Basketball: Breakers streak stretches to seven

By Kris Shannon

Dillon Boucher. Photo / Getty Images.
Dillon Boucher. Photo / Getty Images.

Adelaide 66
Breakers 84

The Breakers could have been forgiven for stumbling in today's game against Adelaide, but instead rode a huge third quarter to their seventh straight win.

The defending champions and league leaders have been handed a brutal schedule of late, racking up the air miles as they jetted back and forth from Australia during a four-game summer sweep across the ditch.

The constant travelling looked to have caught up with the players, with a scratchy performance against Wollongong at home on Thursday night resulting in a one-point win.

They were further hampered at the Adelaide Arena by the loss of starting centre Alex Pledger, who sustained an ankle injury in the first quarter of Thursday's game.

But, as they have time and again shown during the current streak, the Breakers (15-3) flourish rather than fall when they are faced with obstacles.

Last time they encountered Adelaide (6-12), three weeks ago also across the Tasman, the North Shore club trailed by 14 heading into the final quarter before emerging with an improbable five-point win.

Today's triumph held none of that drama, with a 24-10 third period giving the Breakers a lead they never relinquished en route to their 14th consecutive victory against Adelaide.

An even game was blown open by 10 straight points from Daryl Corletto as the guard and his teammates clicked into an offensive groove which has been largely lacking in recent weeks.

The Breakers talk often about their defence setting the tone for what happens at the other end of the court, and assistant coach Dean Vickerman thought that was again the trigger for the third quarter fireworks.

"We talked about commitment to our on-ball defence and our disruption at halftime,'' he said. "In the first five minutes of the third quarter they didn't score, and that's where we won the game. Everybody was committed to the defence in that quarter and we made some shots as well.''

Before that offensive outburst, the two teams could hardly be separated in a fluctuating first half which saw the scores tied at the conclusion of both quarters. Vickerman said he wasn't worried about the lowly 36ers managing to hold their own, with some recent history providing assurance the Breakers could eventually pull away.

"We were 21 down here at halftime last time so we felt like we were in a pretty good position today. Obviously this group has to be motivated, and sometimes their motivation comes by being a few down.''

The deadlock at the half seemed to supply plenty of motivation today, with the Breakers charging out of the tunnel to score the opening 12 points of the first quarter and create the first significant buffer of the game.

Corletto made a pair of triples and scored 10 straight points as their advantage quickly swelled to 16, with the home side taking more than seven minutes to make their first field goal of the period.

By the time the quarter closed, the Breakers held a 62-48 lead and only late collapse akin to Adelaide's in December could have prevented victory. These Breakers are too experienced and too savvy to allow that and cruised home in the final period to triumph by 18.

They now host Sydney at Vector Arena on Thursday in an attempt to equal their club record eight-game winning streak from 2011.

Adelaide 66 (Petrie 19, Gibson 10, Johnson 9)

Breakers 84 (Vukona 16, Corletto 15, Abercrombie 11)

HT: 38-38

- APNZ

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