Basketball: Breakers bitten by Crocs

By Kris Shannon

Daryl Corletto scored 11 points as the Breakers fell 94-84 to the Townsville Crocs last night. Photo / Getty
Daryl Corletto scored 11 points as the Breakers fell 94-84 to the Townsville Crocs last night. Photo / Getty

Crocs 94
Breakers 84

It took only a fortnight for the Breakers to hit their first speed bump but Dean Vickerman will be far from concerned.

No Breakers coach has ever began his career with two straight wins and Vickerman followed that trend after his side were downed by the Crocs in Townsville tonight.

Despite the Crocs' lowly status last season, and ignoring the Breakers' usual fixation on perfection, the defeat was hardly a major concern.

But, at the same time, it was less than welcome from a side which prided themselves on putting away teams deemed inferior. The Crocs certainly fitted that bill, finishing last season with a 10-18 record, but the Breakers failed to shake them off tonight.

It was the defending champions' first loss in Townsville since 2009, and it was one which consigned the Breakers to a 1-1 record after the season-opening victory over Wollongong. Point guard Kerron Johnson led the way with 21 points on nine-of-11 shooting, while Alex Pledger added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Not aiding the Breakers' cause was the absence of CJ Bruton, who missed the flight after being laid low with a virus, but the champs would have still been confident of emerging with a win. While they managed to shoot well for the most of the contest, the Breakers ceded a serious advantage in turnovers and assists, allowing the underrated Crocs to attack when least expected.

They may have finished second-bottom last season, and their imports may have come from the New Zealand NBL, but the Crocs managed a short-handed Breakers staff without too many problems.

The Kiwi club were hardly helped by foul trouble beget from the new rules, with Mika Vukona fouling out for a second game in a row, but that was no excuse as the final whistle blew.

Things began better for the Breakers, with Tom Abercrombie opening the scoring and following with an athletics block. But the visitors hardly had things their own way in the opening quarter, giving up five turnovers to allow the Crocs to stay in touch.

Led by Pledger's athletic quarter, the Breakers were dominating the rebounding battle. But with Daryl Corletto's radar misfiring - going 0-3 from deep - the Crocs led by one at the end of the period.

As to be expected in the early season games, both teams ran into foul trouble early in the second, a situation Corey Webster took advantage of by repeatedly attacking the hoop.

It was the guard's play on outside the key, however, which saw the Breakers edge ahead in the second, with a triple followed by a timely steal. The lead continued to change hands in the dying minutes but, as the clock wound down, Johnson drained one from inside his own half to end it and give his side a two-point advantage.

Townsville, though, continued to hang in touch with the Breakers, generating 18 assists compared to the Breakers' four. Also detracting from the visitors' cause were 12 turnovers, helping the Crocs to take a 68-62 lead heading to the fourth.

The Breakers continued to lack rhythm in the fourth and, when Johnson joined Vukona in fouling out, they allowed last season's stragglers to take the spoils.

Crocs 94 (Blanchfield 23, Pace 22, Conklin 18)
Breakers 84 (Johnson 21, Pledger 15, Abercrombie 14)
HT: 47-49

- APNZ

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