When the New Zealand Breakers met the Sydney Kings on Sunday, something had to give.
The NBL's worst defensive team in the Breakers came up against the competition's worst offensive team in Sydney, and it was the New Zealand side who came up trumps, grinding out an 82-75 win.
They didn't lead in the first three quarters of the game, and only hit the front with three minutes remaining in the fourth. But it doesn't matter how the wins come, just as long as they do.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Breakers. The game against Sydney was just their second of the season, but both have come in their last four games, suggesting they may have turned a corner.
Throughout the season, the Breakers have struggled rebounding; a lack of size being exploited and the side not showing enough effort to compensate.
Against Sydney, the former stayed the same, but the latter changed. The Breakers were putting in a lot of effort on the defensive end when shots were up, and often got the tip on rebounds and loose balls. But their efforts didn't pay off in the first quarter, losing 50/50 balls as the Kings took advantage of extra possessions to win the rebounding battle 14-3 and take a 24-17 lead.
Early on, import Jeremiah Martin was important for the Breakers. The versatile wing seems to have found his place with the team and it has started to show as he scored 12 of the team's first 30 points.
The rebounding discrepancy continued to tell the tale of the game though. Both sides struggled to score in the first half, but with the Kings outrebounding the Breakers 26-12 in the first half, they managed to take a 34-30 lead at halftime.
Throughout the season, the Breakers have been prone to a second-half meltdown, and at times they looked as though they would let the game get away from them. But it soon became apparent that veteran Finn Delany was not going to let that happen.
It hasn't been a great start to the season for Delany, but his presence, energy and desire was crucial against Sydney – as were his 21 points – on 50 per cent shooting - and nine rebounds.
The Kings looked inside for their points, with big man Xavier Cooks feasting down low before they ran their offensive sets through whoever was matched up with Breakers' 'Next Star' recruit Ousmane Dieng, whose lack of strength has been exploited by the grown men in the league.
Breakers coach Dan Shamir was quick to pull the young Frenchman back out of the game after a few possessions in which the Kings scored easily on him, and that simple decision put a spanner in the works of the Kings' offence. In the final five minutes of the game, the Kings did not score a field goal.
The Breakers finished on an 18-1 run, with five players scoring in double figures to notch their second win of the season.
NZ Breakers 82 (Jeremiah Martin 22 points, Finn Delany 21)
Sydney Kings 75 (Xavier Cooks 19 points, Dejan Vasiljevic 13)
1Q: 17-24. HT: 30-34. 3Q: 52-57.