The SKYCITY Breakers lost their third straight game at the Australian Basketball Challenge in Brisbane on Monday going down 103-89 against the Adelaide 36'ers. Once again a high rate of turnovers (26) proved their undoing after a promising first half.
For the third consecutive game the SKYCITY Breakers were missing the services of the injured guard trio of Kirk Penney, Shea Ili and Corey Webster and to add to their woes new import Ben Woodside was also unable to suit up. His absence caused a shuffle of the starting group with Mika Vukona, Alex Pledger, Tom Abercrombie, Finn Delany and Isaih Tueta taking the floor at the start.
Delany opened the scoring for the Breakers and soon after tied the scores at 7 points apiece with another dunk for the tournament highlights reel.
A couple of turnovers contributed to an 8-0 Adelaide run forcing Paul Henare to call a timeout. Abercrombie responded with a three but despite late baskets in the period from Tueta and Derone Raukawa the SKYCITY Breakers trailed 29-25 after an entertaining first quarter.
Five straight points from Rob Loe took the SKYCITY Breakers to a 30-29 lead extended further when Abercrombie landed a couple of trademark threes to push the advantage to 38-31.
Another triple, this time from Tueta, maintained the momentum and when Vukona converted on a drive the advantage was in double digits, 50-40. The best half of the pre-season from the SKYCITY Breakers ended with them ahead 55-45 on the back of 17 points from guard Tueta and 15 points from swingman Abercrombie.
Nine straight points from Adelaide in the opening 75 seconds of the third period prompted Henare to call a halt to proceedings with an early timeout.
Pledger scored from the elbow to get the scoreboard moving again but Adelaide were on a roll and regained the lead, 58-57, with over five minutes to play in the third. The 36'ers put together a brilliant quarter outscoring the SKYCITY Breakers 32-12 to carry a 77-67 lead into the final ten minutes.
Rather than chase the win coach Henare opted to rest his senior players in the final quarter. Instead he opted to give extended court time to the younger members of the Breakers lineup, Tueta, Delany, Jordan Ngatai and Ethan Rusbatch all profiting from valuable court time.
Tueta led the Breakers scoring with 22 points plus 5 assists, Abercrombie (15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals) also made a strong showing as did Delany (12 points, 6 rebounds) and Raukawa (10 points). Alex Pledger (9 points) is still searching for his best shooting touch be he demonstrated he is one of the premier rebounders in the NBL with 13 boards.
Akil Mitchell, winner of the ABC Slam Dunk competition the previous day, had a quiet outing fouling out after 17 minutes of action with 6 points and 5 rebounds to his credit.
The results were far from ideal but the tournament allowed the coaching staff to give valuable playing time to a number of the less experienced members of the squad. Delany was one to catch the eye, the NBL commentary team describing the young forward from Nelson, "One of the stories of the tournament."He certainly impressed averaging 9.3 points and 5 rebounds per outing as well as showcasing his jumping ability with some emphatic dunks.
The SKYCITY Breakers will fly out of Brisbane on Monday night and head home to prepare for their NBL opening round clash with Melbourne United at Vector Arena on October 7th.
SKYCITY Breakers 89 - Tueta 22/5 assists, Abercrombie 15/4 rebounds/4 steals, Delany 12/6 rebounds, Raukawa 10, Pledger 9/13 rebounds, Mitchell 6/5 rebounds, Rusbatch 6, Loe 5, Vukona 2/6 rebounds, Ngatai 2.
Adelaide 36ers 103 - Daniel Johnson 18, Brendan Teys 17, Jerome Randall 16
The official NBL pre season tournament featured all eight NBL clubs plus Chinese teams Zhejiang CB Golden Bulls and Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions.
First home game
V Melbourne United
Tip off 7:30