Taipans 71
Breakers 86

The Breakers will take the court tomorrow with a chance to claim a fourth championship and, based on current form, it's difficult to envisage any other outcome.

The Breakers last night wrote the latest chapter in an ever-increasing book of playoff successes, continuing a seemingly unstoppable tear with a 15-point win over Cairns in game one of the grand final series.

A fourth straight post-season series sweep awaits tomorrow on the North Shore and, if it arrives, the Kiwi club will be able to raise a fourth Australian NBL championship banner in five years.


That outcome looked entirely deserved during a dominant evening in Cairns, with the Breakers producing a remarkable offensive outburst in the first half and displaying the requisite composure to fend off a fightback late in the game.

Just once in 31 previous best-of-three series had the team without home advantage triumphed, but the Breakers easily removed home court from the equation. And now the numbers are on their side - 21 of the last 23 series were won by the team who took game one.

Past history aside, if the Breakers play anywhere near the levels at which they have performed in the last week, there will be only one victor. Adelaide were swept aside with authority in the semifinals and a similar result now looks likely.

The Breakers' playoff experience again proved vital, surviving a horror third quarter which saw a 16-point lead all but disappear. The teams went into the final period separated by just a point but veteran guard Rhys Carter emerged an unlikely hero, draining 10 quick points to decide the game.

Mika Vukona was unsurprisingly influential and it was no coincidence Cairns' comeback came when he had to take a seat due to foul trouble. The captain's contributions weren't easy to spot in the box score but it was his example that again saw the Breakers begin with a level of intensity the Taipans failed to match.

Cedric Jackson enjoyed his best game of the playoffs a few days after finishing second in the MVP race, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists. And fellow import Ekene Ibekwe proved once more what an inspiring signing he was, grabbing 19 points and eight rebounds.

Ibekwe was eight-of-10 from the floor as the Breakers shot 52 per cent for the game, a mark that was built with the unerring accuracy they showed to begin the game. Another post-season romp appeared in store as the visitors took a 15-point lead to the major break, displaying a speed in transition that allowed Jackson to drive to the hoop with ease and finish with aplomb.

But when Vukona was forced out in the third, Cairns came up with a huge quarter to take a 26-11 advantage and pull within a point. After missing their first nine attempts from deep, the Taipans made four of the following five and, to compound the issue, the Breakers' shots suddenly stopped falling.


But the Breakers, facing their first real battle in these playoffs, never panicked and Carter's success at one end was matched with a morale-boosting block from Reuben Te Rangi at the other, extending the lead to a much more comfortable level.

The Breakers were able to close out the game and must now be favourites to close out the series.

Taipans 71 (Wilbekin 16, Gliddon 13, Burston 11)
Breakers 86 (Jackson 22, Ibekwe 19, Abercrombie 13)
HT: 34-50