Tom Abercrombie - The Breaker with the hot hand

By Kris Shannon

Tom Abercrombie is averaging 16.5 points in his last eight games, while he has been shooting the three-ball at 47 per cent across that span. Photo / Getty
Tom Abercrombie is averaging 16.5 points in his last eight games, while he has been shooting the three-ball at 47 per cent across that span. Photo / Getty

Tom Abercrombie's final scoring act in the semifinal series against Melbourne was unremarkable - a successful free throw in a game already won.

But that solitary point showed why the swingman could be considered the Breakers' biggest threat heading into tonight's grand final opener in Perth.

While Cedric Jackson is known for taking control at key moments and Corey Webster has spent the season scoring on almost any defence, Abercrombie has the form and familiarity to lead the Breakers to a fifth Australian NBL title.

The club's all-time leading scorer now also sits atop that list in the post-season ranks, with his final free throw against Melbourne capping a 23-point night and snapping a tie with CJ Bruton.

And, based on current form, Abercrombie's new lead in that category looks set to be significant by the end of the best-of-three decider with the Wildcats.

The 28-year-old is averaging 16.5 points in his last eight games, while he has been shooting the three-ball at 47 per cent across that span.

Such accuracy, combined with his previous repetitions in the playoffs, ensures Abercrombie will feature heavily in Perth's defensive plans.

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"He's been awesome of late," said coach Dean Vickerman. "He's wanted the basketball down the stretch and been a key guy in big moments for us. And this is a big moment."

Indeed, Abercrombie poured in 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter of the game-two victory over Melbourne, helping turn a one-point lead into a rout. His recent hot streak coincided with a period in which the Breakers were playing for their post-season lives, although, as he pointed out, that form was only a progression on what he had been doing all season.

"I'm very happy with how I'm going right now," Abercrombie said.

"I'll take a lot of confidence out of how the semifinal series went - I thought I was playing pretty good basketball. And I think I played some pretty good basketball all season. I had a couple of little patches where I wasn't going too great but got myself back into form and am now playing my best basketball at the right time of year."

His timing in becoming an even more effective weapon from beyond the arc, allied with Jackson's sudden success and Webster's consistency, has given the Breakers a deadly troika from deep.

That provides the opposition with far more problems than when the defending champions' one-dimensional offence was revolving around Webster, with the results of the approach reflected in the seven-game winning streak Perth will be tasked with halting tonight.

"The more weapons we can have from the outside, the better," Abercrombie said. "What we've done a great job of in this last part of the season is really sharing the ball well and getting it through hands. That's allowed different guys to get open looks and we've done a good job of knocking them down."

Abercrombie's ability from the outside was an area in which Vickerman felt his man could emerge on top of an intriguing battle with Perth import Casey Prather, while the Breakers' scoring supremo thought the match-up with the Wildcats as a whole was a perfect conclusion to the campaign. "If we want to be the champions, it feels only right that we go through those guys," Abercrombie said.

"They've had a really good season, they're a tough bunch of players, they play a physical kind of basketball and have some great experience there.

"So it has all the makings of a great series."

- NZ Herald

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