Basketball: Wildcats tame Breakers

By Kris Shannon

Perth's James Ennis soars to the rim during his side's clash with the Breakers at Vector Arena tonight. Photo / Getty
Perth's James Ennis soars to the rim during his side's clash with the Breakers at Vector Arena tonight. Photo / Getty

Breakers 62
Wildcats 71

It was a Black Friday for the Breakers as they slumped to their ninth loss of the season, beaten 71-62 by Perth at Vector Arena tonight.

The defeat was the third of the campaign against their great rivals, with the Wildcats winning six of the past seven regular season meetings between the foes.

The Breakers, of course, split those losses with a sweep of Perth in the grand final earlier this year but, based in their form in the latter half of 2013, the chance of a rematch is slim.

It would be one thing for the Breakers to drop games against the 12-1 runaway leaders if they were taking caring of business against the rest of the league. But sixth place and a 4-9 record make it abundantly clear that isn't the case.

The defending champions tonight experienced a severe power outage which began with a horrid opening quarter, dealing another blow to their playoff aspirations.

But Perth guard Damian Martin was adamant that blow was far from fatal, insisting postgame the Breakers would get back to where they belong.

"Where the Breakers are sitting on the ladder isn't a true testament of how good they are,'' he said. "There's still a lot of games to be played and I'd be very surprised if they're not playing playoff basketball.''

That prospect been dented largely by the defence so far this season but it was the home side's offence which struggled tonight, shooting 37 per cent from the floor and 17 per cent from deep.

Mika Vukona was once again the best of the Breakers, contributing 16 points and seven boards. It would be hard to imagine where they would be without the power forward.

His defence helped to restrict Perth's import pairing of James Ennis and Jermaine Beal to 21, a week after combining for 61 points in their home victory over the champs, but little else went right. The Breakers lost the rebounding battle and allowed the Wildcats too many second-chance points, ceding 19 offensive boards.

"When you play the Wildcats and you don't contest or challenge them in the effort areas you end up with a result like that,'' Dean Vickerman said. "That's one of the first games this year that, for a long period of time, our effort levels were below where they needed to be.''

That deficiency was on display during a first quarter performance which would be kind to call ugly. It was a minor miracle the Breakers trailed by only 10 at the end of the period, considering they made just one of their first 16 shots.

The champs didn't take long in the second to double their points tally of eight. But with Ennis showing what he's capable of, unleashing a monster dunk over Gary Wilkinson, Perth remained 16 points to the good at halftime.

That deficit was halved early in the third as part of an 9-0 run. All of a sudden it was Perth with the putrid offence, going seven minutes without adding to their tally and allowing the Breakers back into the contest.

But the home side struggled to truly capitalise, also being held scoreless for a large stretch of the quarter. That allowed Perth to take a 13-point lead into the final period, an advantage they never threatened to squander.

Breakers 62 (Abercrombie 16, Vukona 15, Johnson 14)
Wildcats 71 (Ennis 16, Knight 15, Redhage 12)
HT: 33-49

- APNZ

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