Basketball: Breakers beaten once again

By Kris Shannon

Daryl Corletto paced the Breakers' offence during the defending champs' clash with the Crocs in Townsville tonight. Photo / Getty
Daryl Corletto paced the Breakers' offence during the defending champs' clash with the Crocs in Townsville tonight. Photo / Getty

Crocs 91
Breakers 78

So much for talk of a revival.

The Breakers lost their fifth game of the campaign at Townsville tonight, undoing any plans they had of embarking on the type of winning run so common in recent seasons.

The Crocs have only two wins to their name - both against the Breakers - but their win tonight saw them leap above the New Zealand side on the Australian NBL ladder.

They may be better than their 2-5 record but, the fact remains, last-placed Wollongong are the only team the Breakers have beaten this season.

Tonight's defeat was another which the Breakers could have won - and perhaps would have won in seasons past. After chasing the game for much of the night, the visitors pulled within four in the final quarter but they could never completely close the gap to grind out a tough victory.

While they thought they were over that hump following the win over Wollongong last Sunday, the Breakers slipped straight back to the pattern which brought four straight defeats.

The secret is out - the Breakers are fallible. Opposition sides no longer feel fear when the champs come charging back. It could be a difficult campaign.

Emerging from the first quarter trailing by only six was a satisfactory result for the Breakers considering their shots were failing to fall. The visitors, who finished with 39 per cent from the floor, began one-of-six to allow Townsville to shoot out to a 17-6 lead.

But the Breakers soon tightened the defensive screws and, struggling from long range, found some success in the paint, enjoying a 6-0 run to reduce the deficit towards the end of the period.

The second followed a familiar trend, with the Breakers' offence again going ice cold and allowing the Crocs to increase their advantage to 20. Turnovers weren't helping the visitors' cause and 11 in the half - including five from Mika Vukona - gave Townsville too many extra possessions.

Like they did during their round two victory, the home side's imports Brian Conklin and Josh Pace were doing the majority of the damage, scoring 25 of the Crocs' first 32 points and running amok in transition.

But back-to-back threes from Daryl Corletto gave the Breakers hope heading into the half, with Townsville taking a 10-point lead to the major break.

After being one of the Breakers' most effective players during the first half, Alex Pledger was forced to take a seat after picking up his third foul in the early moments of the second half. But, with Gary Wilkinson making consecutive baskets in Pledger's place, the Breakers halved the deficit and pulled within five for the first time since the opening quarter.

Despite the visitors falling into the foul bonus early in the period and allowing the Crocs the opportunity to boost their lead from the free throw line, the margin remained at five heading into the final quarter.

Townsville increased their advantage to nine in the fourth, as Vukona fouled out for the second straight game against the Crocs, before the Breakers rallied once more. They pulled within four after a couple more buckets from Wilkinson, but they couldn't close the gap any further and Townsville eventually ran out comfortable victors.

Crocs 91 (Conklin 35, Pace 21, Markovic 12)
Breakers 78 (Wilkinson 19, Corletto 15, Abercrombie 12)
HT: 47-37

- APNZ

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