Basketball: Breakers go down to Wildcats

Mika Vukona of the Breakers. Photo / Getty Images
Mika Vukona of the Breakers. Photo / Getty Images

Perth have spiced up the battle for the NBL minor premiership by shattering the five-match winning streak of ladder leader New Zealand.

The Wildcats (9-5) moved within one win of the Breakers (10-4) following an emphatic 86-62 conquest of New Zealand at a sold-out Challenge Stadium in Perth.

Third-placed Melbourne (8-6) also moved closer to the Breakers following a hard fought 67-65 home win over Cairns (6-7).

Gold Coast and Townsville (both 6-5) remained in the playoff picture by beating stragglers Adelaide (4-9) and Sydney (6-8) respectively.

The Blaze scored a thumping 96-77 home win over the 36ers and the Crocs shaded the Kings 100-93 in Sydney.

In Perth, Jesse Wagstaff scored 23 and Kevin Lisch 18 for the Wildcats.

The Breakers were held to their lowest score of the season and made just three out of 22 three-point attempts.

New Zealand scored the first point of the game, but that was their only lead.

They trailed by 27 at halftime and never got closer than 15, as they crashed to their biggest loss of the campaign.

Perth captain Shawn Redhage, making his 200th appearance for the Wildcats, was taken to hospital after being poked in the eye.

In Melbourne, Cairns produced a late 7-0 run to get within one point of the Tigers inside the last 30 seconds.

The Taipans, who were without import Jamar Wilson due to a foot injury, got a match-high 20 points from their other American guard, Andrew Warren.

On the Gold Coast, the Blaze trailed by three at the first change, but overpowered the 36ers 59-41 across the two middle quarters.

Blaze guard Adam Gibson followed up his 28-point Player of the Week winning performance against Perth with a 27-point haul against the 36ers, while forward Tom Garlepp blocked five shots.

In Sydney, Townsville's veteran guards Eddie Gill and Peter Crawford scored 26 and 22 respectively and dominated the game down the stretch.

Townsville hit 16 of 32 three-point attempts and Sydney 11 of 27.

Crawford, who nailed eight threes against Melbourne last week, dropped six more on Sydney.

Jacob Holmes added 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Sydney enjoyed a 42-29 advantage on the boards, with centre and co-captain Julian Khazzouh notching 17 points and 13 rebounds and import forward Jerai Grant 18 points and 12 boards.

Last-placed Wollongong (3-9) were the only team not to play in the final round before Christmas.


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