A career-high 23 points from Tom Abercrombie and a welcome return to form from Oscar Forman helped the Breakers to a hard-fought victory over league leaders Perth on the North Shore last night.
The result overturned a 20-point defeat against the same opponent in Perth on Sunday and levelled their season record at 5-5.
With their next two matches on the road it was a vital win for the Breakers, following consecutive defeats by Gold Coast and the Wildcats.
It was also an important statement following this week's cutting of import Awvee Storey and the recruitment of Australian veteran John Rillie.
The 38-year-old Rillie had been expected to boost the side's three-point shooting but, while he did knock down one long bomb, the major improvement in that area came from Forman.
"Mate, you have no idea," Forman said when asked if he was relieved to have finally broken out of his offensive slump.
"I don't try to base everything on shooting and my offence, and I was happy that defensively I was more solid. When you are not getting beaten and feeling like I am useless at the defensive end then you are in a better mindset and they drop."
The Wildcats made a strong start, with Stephen Weigh and Damien Martin knocking down threes as the visitors coasted to an 8-3 lead. But after that, the first quarter was all the Breakers', a 24-4 run taking the hosts to a 14-point lead at the break.
A Forman three to start the second quarter stretched the lead to 17, but the Wildcats came back strongly to cut the deficit to just six by halftime.
But with Abercrombie, who connected with 9/16 field goals for a career-high 23 points, keeping the attack steadily ticking along the Breakers were never headed.
Shawn Redhage was the major threat, but he was largely looked after, despite posting an 18-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Games between these two sides are typically spiky affairs and last night was no different. Redhage was lucky to get away with a string of off-the-ball elbows, but the Breakers largely matched the Wildcats' aggression, an approach that certainly paid off.
"We are still missing Kirk [Penney] but being aggressive is going to go some way to making up the difference," Forman said.
"We have been too nice the last two games. No one has been cracking anyone on rebounds and in Perth they ran over us. So we came out with an aggressive mindset and look what happens."
Rick Rickert chipped in with 12 points despite getting in early foul trouble, CJ Bruton had 10, while Dillon Boucher capped a towering defensive display with seven assists and eight rebounds.
Rillie managed just the one basket in 13 minutes of court time, but did pick up five rebounds on his debut.
The result lifts the Breakers into a tie for fourth with Townsville, who they meet next Wednesday, while a first defeat in six matches sees the Wildcats slip off top spot, replaced by 7-3 Wollongong.
Breakers: Thomas Abercrombie 23, Oscar Forman 18, Rick Rickert 12
Perth Wildcats: Shawn Redhage 18, Stephen Weigh 15, Luke Schenscher 13.