Basketball: Breakers clinch NBL minor premiership

Cedric Jackson of the Breakers goes for the basket during the round 23 NBL match between the Adelaide 36ers and the New Zealand Breakers. Photo / Getty Images.
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers goes for the basket during the round 23 NBL match between the Adelaide 36ers and the New Zealand Breakers. Photo / Getty Images.

The New Zealand Breakers clinched the NBL minor premiership last night with a hard-fought 91-76 victory over the Adelaide 36ers.

The plucky Sixers remained in striking distance for much of the contest but couldn't sustain the pressure long enough to seriously challenge the top side at Adelaide Arena.

New Zealand led each of the first three quarters with last-gasp buckets and their composure was the difference between the two sides.

The visitors had too many offensive weapons as Thomas Abercrombie collected 10 of his 22 points in the final quarter, Gary Wilkinson nailed 21 and Cedric Jackson struck early to finish with 17 points and seven assists.

Daniel Johnson continued his consistent season with 21 points and nine rebounds for Adelaide, while Diamon Simpson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The opening 10 minutes were dominated by two players, Jackson sparkling with 13 points while Johnson was dominant under the ring with 12.

It was an even battle until an 11-0 New Zealand run - capped by a Jackson-to-Abercrombie buzzer-beating ally-oop - opened up a nine-point buffer at the first break.

Adelaide regrouped in the second quarter with a greater involvement from Simpson and a stronger resolve on defence, drawing level in the shadows of halftime.

But a costly turnover allowed Jackson to give New Zealand a 47-45 advantage at the long break.

It was scrappy beginning to the second half with just one bucket for each team in the opening three minutes.

An arm-wrestle ensued from that point, but a Simpson dunk and three-point play a short time later fired up the crowd.

But their excitement was short lived with Wilkinson dropping a buzzer-beating triple to put the Breakers nine ahead with 10 minutes to play.

Three-pointers to Abercrombie and Daryl Corletto kept the momentum with New Zealand and the lead quickly ballooned to 17 in the fourth quarter.

The Sixers battled hard but left too much to do in the final minutes.

-AAP

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