Basketball: Frank helps Breakers to big win

By Kris Shannon

Mika Vukona grabbed a huge double-double as the Breakers beat the Tigers in Melbourne tonight. Photo / Getty
Mika Vukona grabbed a huge double-double as the Breakers beat the Tigers in Melbourne tonight. Photo / Getty

Tigers 87
Breakers 93

The Breakers tonight turned to a player from their past to help rediscover their championship form, scratching out an invaluable victory over the Melbourne Tigers.

Casey Frank may have belonged to a different breed of Breakers - one familiar with the perilous position in which the club currently sits - but his inclusion sparked his side to a triumph reminiscent of their recent title-winning campaigns.

Melbourne came into the contest as the hottest team in the competition, with six straight victories lifting them into third spot on the ladder. And the Tigers played like a playoff team, enjoying important contributions from their key players to sit in prime position to secure the victory.

But the Breakers refused to bow to the home crowd and shook off the stretch woes they've exhibited for much of the season, grabbing their sixth win of a troubled campaign.

That win total is significant. For all their struggles, the defending champions currently have as many victories as Cairns, the team in the fourth and final playoff place.

While it would be both reductive and incorrect to attribute the result entirely to Frank, there is no doubting his impact. Stepping from the commentary table to the playing floor, the Tall Black never looked out of place, displaying a level of energy the Breakers desperately needed.

He finished with nine points but, more importantly, gave the Breakers size and effort at both ends, being knocked to the floor while laying up one minute before taking a charge the next. He also, as promised, fouled out.

Mika Vukona must have appreciated being aided in the `mongrel' category, finishing with three fouls of his own and reaping the rewards with a huge double-double of 17 points and 15 boards.

Tom Abercrombie led the Breakers with 21, while Daryl Corletto (15), Kerron Johnson (14) and Gary Wilkinson (10) ensured each member of the starting five finished with double figures.

Frank began things for the Breakers in the best possible fashion, checking into the game midway through the quarter and promptly draining a three for his first points for the club since 2004.

With a one-point lead heading into the second, the Breakers remained hot from beyond the arc in making five of their first six. But Melbourne were shooting the ball equally well and took a 47-43 lead at the major break.

That advantage grew as large as 10 early in the second half before an 8-0 run from the Breakers closed the gap, with athletic plays from Abercrombie and a long three from CJ Bruton paving the way. It all sounded like the Breakers of old but that notion was to be put to the test in the final period, with the champs starting two points in arrears.

That two-point deficit soon became a seven-point lead as the Breakers really did display vintage form at both ends of the floor. Melbourne responded with a 5-0 run and the result remained in doubt with a minute to play, until Abercrombie drained a dagger three to all but seal it.

Tigers 87 (Wothington 23, Farrakhan 18, Goulding 23)
Breakers 93 (Abercrombie 21, Vukona 17, Corletto 15)
HT: 47-43

- APNZ

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