Basketball: Breakers battle back to beat Adelaide

Mika Vukona powers towards the basket against Adelaide last night. Photo / Getty Images
Mika Vukona powers towards the basket against Adelaide last night. Photo / Getty Images

Breakers 86
Adelaide 73

The Breakers last night had their fourth consecutive win in Adelaide and eighth in a row over the 36ers.

The win was the result of another all-round performance from the Breakers with five players in double points. American import Gary Wilkinson led the way with a game-high 30 points while point guard Cedric Jackson kept the statisticians busy with 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and 11 points.

The 36ers started hot, putting aside the disappointment of having captain Adam Ballinger sidelined with an ankle injury. Shooting 12 of 19 in the first quarter, the home side led 27-23 at the first break.

Jackson was offering no excuses for the slow start.

"We started slowly but relied on our defence to get back in the game. Adelaide are great at home but we had to fix our slow start, especially on the road.

"We kept saying just to keep on doing what we are doing; play better defence and our shots would come. The key was to keep calm, keep doing what we have been doing all season; we got our groove back and went clear in the end."

Wilkinson provided the early offence with 15 first-half points while Tom Abercrombie was having a quiet scoring night. Mika Vukona was being kept off the boards but picked up 5 early points before being sat down with two early fouls. The Breakers were again dominating the boards though with Jackson and Dillon Boucher ably assisted by Alex Pledger.

Momentum turned towards the visitors in the final 44 seconds of the half and it was the Jackson/Pledger show with Pledger picking up 4 quick points, both on Jackson assists before the Breakers point guard blocked Adelaide import Chris Warren and picked up a defensive board to shut down the final play of the half and leave the Breakers trailing by just one point at 45-44.

If the first half was slow, the second began with a Breakers blitz as the visitors stunned the 36ers with a 12-point run to lead by 11, led by Wilkinson and Daryl Corletto while Abercrombie continued to struggle, finishing the third quarter with just the one point from the free-throw line.

The 36ers quickly responded with a run of 8 points of their own to close the game up as both teams went blow for blow into the third quarter break, with the Breakers holding on to a narrow lead at 61-60 with 10 minutes to play.

If the third quarter start was down to Wilkinson, the fourth was similarly explosive thanks to Jackson. The energetic point guard was scoring slowly to this point but a quick 5 points silenced the home crowd.

But with 4m 25s to play Jackson hobbled off with a recurrence of an ankle strain and with Mika Vukona sitting on 4 personal fouls, the Breakers looked vulnerable leading by eight. Wilkinson sensed that, too, and the big man responded with two three pointers to extend back out to a double digit lead with 2 minutes to play.

The Breakers have a grand final rematch against the Cairns Taipans at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday night.

- NZ Herald

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