Jackson’s encouragement of his out-of-sorts team-mates helped the Breakers finish with a late flourish against the Hawks.

After missing 18 of their 19 shots in the third quarter of Friday's win over Wollongong, the Breakers would have been forgiven for being gun shy in the fourth.

They had, after all, allowed a big lead to slip and headed into the final period on level terms with the league's last-placed side.

But Cedric Jackson was anything but restrained when he found the ball in his hands after a minute, draining a three-pointer to set the tone. And the former MVP repeated the feat a minute later, single-handedly giving the Breakers an advantage they wouldn't relinquish.

In scoring his side's first seven points of the decisive quarter, Jackson not only demonstrated his status as one of the competition's premier closers but practised what he had preached when his shell-shocked team-mates trudged off the court after a nightmarish 10 minutes.


"Ced came in [after the third] and said, 'let's just go and have some fun'," revealed Breakers coach Dean Vickerman. "That changed people's mindsets a little bit. We came out a little bit looser and made some shots."

After the entire team totalled three points in the third quarter, Jackson added 11 on his own in the fourth as the Breakers raced away from Wollongong to advance to 7-3 on the season.

He played like the on-court general the Kiwi club were lacking last year - leading by example and lifting the spirits of those around him.

"When you start missing a lot of shots, a lot of guys get down on themselves," Jackson said. "But that's the name of the game sometimes. You've just got to relax and just have some fun."

Easier said than done when a team makes just one field goal in a period. But Jackson knew the Breakers could trust their defence to get them going.

"You just have to rely on your defence - that's what we pride ourselves on," he said. "We're going to have times when things don't go our way and we just have to rely on our defence to get us good shots.

"We were satisfied with our shot selection - they just didn't drop. So we didn't hang our heads low, we just stayed focused and got out of that slump."

It was a slump that might have enveloped a Breakers side shorn of Jackson.


The final margin was 16 once the Breakers clipped the Hawks' wings but, before the fourth, it looked like the type of game the then-defending champions last season struggled to put away.

After winning all 11 games decided by 10 points or fewer in Jackson's last year in Auckland, the Breakers fell to 6-11 in such encounters under rookie point guard Kerron Johnson.

This year, in a small sample size, that record is back to a healthy 4-2, with Jackson imbuing in his team-mates a confidence that carries them over the line.

That has certainly appeared true in the opening month, with the Breakers emerging from a packed schedule in salubrious shape.

The next three weeks may be more manageable, with only one game a weekend against mid-table sides Melbourne (home) and Sydney (home and away), before the visit of rivals Perth.

Jackson thought the relatively light workload would give the team a chance to get healthier, given he, along with Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger, is one of three starters dealing with health issues, playing through the pain of an injured shooting elbow.

Along with the recovery time, the next few weeks will allow individuals the chance to fine-tune their skills, an area that was neglected during the hectic first month. And Jackson believes, with the extra work, the Breakers will continue to improve, a prospect made all the more likely by his presence.

"We're still working on our chemistry," he said. "And it's just going to keep getting better and better as we work our way down to the end of the season."