Basketball: Breakers crash in double-OT

By Kris Shannon

Tom Abercrombie takes one to the rim against the Hawks. Photo / photosport.nz
Tom Abercrombie takes one to the rim against the Hawks. Photo / photosport.nz

Breakers 96
Hawks 103

A trio of hammerings would have hurt but nowhere near as much as this one.

The Breakers fell further into their slump with an agonising double-overtime loss against the Hawks tonight, collapsing in the fourth quarter to squander what had seemed a certain victory.

Leading by 11 midway through the final period, the Breakers looked set to enjoy some payback having suffered three heavy defeat at the hands of the Hawks this season.

But after going five minutes without scoring at the worst possible time, disaster struck. So often one of the club's heroes, Mika Vukona played villain by missing a pair of crucial free throws and was left to watch in horror as Cody Ellis' clutch triple locked the scores with two seconds left.

And, in the second period of overtime, Kevin Lisch scored 10 of his 40 points as the defending champs dug themselves deeper into a worrying hole.

According to coach Dean Vickerman, it was a hole of their own making. While Vukona could have iced it, Vickerman was more upset with his players allowing Illawarra to make a shot, when sending them to the foul line would have protected the Breakers' narrow lead.

"We struggle as a coaching staff to get past the last 10 seconds of regulation," Vickerman said. "We broke a team rule. We had so many opportunities to foul and that's what we do in that situation. We didn't and we paid the price for it."

The Breakers (11-10) have now lost four straight and, after suffering their most painful defeat, slipped out of the playoff places. How the fifth-placed club react to this loss in the last month of the season will determine whether they earn the chance to defend their crown in late-February.

On one hand, for 35 minutes, it was an impressive performance, rectifying everything that went so wrong in Illawarra on Thursday night. On the other, the final 15 minutes were a train wreck.

Having been swept by the Hawks franchise for the first time since the second year of their existence, the Breakers will have to quickly banish those bad memories ahead of next week's Sunshine Swing. Two victories on the road appear imperative but are far from guaranteed, given the Breakers are 3-7 across the Tasman this season.

"Mentally, it will take a couple of days to get over it but we have to, " Vickerman said. "We have no choice and we really have to be good on this road trip."

Whatever happens in North Queensland, it can't possibly be as ignominious as what transpired today. The Breakers had started with the requisite energy needed to halt the Hawks' high-powered offence, with the bench on their feet after almost every point.

The home side crushed their opposition in the rebounding count, shared the ball with much more effectiveness and even restricted nemesis Kirk Penney to just 14 points.

But, in the end, it was all for nought. Webster's team-high 22 counted for nothing, as did Cedric Jackson's influential 18 and Charles Jackson's double-double of 11 points and 18 boards.

The Breakers were left to trudge off the court in a rapidly-emptying Vector Arena and are still without a win in 2016.

Breakers 96 (Webster 22, Jackson 18, Abercrombie 12)
Hawks 103 (Lisch 40, Ellis 18, Ogilvy 15)
HT: 53-48
FT: 80-80

- NZ Herald

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