Basketball: Breakers sweep Leopards

By Kris Shannon

Tom Abercrombie dunks during the Breakers' preseason game against the Dongguan Leopards at Vector Arena. Photo / Getty
Tom Abercrombie dunks during the Breakers' preseason game against the Dongguan Leopards at Vector Arena. Photo / Getty

Breakers 86
Leopards 80

The Breakers concluded their preparations for the new Australian NBL campaign in fine fashion at Vector Arena tonight, completing a 3-0 series sweep over Chinese side Dongguan Leopards.

The 86-80 victory meant the Breakers wrapped up their preseason with three wins and four defeats, as the defending champions get set to begin their quest for a fourth straight title against Wollongong next Thursday.

Tonight's encounter was the first chance for 7000 fans at Vector Arena to get a glimpse of the new regime, with Dean Vickerman calling the shots from the bench and two new imports featuring heavily on the floor.

Kerron Johnson showed he will be a handful when he gets into the lane, with his hands and speed of movement too hot for the Leopards to handle, while Darnelle Lazare demonstrated he will be a real weapon off the Breakers' bench.

The power forward, who will also back up Alex Pledger in the five-spot, made a number of athletic plays at both ends of the floor, but it is on offence where he looks set to provide an upgrade over Will Hudson.

His 11 points were largely accrued close to the rim, while Johnson finished the game with 10 points and five assists.

But perhaps the best American on the court was the Leopards' Donte Greene and, after top-scoring in all three games, the Breakers will be glad to see the back of the former NBA forward.

The home side started slowly, missing their first eight field goal attempts, but still managed take a 23-16 lead into quarter-time after back-to-back triples from CJ Bruton just before the break.

Greene was a constant threat on the offensive end and he kept Dongguan in the game as the Breakers threatened to streak away in the second period. His 16 points featured physicality from close to the rim and flair from outside, but he couldn't prevent the home side from leading 51-40 at the half.

The third quarter saw the Breakers begin to negate Greene's impact and, perhaps unsurprisingly, their advantage grew to 15 points heading into the final 10 minutes. Reuben Te Rangi impressed off the bench for the Breakers in the period, with the 18-year-old illustrating his explosiveness when driving to the hoop.

Despite his dominance, Dongguan actually made their best run when Greene was on the bench, perhaps indicative of his bedding into a new system. The visitors pulled within four in the final quarter but that was as close as they got as the Breakers closed it out.

Breakers 86 (Vukona 12, Abercrombie 11, Bruton 11)
Leopards 80 (Greene 20, Gu 17, Meng 10)
HT: 51-40


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