Basketball: Breakers aim to win first, then do the maths

By Kris Shannon

Breakers star Cedric Jackson isn't thinking about winning margins just yet. Photo / Getty Images
Breakers star Cedric Jackson isn't thinking about winning margins just yet. Photo / Getty Images

It's a good thing the Breakers have regained a sliver of self-confidence - they're going to need it.

Friday's edgy 77-74 win over the Townsville Crocs saw the defending champions continue to hold on to hope of retaining their crown, though the victory was only one step on a path full of potential pitfalls.

The first of those will present itself on Wednesday, when the Breakers travel to Adelaide for a season-defining clash with the 36ers.

Not only does that game carry must-win status, coach Dean Vickerman's men must win well. With fourth-placed Adelaide representing the carrot the Breakers are chasing, the Kiwi club could end the regular season locked alongside the 36ers in the final playoff spot.

If that scenario becomes reality, the tie-breaker will be the season series between the teams. Adelaide hold a 2-1 edge ahead of Wednesday's final meeting and, if the Breakers level the ledger, points differential may prove crucial.

Unfortunately for the champions' playoff chances, Adelaide possess a +15 advantage in that category, leaving the Breakers needing to chase the game. But point guard Cedric Jackson insisted his side would banish that need to the back of their minds.

"It's just about getting the win first and letting everything play out," Jackson said. "We won't put too much pressure on ourselves in trying to get the points spread or anything like that. Whatever happens, happens. We'll just keep on playing the way we know how to."

That approach was evident in Friday's win, a victory that snapped a six-game losing streak. The Breakers defended resolutely and were led by an outstanding outing from Tom Abercrombie on offence, receiving influential contributions from almost all their key men.

They again threatened to seize defeat from the jaws of victory but will be better for emerging from a tight tussle with a positive result.

"It was a great lesson for us on how to execute, just in case things happen again they way they did," Jackson said. "If it does happen again, we'll know how to handle ourselves, so we're mentally preparing for the [Adelaide] game already. There's still more work to be done. We really need to do a good job to recover and then try to play another great game of basketball on the road against a really hot team right now."

Adelaide's six-game winning streak was stopped by the Hawks earlier in the week but the 36ers bounced back with an impressive 104-90 victory over Illawarra last night, further underlining the challenge the Breakers face in three days. Adelaide's record is now 14-10, with the Breakers 12-12.

Last night's result means defeat in Adelaide would end the Breakers' playoff hopes and the defence of their title. They have emerged triumphant from only three of their 12 trips across the Tasman this season and, with those wins coming against the bottom two sides, Vickerman was aiming for a timely first.

"We're 12-12 and we've got four to go," the coach said.

"It's two at home and two on the road, and one of the things we haven't been able to do this year is beat a really good team on the road.

"If we want to make the finals, we're going to have to do that. So it's a great test for us right now."

- Herald on Sunday

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