The SKYCITY Breakers won a thriller in Hawkes Bay today, edging Australian National Basketball League favourites Melbourne United 88-86 in front of a passionate crowd at Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale.

Both teams played like it was the post-season, rather than just under three weeks out from the start of the new campaign, with an intensity that typifies the growing rivalry between the two teams, but it was the Breakers who won the day on the back of a 33-point final quarter.

Dominican point guard Edgar Sosa led the way, with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, making 4 of 7 three-point attempts in the process. He received great support from Finn Delany (13 points and 5 rebounds), Shea Ili (14 points, 3 assists, 2 steals), and Alex Pledger (11 points, 8 rebounds).

Head Coach Paul Henare reflected on a game that had everything, with both teams going hard at each other throughout.

"I liked the competitive nature of the game, I thought both teams were getting after it and pushing. There was definitely some rustiness and possessions where teams werent connecting, but that is to be expected at this stage of the year."

Henare was not concerned so much about the result at this stage of the year, but was pleased with how his team coped with what Melbourne threw at them, especially with Mika Vukona not joining the team until their trip to New Plymouth tomorrow.

"We played some small ball with Tommy at the four with Mika not being here, we tinkered with the lineup and played Robbie and Pledge together as well for a few minutes. That is what this time of year is about, figuring out how we can play together as a group and I think for the most part we did a decent job."

Henare felt his team let their grip on the game loosen in the final moments, with a comfortable lead cut into by Melbourne in the final 90 seconds.

"We should have had the game locked up earlier, but Casper Ware came out sprinting downhill and Casey Prather made a tough three, they hung around a lot longer than we would have liked, but still we were able to close the game out and get the result. But you need to learn from those experiences as well.

"I thought we did a good job of not being too one dimensional, putting different guys into the same actions created some different looks. I thought we made progress today but the best thing is there are still things to work on. Melbourne got themselves in the game and shot a decent clip after the first quarter, we will take a look at our defence and see what allowed them to do that. But for us it is not about results, it is about the process of continuing to get better."

The win was achieved on the back of a quiet night for Kirk Penney and Tom Abercrombie, with both playing limited minutes after getting in early foul trouble. But others stepped up big time, with Delany impressing with his inside outside game, and Pledgers contribution coming on the back of a disrupted preparation after only arriving in Napier a couple of hours before tip-off.

The two teams will renew the rivalry in game two of the series in New Plymouth on Tuesday night, and if the game today is anything to go by, fans in the Taranaki region would be well advised to get their tickets for an entertaining and competitive game between two quality teams.

SKYCITY Breakers 88 (Sosa 21, Ili 14, Delany 13, Pledger 11)

Melbourne United 86 (Goulding 18, Prather 16, Ware 14, Wesley 13)

BOX SCORE here

Game two, New Plymouth

SKYCITY Breakers v Melbourne United

Tuesday 19 September

New Plymouth

TSB Stadium

7pm tip off

Tickets: Adult $30, Child (11 & under) $15, Family (2 adults 2 children) $80, Student $20 (+ service fees).

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand