An unhappy holiday roadtrip ended on a high tonight as the Breakers snapped a two-game skid with a 90-79 win over the Melbourne Tigers at The Cage.
The Breakers rode a huge third quarter performance from Tom Abercrombie to defeat the team directly behind them on the Australian NBL ladder, improving to 5-4 in Australia and 11-5 on the season.
Abercrombie, who missed the only shot he took in the first half, warmed up at the perfect time to score 14 points in the third quarter, as the Breakers overcame a five-point halftime deficit to lead by seven at the final break. They didn't let that lead slip, instead riding the momentum to an 11-point win.
It was a huge boost for the North Shore club after they had lost two straight on the road by a combined 41 points. The Breakers' swagger was back, their radar rediscovered and their second spot on the table consolidated in a match more important for the team's psyche than their record.
Abercrombie led the Breakers with 18 points, Daryl Corletto exacted revenge on his former club with 15 and CJ Bruton notched 14 in his second game back from injury.
Point guard Cedric Jackson again fell agonisingly short of a triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 11 assists and 9 boards.
Not even a game-high 22 from the league's best scorer Cam Tragardh - who has punished the Breakers to the tune of 110 points in five games - could spoil the party for the New Zealanders.
The last time these teams met at The Cage it was a tight, defensive affair, but all caution was abandoned in the first quarter tonight. In fact, it seemed as if defence was a foreign concept to both sides as the Tigers jumped out to a 27-26 lead at the first break.
The teams were both consistently shooting above 60 per cent, as the field goal woes that plagued the Breakers' last two losses appeared absent.
Both teams starting to cool off a little in the second quarter, as their shooting percentages finally fell back to earth. If the Breakers' shooting had improved from their two-game slump, their ball retention hadn't, as they had turned over the ball nine times in the first half.
The Tigers were keeping pace with the Breakers in the rebounding department - an area in which the North Shore club usually dominate - helping to explain why the hosts were head into the sheds up 45-40. The size of the gap was actually encouraging for the Breakers, considering the first-half performances of two key men.
An injury doubt before the game with a banged-up shoulder, Abercrombie - who scored 33 points the last time these teams clashed - ended the half with one point 15 minutes of court time while Gary Wilkinson, another who missed practice during the week with injury, managed only four points.
In the second spell, the Tigers' lead pushed back out to nine but Daryl Corletto, playing in his home town for the second time since leaving the club, nailed back-to-back threes to reduce the deficit to one.
The Breakers didn't let Melbourne pull away from them this time, with a pair of Abercrombie free throws giving the Breakers their first lead of the night. The swingman then rammed home the advantage with ten straight points as the Breakers ended the third quarter up by seven.
And the Breakers took the advantage Abercrombie handed to them into the fourth quarter, turning a close contest into a confidence-boosting cruise.
Melbourne 79 (Tragardh 22, Ubaka 17, Rush 16)
Breakers 90 (Abercrombie 18, Corletto 15, Bruton 14)
- APNZBy Kris Shannon