpers coach Scott Roth and Illawarra Hawks star Antonius Cleveland following the Hawks’ dominant win in the NBL on Saturday night.
The JackJumpers made a fast start but Illawarra quickly took control of the game and put the defensive clamps on as they ran away with a 91-65 victory at Launceston’s Silverdome.
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But things took a heated turn after the final buzzer when Roth didn’t take kindly to Cleveland celebrating the win by flexing hard to the crowd on the sideline right next to Roth.
A furious Roth expressed his displeasure to Hawks coach Brian Goorjian and pursued Cleveland before being held back by players and officials.
“This is really in danger of spilling over,” a commentator said.
“This is not a good look for the JackJumpers coach. It might be wise to get Antonius Cleveland out of there.
“He went back for seconds, thirds and fourths, the JackJumpers coach.”
“There’s some ill feeling out there about the way that finished off,” another commentator said.
“Scott Roth’s not happy. He just needs to cool his jets.”
Roth has become known for celebrating Tasmania’s NBL victories wildly and it appeared he thought Cleveland was mocking his passionate post-match antics.
“He thinks he’s being mocked, he probably thinks he’s being mocked right there,” the commentator said.
ABC sports reporter Chris Rowbottom tweeted: “Antonius Cleveland appearing to mock Scott Roth’s post game crowd pump up theatrics, right under his nose.
“Roth wanted smoke well after the final buzzer.”
Roth was tight-lipped on the incident when asked about it in his post-match press conference.
“I don’t really have any other comments except this team is here to represent the entire state and we don’t back down from anybody,” he said.
“We’ll continue to fight and we just move on.”
Fans suggested Roth needs to get a thicker skin considering he so often dishes out boisterous post-game celebrations himself.
Hawks coach Goorjian said Cleveland was simply fired up after an important win, which sees the Hawks consolidate a spot in the top four ahead of the finals.
“With all the fist pumping and stuff after the game was over, I think there was so much emotion for this,” he said.
“Nothing but respect for the JackJumpers and the season they’re having and Scott Roth but also (I) love my kid and understand our guys have had their face rubbed in this thing a bit too along the way … after every team beats us they jump around and dance around.
“We’re finally getting a little momentum … I’m not going to take that away from them.”
“I’ve known Scott Roth for a long period of time and right now he’s the best coach in this. He’s got the most out of his team.
“There’s respect there, it’s just a little bit of to-and-fro — a handshake when it’s settled down and we go about our business.”