The disappointment of exiting the NBL title race soon turned to emotion of a different kind for the New Zealand Breakers, when bidding farewell to Kirk Penney.
Kirk Penney's Breakers team mates perform a haka in his honour at his final game in the NBL.
One of New Zealand's finest ever basketballers, Penney played his last top-flight game in the gripping 88-86 overtime loss to Melbourne United in Auckland on Monday.
The 37-year-old was a productive member of a fighting Breakers display which came up short, resulting in a 2-0 loss in the semi-final series.
But he became the centre of attention afterwards, with his retirement acknowledged by both teams in scenes which induced tears from players, spectators and the veteran himself.
Penney was visually moved as the Breakers players were joined by coach Paul Henare and Melbourne's New Zealand forward Tohi Milner-Smith for a haka on court.
The remaining Melbourne players watched in the final act of a 20-year professional career which Henare described as fitting.
"For Kirky, it's not the perfect way to go out but it's pretty darn close," Henare said.
"He's one of New Zealand's greatest ever, without a doubt.
"He made some big ones (shots), he made some good plays. He played hard and he left it all out there for sure. Unreal, just turning back the clock."
From a successful US college stint with the Wisconsin Badgers to flirtations with the NBA and a host of high-profile European contracts, Penney's career has flourished.
He is best-recognised in New Zealand for his Tall Blacks deeds and three high-scoring stints with the Breakers which included a key role in the first of the four titles in 2010.
Henare says the post-game respect shown by Melbourne's players summed up the Penney legacy.
"A lot of those guys wouldn't know him that well but they'd know the type of career that he's had. I respect them for showing that respect and love as he walked off the floor."
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman, a former Breakers mentor, says Penney's longevity and professionalism made him stand apart in the NBL.
Preparing to counter him was challenging every time, he said.
"How do you guard him, how do you stop him catching the basketball?" Vickerman said.
"He's a quality person and an unbelievable guy taking care of himself. At 37 and to still be playing at that high level is a credit to him."