Basketball: No place like home for Breakers

By Kris Shannon of APNZ

Alex Pledger of the Breakers celebrates a point. Photo / Getty Images
Alex Pledger of the Breakers celebrates a point. Photo / Getty Images

NZ Breakers 80
Adelaide 36ers 63

The Breakers again showed there's no place like home by dispatching Adelaide 80-63 on the North Shore tonight.

Already possessing an enviable home record of six wins and one loss, the Breakers put their patchy three-game roadtrip behind them with a methodical mauling of the eighth-placed 36ers at a sold-out North Shore Events Centre.

It may not have been pretty at times, but the defending champions rode a solid all-round defensive performance to move back to the top of the Australian NBL standings with a 12-5 record, providing the perfect kickstart to a four-game home stand.

Coach Andrej Lemanis pointed to a conscious effort from his side to disrupt the Adelaide offence in the game's nascent stages, something which proved pivotal throughout the remainder of the contest.

"When you see it happen right from the start you know we're playing with the right mindset," he said. "You can set a tone with your defence early on."

The Breakers did that, taking the lead in the opening minutes and never looking back, keeping the 36ers at arms' length for the first half before all-but clinching the game late in the third quarter.

Adelaide (5-11) will be positively sick of the sight of the Breakers, dropping their 10th straight game to the North Shore club.

The 36ers are the not-so-proud owners of the league's worst defence, but it was the other end of the floor which hurt them tonight. They managed a season-low 63 points, 24 fewer than their average, as the Breakers' defence turned the screws on Adelaide's twin tower scoring combination of Daniel Johnson (7) and Diamon Simpson (8), in particular.

Lemanis said that power outage was no accident, with the pair commanding significant scouting time in the lead-up to tonight's game.

"They take a big part of the scout, how effective they are for Adelaide, and it's a challenge for our post men to do a job on them."

The job was effective enough to counter an occasionally patchy Breakers' offence. A game-high 22 points from Tom Abercrombie and a combined 29 from American imports Gary Wilkinson and Cedric Jackson proved more than enough to secure their second straight victory.

A victory, according to Lemanis, built predominantly on a rebounding rout - 50 to 24 for the game - and contributions from the full squad.

"I though the effort and the energy levels on the defensive end were very good," he said. "That's how we play - we're ten-deep and everyone comes in and contributes and that's how we're able to continue to play at that sustained level of intensity."

It was a scrappy first quarter with the teams guilty of elementary mistakes like travelling and shot-clock violations. But the Breakers held the edge in shooting (50 per cent from the field) and rebounding (14-6) and, with it, a 26-16 edge on the scoreboard.

If the first quarter was scrappy the second was downright dull, as both sides struggled to create and maintain any momentum.

That was due in large to poor ball retention at both ends of the court, with the sides seemingly running a turnover duel throughout the half, a battle the 36ers won 14-9.

But the Breakers won the low-scoring period 17-14 to extend their lead to 13 at the halftime break.

To their credit, Adelaide refused to wilt like may be expected of a 5-10 team, continuing to cling to the Breakers' coattails as the third stanza opened.

But they began to noticeably tire late in the quarter and the Breakers pulled away to lead by 19 at the final break.

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter, as the 36ers never got the deficit near single figures.

Breakers 80 (Abercrombie 22, Wilkinson 17, Jackson 12)
Adelaide 63 (Warren 14, Weigh 10, Bartlett 9)

- APNZ

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