Basketball: Breakers on cloud nine

By Kris Shannon

CJ Bruton of the Breakers. Photo / Getty Images
CJ Bruton of the Breakers. Photo / Getty Images

The Breakers are sitting on cloud nine after tonight's record-breaking win over Wollongong, but next week they face the one side capable of bringing them back down to earth.

With their gruelling summer schedule coming to a successful end, the Breakers (17-3) will take their nine-game winning streak into Friday night's encounter with Perth (13-4) _ a team that has handed the defending champions two of their three defeats this season.

Whether the Breakers can increase their club-record to 10 straight victories at Vector Arena remains to be seen - but, for now, they can reflect on an incredible month-long stretch.

That stretch was capped with a 91-74 victory at the Sandpit tonight, as the Breakers showed few signs of fatigue from Thursday night's win over Sydney in what was their eighth games in 30 days.

It was the two clubs' third meeting in three weeks and by far the most comprehensive, with the Breakers determined to celebrate their record streak in style.

The North Shore club clinched the previous two clashed by a combined three points, but a commanding 23-8 margin in the fourth quarter tonight shook off the Hawks and allowed the Breakers to breathe easy.

The Sandpit may have been something of a graveyard in the past - with the Breakers having won just four of 16 games at the venue heading the clash - but Cedric Jackson's 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds ensured the his side felt right at home.

The zone defence employed by Gordie McLeod usually poses problems for the Breakers, but they had no issues with it early on. CJ Bruton, who made a game-winning three the last time the Breakers went to Wollongong, was especially effective and punished his former team with three triples in quick succession.

Bruton's sharp-shooting helped the Breakers lead 22-19 at quarter-time, before they boosted that buffer to 11 with an 8-0 run in the second. But Wollongong soon embarked on an 8-0 run of their own to bring the deficit back to three.

The remainder of the half turned into something of a personal duel between the point guards, with Adris Deleon - who torched the Breakers with 34 points last week - scoring nine and Jackson managing eight. Jackson had the last laugh, though, as his side went to the major break with a 49-43 lead.

With Wollongong's shooting hovering around 60 per cent midway through the third, it was a credit to the Breakers' defence that they retained a handy advantage. New Zealand were hammering the Hawks on the boards, including a massive margin of 14 on the offensive glass, as the lead swelled to 11 with two minutes remaining in the third.

But those two minutes saw the Hawks make some serious inroads against the Breakers' bench, leaving the game balanced at 68-66 heading to the final period.

The Breakers burst out of the blocks in the fourth on a 16-1 run, however, as Daryl Corletto, Leon Henry and Tom Abercrombie all made huge threes to clinch the game and the record.

Wollongong 74 (Deleon 24, Grant 10, Forman 10)
Breakers 91 (Jackson 18, Henry 14, Abercrombie 11)
HT: 43-49

- APNZ

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