Basketball: Breakers overcome early wobbles to clinch minor premiership

Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers gets around Stephen Weigh of the 36ers. Photo / Getty Images.
Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers gets around Stephen Weigh of the 36ers. Photo / Getty Images.

Coach Andrej Lemanis was concerned about the Breakers' state of mind following their big away victory over Perth.

The victory in far-flung Western Australia taxed the Breakers physically and mentally and the hangover was plain to see against Adelaide last night before the Auckland side pulled away to win 91-76 against the Adelaide 36ers to clinch the minor premiership.

"In that first quarter in particular that [mental application] wasn't there, even the first half,'' Lemanis said.

"To the guys' credit, certainly in the second half, that was a big change for us. We started to apply ourselves defensively and we kept them to 31.''

The victory owed much to an improved mindset but also the work of Thomas Abercrombie, who scored 22 points - 10 in the final quarter - and Gary Wilkinson, who was next best with 21, including an important three-pointer to put the Breakers up by nine points with 10 minutes to play.

Abercrombie said his teammates had discussed a possible mental letdown after the Perth result which put them on course to quickly wrap up the minor premiership.

"They [Adelaide] were tough tonight, they came out especially in that first half and shot the ball pretty well.

"It took us a little while to shake them, for us it was about our defence in that first half and it took us too long to click into gear.''

Cedric Jackson was one of the few Breakers players to hit the ground running, he found his range early to finish with 17 points and seven assists.

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

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

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, but a Simpson dunk and three-point play fired up the crowd.

But their excitement was short lived with Wilkinson's timely triple giving the Breakers breathing room.

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

- APNZ

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