The Breakers proved too strong for the Townsville Crocodiles in
Townsville last night, winning a stop start affair 76-69 taking their record to 21 and
6 and in doing so confirming the same opponent for their semifinal series starting at
Vector Arena next Friday night.
Coach Andrej Lemanis started a familiar line-up with Corletto, Jackson, Vukona,
Abercrombie and Wilkinson on the floor but on the bench the minor premiers were
undermanned with BJ Anthony injured and an ill Leon Henry not suiting up, leaving
the Breakers with just 9 fit players.
An even first quarter exploded into life thanks to a triple dose of three's, the first
coming from veteran guard CJ Bruton who scored with his first shot of the night.
Development player Josh Bloxham (in for Anthony) fired in from long range on the
back of a Mika Vukona steal before Bruton again nailed from long range to see the
Breakers lead by 12 at the first break and silence the home crowd at 'The Swamp'.
The game then turned into a long range clinic with the second quarter seeing three's
from Wilkinson and Jackson cancelled out by similar efforts from Eddie Gill and Todd
Blanchfield as the Crocs started to find their rhythm, so much so that in six minutes
the Crocs piled in 22 points and closed the gap to just 3 points, trailing 40 - 43 and
back in the game at the main break thanks largely to 7 turnovers committed by the
Breakers in the quarter.
If the second quarter saw the Breakers offence drying up, the third quarter they were
barren, scoring just 9 points to hand the Crocs the lead for the first time since the
opening minutes, albeit strong work on the defensive end kept the deficit to just 1
point going into the final ten minute spell.
Nervous fans watching the live stats back in New Zealand need not have worried
though, with the Breakers picking up the pace as they liked in the final quarter,
Wilkinson leading the way with 9 of his 16 points as the back to back minor premiers
made a statement in the backyard of the team they will match up against again in a
week's time in the semi finals.
That they did so while giving development player Josh Bloxham 16 minutes of vital
experience and without back up big men in BJ Anthony and Leon Henry simply underlines the depth in the team on a night when Jackson (2 of 11), Corletto (1 of 5) and Vukona (1 of 7) all struggled from the floor but contributed on defence to ensure a comfortable win in enemy territory.
The team will now travel to the Gold Coast to play the Blaze in their final regular
season game on Sunday night before returning home to prepare for the first semi
final against the Crocodiles on Friday night at an all but sold out Vector Arena (only
restricted viewing seats remain on sale).
Townsville Crocodiles 69
Elvin Mimms 14, Eddie Gill 11
SKYCITY Breakers 76
Tom Abercrombie 20, Gary Wilkinson 16
H/T 40 - 43