After appearing dead and buried three weeks ago, the Breakers' dream of a fifth championship is still alive.
The defending champions have clinched an unlikely post-season berth after dispatching table-topping Melbourne at the NSEC and watching Adelaide fall to Illawarra later in the evening.
While they did receive a helping hand from the Hawks, it would be erroneous to suggest the Breakers are unworthy of a playoff place. Having lost six straight to slump outside the top four, coach Dean Vickerman spurred his side on a four-game winning streak to ensure his tenure at the club would finish in the finals.
"We dug a pretty deep hole for ourselves," Vickerman said. "But it's a credit to the group that we were able to get out of it. We were able to scratch out of it and put ourselves in a situation where we have an opportunity to win a championship."
The late surge was capped with a comprehensive victory over Melbourne, the same side the Breakers will now meet in the semifinals. The win did come with a caveat after the minor premiers left three starters at home but, considering the way they were eviscerated, it's hard to say how much those reinforcements would have helped.
The Breakers tonight doubled up their opponents on the boards (46-21) and shared the ball well to gather 16 assists, but it was their shooting that set them apart. The home side hovered well clear of 50 per cent from the floor throughout the game, as effective from deep as they were while driving to the hoop.
Key contributions came from all over the court, with most players picking a different time to shine. Tom Abercrombie's 12 first-half points enabled the Breakers to jump ahead by 19 at the major break, with the swingman finishing on 14 in limited minutes with the game sealed.
Corey Webster (17 points) also excelled in the opening half, forming with Cedric Jackson a lethal back-court combination that took turns setting each other up and finishing with aplomb. Jackson also finished the game with 17 while namesake Charles grabbed another double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
After being unlucky to only split the sides' first two meetings, tonight's thrashing means the Breakers must have the wood over Melbourne heading into the semifinals. But with their opponents set to enjoy home advantage, Abercrombie was wary of reading too much into the season series.
"We've done a good job so far against them," he said. "But they're a team who can get hot pretty quickly, and [in Melbourne] they're a different animal."
Breakers 100 (Charles Jackson 18, Cedric Jackson 17, Corey Webster 17)
Melbourne 63 (Kyle Adnam 16, Chris Patton 9, Brad Hill 8).