Basketball: Breakers ease past Tigers

New Zealand Breakers 87
Melbourne Tigers 74

Paul Henare of the Breakers runs the ball forward. Photo / Getty Images
Paul Henare of the Breakers runs the ball forward. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand Breakers will take winning momentum into the ANBL finals series, ending the regular season with a dominant 87-74 victory over the Melbourne Tigers in Melbourne tonight.

The Breakers sealed top spot well before tonight's match but they did not let up, leading from start to finish to end the season with an impressive 22-win, six-loss record, five wins ahead of the second-placed Townsville Crocodiles.

Centre Alex Pledger completed a fine allround match with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Mika Vukona added 14 points and Kirk Penney, favourite for the league's Most Valuable Player award, scored 12 points.

The Breakers will meet defending champions Perth in the ANBL semifinals.

They will host the fourth-placed qualifiers at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland on Thursday before embarking on the competition's longest road trip for the second match in Perth on Sunday.

The third and deciding game, if required, will be played in Auckland on April 13.

The Breakers have a 2-1 winning record against the Wildcats in season 2010-11.

They edged the opening match 96-94 on home court in October before being thrashed 114-74 in Perth - their heaviest defeat of the campaign - the following month.

The Breakers rebounded to shade game three 82-79 in February.

New Zealand Breakers 87 (Alex Pledger 16, Mika Vukona 14, Kirk Penney 12) Melbourne Tigers 74 (Cameron Tragardh 15, Daryl Corletto 15, Wade Helliwell 12). Halftime: 45-36.

- NZPA

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