The Bradford Dragons hosted a stunning triple-overtime thriller against City of Birmingham Rockets on Saturday evening in Division One of the National Basketball League.

With nothing to separate the two sides at the end of regulation time and two periods of overtime, the Dragons’ hearts were eventually broken by a buzzer beating trey at the end of the third additional passage of play, as the Rockets took an extraordinary 131-128 win.

The two sides had met just three weeks earlier, in the quarter finals of the KitKing Trophy, at Birmingham’s home court.

That too was a closely-fought contest, with the Dragons holding out to take an 85-82 win to book their spot in the semi-finals.

It was clear from that game alone that the two sides were very evenly matched, however nobody could have anticipated the events that were to unfold in the Dragons’ Den last weekend.

Bradford were boosted by Jordan Whelan’s return, having missed the previous week's fixture at Reading with neck and back problems.

Jabari Edwards, who limped out of the game at Reading, having turned his ankle, was also declared fit to play.

But the real headline on the Dragons’ roster was the inclusion of Albert Margai, who has missed almost three complete seasons through injury.  

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Albert Margai (10) has had to fight so hard to come back, and he played his part in a thriller.Albert Margai (10) has had to fight so hard to come back, and he played his part in a thriller. (Image: Max Lomas.)

The opening quarter set out the pattern of the game, with neither side being able to establish a commanding lead.

The Dragons did hold the advantage for the majority of the period, although never by more than five points.

They were behind with 30 seconds to go, but a layup from Whelan ensured that the two sides went into the first scheduled break level pegging at 24-24.

The two sides continued trading scores throughout the second quarter and as the buzzer sounded for half time there was only three points between the two sides, with the visitors leading 52-49.

After Birmingham stretched their lead to seven points, two jump shots from Micah Savery-Richards and a layup by Margai brought the home side back within a single point.

A three pointer from Justin Williams gave the Dragons a slim 62-61 lead at the mid-point of the quarter.

But then Birmingham hit a purple patch and started to pull away from the Dragons, ending the penultimate period 78-69 in front.

The hosts hit back in superb fashion, with Williams leading the way to bring his side level at 78-78.

Birmingham then responded with a pair of treys but the Dragons again struck back to lead 87-86 with four minutes left.

With two seconds of play left, a Birmingham trey looked to have sealed the game for them, making the score 94-91.

Bradford head coach Chris Mellor immediately called a time out, which allowed for the Dragons’ possession to be moved up into the offensive half of the court.

But with the clock now showing only one second of play remaining the cards were stacked up against the home side.

Joe Buchanan was tasked with putting the ball back into play from the sideline.

It looked at first that he was seeking a pass to Williams, however that proved to be a decoy and he found Rihards Sulcs in space on the edge of the arc, who rose immediately to take the shot.

There was nothing else to be done but watch, and as the buzzer sounded, the ball hit the backboard and went through the hoop, sending the game into overtime.

The Rockets founds themselves with a three-point lead with 12 seconds of overtime remaining on the clock but then Buchanan had success with a trey to tie the game back up at 108-108.

The two teams went again, with a second five-minute overtime period.

Once again, Bradford were forced to land a late trey, with Margai the one on this occasion to step up to the plate from distance to level the scores.

That, unbelievably, sent the game into a third overtime period.

The Dragons looked to have finally sealed victory when they went on an unanswered seven point run, which put them into a 126-121 lead with two minutes left.

The Rockets scored seven points unanswered of their own to retake the lead with 24 seconds remaining, but Williams was then fouled and sent to the line.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Justin Williams was still landing points on a regular basis until the final buzzer.Justin Williams was still landing points on a regular basis until the final buzzer. (Image: Max Lomas.)

He sank both shots to level the game at 128-128.

With the clock running down, Birmingham chose to shoot from distance and this time it was the Rockets that saw the ball go through the hoop at the sound of the buzzer.

The Dragons’ players slumped to the floor in dismay, having played a huge part in a remarkable match.

Birmingham’s 131-128 victory moves them on to a 2-0 record in the league so far, while the Dragons are winless in their opening three fixtures.

Justin Williams was once again the top scorer for the Dragons with 31 points, while also making eight assists.

In all, the Dragons had six players in double figures, with Sulcs the next best behind Williams on 21 points.

The Dragons host the Nottingham Hoods tomorrow, another team that currently have a 2-0 record in the league, with that game tipping off at 6:15pm.

Tickets can be bought via this link.