Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis' assessment of Thursday night's first match in the best-of-three NBL Grand Final contest was right on the button: "It was a hell of a game," he said after the match, which his team won 104-98 after it was all tied up at the end of normal time.

No one in the crowd of 9125 would have disagreed. It was a display of massive courage and character: to be 11-0 down after the first few minutes and then score 22 of the next 26 points takes a special kind of true grit and the Breakers have that in spades.

The team's loyal devotees will say there is nothing new about it, but basketball is suddenly sexy. The Breakers' crowds have been steadily rising, game on game; Vector Arena - which has proved acoustically problematic for live music - is a fabulous basketball venue that allows people to watch the game in salubrious surroundings; and basketball, in keeping with its American origins, turns on a thrilling entertainment, full of noise and spectacle.

Better still, the defending champions have become a tight-knit group of proven performers whose success has moved way beyond being a winning streak. In that, they stand out among other teams in other codes that traditionally command sports fans' attention.


After a largely miserable summer of cricket, we are moving into winter with little to cheer about. The Warriors continue on their seesaw ride, which so often seems to be more saw than see and the Blues are such an embarrassment that Chiefs supporters have been sending blue-painted cowbells to their mates in Auckland.

This kind of action is hard to stomach for sports followers who want to spend their leisure time - not to mention their disposable income - savouring triumphs, rather than lamenting failures.

In flying high, the Breakers have given wings to their sport. No wonder everybody is keen to share the excitement with them. There's a school of thought that says a loss in Perth next week would be no bad thing because it would allow them to take out the final at home (and keep a healthy gate take into the bargain). Either way, go the Breakers.