Basketball: Abercrombie leads revival by Breakers

By Kris Shannon

Miracle push for the NBL playoffs starts with fighting victory over Crocs.

Tom Abercrombie, right, sparked a revival and helped his side to victory on the North Shore last night. Photo / Getty Images
Tom Abercrombie, right, sparked a revival and helped his side to victory on the North Shore last night. Photo / Getty Images

They did it the hard way but that was only appropriate as the Breakers began their miracle push for the playoffs.

The defending champions threatened to flatline for much of their clash with the Crocs before Tom Abercrombie sparked a revival and helped his side to victory on the North Shore last night.

Abercrombie kept the Breakers in the contest after they trailed from the opening minutes, returning late in the game to land the dagger blows and finish with a season-high 29 points.

He shot 12-of-19 from the floor and, on his home patch, provided exactly the performance the Breakers desperately required.

Perhaps his teammates knew it was coming, with the players full of the belief this week that they remained a chance of grabbing an unlikely playoff spot.

Four wins are needed from their final four games and they will be seriously tested in Cairns tomorrow. A triumph there would set up a tantalising prospect of three games at home to get into the finals series.

The odds remain against them - the Breakers' best winning streak this season sits at just two - and consistency is only one obstacle.

Melbourne (12-11) and Sydney (11-11) will be among the visitors and, desperate to hang on to their own playoff berths, it will be far from easy for the Breakers (10-14).

But if they can put it together like they did last night, the champions will present a formidable opponent over the final run home. Mika Vukona provided able support for Abercrombie's heroics, grabbing a season high of his own to finish with 20 points and six rebounds.

And CJ Bruton, in the final stretch of his career in New Zealand, became the second player behind Kirk Penney to bring up 2000 points for the Breakers, ensuring his place in the club's history.

After allowing Townsville some easy baskets early on, the Breakers quickly slipped behind in the opening quarter and were down by five at the first timeout.

Abercrombie set about amending that situation, grabbing 10 points in 10 minutes and spectacularly jumping over Jacob Holmes to slam home a lob pass from Kerron Johnson.

His output meant the gap never grew greater than two possessions but Townsville began to gradually pull away in the second.

The Crocs' advantage stood at double figures midway through the period, leaving it to Abercrombie to ensure his side remained close.

Another six points to his personal tally saw the Breakers close in on a halftime lead, before back-to-back turnovers late in the quarter let the Crocs retain their edge.

The visitors took a 50-45 lead into the major break and their superior shooting once again dug a hole for their opponents. Steadily chipping away at the 10-point deficit, the Breakers looked like they were turning the tide but ended the third exactly where they started.

A 13-3 run arrived at the perfect time and a triple from Abercrombie handed his side their first lead since the opening quarter. Townsville refused to go quietly and pulled within three late, only for Steve Markovic's buzzer-beating three to bounce in and out.

Breakers-102
Townsville-99

- APNZ

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