Breakers win in overtime thriller

Leon Henry. Photo / Getty Images.
Leon Henry. Photo / Getty Images.

Breakers 104
Wildcats 98

In the end they didn't need him. No Abercrombie, no worries. Well, not too many.

Tom Abercrombie and his dodgy ankle suited up but spent the entire match on the bench and had one of the best views of a game that was as dramatic as a grand final series should be.

The two teams couldn't be separated after normal time but the Breakers edged ahead in overtime to claim a crucial 1-0 lead in the best of three-game series.

It was a game of thrust and counter-thrust. Just as one team looked to have taken control, the other replied. Many had predicted the series to be one of the all-time greats. If the first game was anything to go by, it will be.

The Breakers now have the chance to wrap it up in Perth next Friday night - a third game will be played in Auckland if required.

They would have dearly loved to have Abercrombie and his explosive game out there but instead it was a couple of wily veterans and an American import who played the biggest hands.

Dillon Boucher and CJ Bruton got the Breakers going when they started shockingly, with Boucher chucking himself around the court like a stage diver at a rock concert and Bruton (20 points) nailing some big three-pointers, but Cedric Jackson played a starring role before fouling out late in overtime.

He's not normally known as a scorer but he stepped up when his team needed him the most. Perth didn't help themselves by allowing Jackson time and space to penetrate.
The American is at his best driving to the basket and dishing it off to a teammate, and he did it almost at will at times, but he also went to the rim himself a few times and led the Breakers with 25.

Jackson has ambitions of being in the NBA next season but the Breakers will hope it doesn't work out for him and he will return to Auckland next season.

It was Jackson who got the Breakers going initially with a trademark drive to the basket after they had let Perth open out to an 11-0 lead before some of the sold out crowd of 9125 at Vector Arena had even taken their seats.

It looked like the Breakers were suffering from stage fright as they made errors, missed shots and lost the dribble but the Breakers then scored 22 of the next 26 points, including five three-pointers, to claim an unlikely 28-24 first-quarter lead.

The swagger - Perth coach Rob Bevereidge prefers to call it arrogance - returned as the Wildcats lost their range and they started to work the inside when the three-pointers inevitably dried up. By halftime the Breakers led 50-35 and there seemed no way back for Perth.

There was. The second half started in much the same way as the first as Perth rattled off quick points to take an unlikely 53-52 lead inside five minutes.

They led for most of the the rest of the match as the Breakers lost their way. But the home side found something else and got back into it even when they trailed by six points with only three minutes remaining. Again, it was Boucher, Bruton and Jackson who came to the fore.

They looked the better side as they held their nerve in overtime.

Boucher had the final say, literally, when he said they hadn't finished yet. They haven't, but they have started well.

- APNZ

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