Basketball: Breakers drop fourth straight

By Kris Shannon

Reuben Te Rangi scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Breakers but their comeback fell short against Adelaide. Photo / Getty
Reuben Te Rangi scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Breakers but their comeback fell short against Adelaide. Photo / Getty

Breakers 93
36ers 96

It may sound like pandering after their record dropped to 1-4 but this was one hell of a defeat for the Breakers.

The defending champions' horror start to the season continued on Halloween night, falling to the Adelaide 36ers for the first time in 16 games.

But the Breakers will take - and indeed deserve - a significant amount of credit for the way they turned things around at the North Shore Events Centre.

Twenty-two points behind in the third quarter after an awful first half was compounded by Mika Vukona's ejection and Tom Abercrombie's foul trouble, the home side roared back to snatch a fourth-quarter lead.

But they were denied a fairy-tale comeback by a gutsy 36ers side who rode the wave and, somehow, came out unscathed.

"To get down 22 and find a way to have a chance to win it is probably the most pleasing part of the game,'' coach Dean Vickerman said. "The fight that we showed in that second half - there was enough belief that we could win.''

The result seemed like a done deal after Vukona was sent packing, caught in a confrontation with former Breaker BJ Anthony and, in what seemed like a monumental overreaction, tossed from the game.

But 19-year-old Reuben Te Rangi put the Breakers on his back and scored a career-high 22 points - 14 of which were in the third - to help his side almost pull off the unthinkable.

"With Tommy having some foul trouble again, it gave Reuben an opportunity to show what he's capable of in this league and he was outstanding, stepping up like that,'' Vickerman said.

Gary Wilkinson's return was almost an after-thought, starting on the bench as a bad opening for the Breakers was marred by missed shots, poor handling and miscommunication. Things soon got worse as Adelaide led by as many as 16 in the period and, despite pulling within 10 after Abercrombie converted Kerron Johnson's lob pass, 30 points were too many for the Breakers to cede.

Adelaide's lead remained in double digits throughout much of the second and the likelihood of the Breakers bridging that gap took a hit towards the end of the period in an incident sparked by a hard foul from Vukona.

Anthony took exception and was the chief aggressor but Vukona was equally volatile. The referees conferred twice and, given the option of tossing both or granting a reprieve, they opted for a pair of ejections.

The foul trouble continued in the third as Abercrombie picked up his fourth moments after the game resumed, while a rapid 8-0 run from Adelaide saw their advantage hit a game-high 22 points.

But the Breakers refused to buckle and, courtesy of three triples from Te Rangi, went on an 11-2 tear of their own to get back into the game. Te Rangi stayed hot and so did the his team, drawing within five heading into the final period.

The momentum was well and truly with the home side and the Breakers continued their charge in the fourth to finally seized their first lead thanks to - who else - Te Rangi.

But his heroics were in vain as Adelaide held their nerve and held their lead, with the Breakers unable to get away a decent attempt to tie the game on the buzzer.

Breakers 93 (Te Rangi 22, Johnson 17, Pledger 16)
36ers 96 (Ervin 22, Frye 18, Gibson 15)
HT: 37-51

- APNZ

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