A big night from Tom Abercrombie helped the Breakers maintain their grip on top spot in the ANBL, with the defending champions vanquishing bogey team Wollongong on the North Shore last night.
Abercrombie notched 25 points from an 11/16 shooting display as the Breakers overcame a sluggish start to reverse Saturday's heavy defeat by the Hawks.
The win gives the Breakers a little breathing room ahead of a tough run home that includes a trip to Perth and home and away matches against the surging Gold Coast Blaze and fellow playoff chasers Townsville.
Games between these two are seldom easy on the eye and last night's encounter stuck to that trend. Ugly might be overstating it, however it was certainly a grim struggle, with turnovers outnumbering assists on both sides.
After two sub-par nights against the Hawks this season, Cedric Jackson (20-points, 10 rebounds) seemed intent on a big outing. He took the ball to the hoop successfully enough, however a lack of finishing at the rim meant points often went begging. Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger were also guilty of that and the Breakers were made to pay for their wastefulness, with Tyson Demos hitting a three-pointer with seconds remaining to give the Hawks an 18-16 quarter-time lead.
While the Breakers wouldn't have been thrilled with that return, they were at least successful in neutralizing the threat of Oscar Forman, with the former Breaker not putting up a single shot in the quarter.
The Breakers' frustration with an uneven refereeing display eventually boiled over in the second quarter, with Jackson copping a technical foul for backchat. Jackson was no doubt questioning the lack of a foul call on the previous play, and he might well have also had an issue with a missed call on a clear piece of goal-tending.
Australian official Brad Giersch would have been the main object of the Breakers' angst, with his calls almost exclusively favouring the Hawks.
Whatever his frustrations, Jackson's boilover helped dig his side into an eight-point hole late in the second quarter.
A late fightback trimmed that deficit to just two at halftime, however recent history hardly inspired confidence the Breakers were about to break the Hawks' stranglehold over their offence.
No player on either side notched double figures in the half, while Forman - who poured in 29 points in the Hawks' victory on Saturday night - was still to put up a shot.
Gary Wilkinson was the next to lose his temper with Giersch, with the big American slapped with another technical foul after disputing a charge call.
The resulting free-throws put the Breakers in another five-point hole, however CJ Bruton struck back immediately to negate the damage.
A mid-court steal and runaway lay-up from Jackson put the Breakers in front late in the quarter, while Giersch received the biggest, albeit ironic, cheer for calling a foul on Abercrombie.
An Abercrombie jump shot on the buzzer gave the Breakers a two-point lead heading into the final quarter and a fast start stretched that to seven, with Leon Henry's dunk giving the Breakers their biggest lead of the match.
Forman finally came to life with five straight points to keep the Hawks in it but when Abercrombie connected with a three pointer with just over three minutes remaining the Breakers had finally done enough to vanquish an opponent that troubles them more than most.By Steve Deane Email Steve