Basketball: Champions in cruise control as Tigers wilt

By Steve Deane

Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers. File photo / Getty Images
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers. File photo / Getty Images

Breakers 91 Tigers 77

Winning is starting to look awfully easy for the Breakers as they coast towards the ANBL playoffs.

The defending champions were in cruise control last night at the North Shore Events Centre, seeing off the slumping Melbourne Tigers in a manner so convincing it was almost mundane.

The packed stands at what was a third consecutive sellout, though, suggest fans are finding the club's rampant success far from dull.

Next week the Breakers again take their act to the much larger Vector Arena. The way things are going, it would be a major surprise if they didn't pack out the central city venue.

There is much to admire about the way they are going about their business. When the mood takes them they play lock down defence, strangling the life out of their opponents.

On offence they have become a vastly improved side and still have the shooters to light it up from the outside when they must.

It's a potent mix that has taken them once again to the top of the ladder, although Perth will join them if they win tonight. Those two clubs now have a significant buffer over the chasing pair of North Queensland clubs, Townsville and Cairns.

Below them, the Tigers continue to sink while Gold Coast and Sydney are still struggling.

From the outset last night the Breakers exposed the Tigers' defence, with their first three baskets coming from uncontested lay-ups. But while the Tigers can be a soft touch on defence, they don't lack scoring ability and the Breakers were also left looking a little silly late in the quarter.

The teams traded baskets to the tune of 21-21 at quarter time and the same pattern continued for the first half of the second quarter, with the tit-for-tat nature of the contest conjuring memories of the double-overtime classic last time these sides met in Auckland. The Breakers eventually made the game's first surge, with a 12-0 run carrying them to a handy 43-33 halftime lead.

Cameron Tragadh, the league's leading scorer, was a strangely subdued figure, ending with just 12 points.

A 29-point offensive explosion capped by a barrage of three CJ Bruton three-pointers and Gary Wilkinson's buzzer-beater saw the Breakers take total control by the end of the third quarter.

Judging by the unfortunate efforts of back-up point guard Shane McDonald, the new American import the Tigers have signed to replace Ayinde Ubaka can't arrive soon enough.

Given that he'll be joining a club that appears to be as dysfunctional off the court as it is on it, Myron Allen will want to be some player.

Ubaka wasn't the only import shown the door this week, with bottom-placed Wollongong parting ways with Showron "Showtime" Glover.

While their competitors continue to cycle through imports in the hope of finding a miracle man, the Breakers have no such issues. Cedric Jackson might not be turning water into wine any time soon, but he continues to shred opposition defences with a graceful ease. Last night the league's leader in assists chalked up another 12 to go with 10 points and five rebounds.

Wilkinson, in his second season with the club after helping lead it to a maiden title last year, led all scorers with 21 points.

Both imports continue to provide fine value, although such was the routine nature of last night's victory that the pair could probably have sat out the match and the Breakers would still have got home.

- NZ Herald

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