Wildcats 75 Breakers 73

It was an improvement on their last visit but ended in the same result - the Breakers were once again unsuccessful from a trip to Perth.

In a rematch of last season's grand final series, the defending champion Wildcats were last night barely good enough to repeat their victory from March, edging the Breakers in a seesawing contest at Perth Arena.

That result, while disappointing after the Breakers had opened the new campaign with a win over Melbourne last weekend, was at least a little more respectable for the Kiwi club than the massacre of seven months previous.

Where the Breakers were that day embarrassed, scoring 52 points in a record-low output, this season's group were much more competitive and would have counted themselves unlucky to leave Western Australia without a win.


The visitors had a chance to tie the game as the clock counted down but Corey Webster's mid-range floater missed and the tip-back never came, leaving the Breakers at 1-1 on the new season.

They had controlled large portions of the contest, particularly in the first and third quarters, but the home side made the key plays in the fourth to emerge triumphant from a typically defensive tussle.

Like last week, the Breakers shared the scoring load evenly, with Tom Abercrombie's 12 leading the way ahead of Kirk Penney (11) and Corey Webster (nine). Alex Pledger added eight points to an impressive haul of 10 rebounds but the Breakers were perhaps missing a contribution like that of Casey Prather, the Perth import who poured in 29.

Prather's excellence initially helped halt the Breakers' fast start, after the visitors sprang out to an eight-point lead on the back on an 8-0 run. The three-ball was responsible for creating the early separation, with Penney knocking down his first two attempts from beyond the arc and Abercrombie joining Webster in also finding early success.

But Perth were able to pull back their opponents as they enjoyed some supremacy on the boards, heading to the first break behind by three. And after seven straight points from Prather to begin the second, the scores were soon tied.

The American then helped the Wildcats find their first lead of the game, with a three-point play increasing that advantage to six. The Breakers were now finding Perth's defensive pressure too hot to handle and, with the whistles going against them, the visitors were fortunate to head to halftime only 11 points in arrears.

In total, the damage was represented by a 25-11 mark in the quarter, as the Breakers were caught short on both sides of the ball. But back-to-back threes from Penney and Abercrombie saw their side start fast in the third and, if the second period was one way traffic, the direction suddenly reversed.

The Breakers' defensive clamps were now firmly applied, limiting their opponents to 10 points in 10 minutes, and Rob Loe's three eventually capped a 12-0 run that put the visitors back in front late in the period.

But, once more, the game swung in the fourth and Perth pulled in front heading into the final moments, making the most of a couple of free throws from Prather and a miss from Webster to close out the win.

Wildcats 75 (Prather 29, Wagstaff 16, Kenny 9)
Breakers 73 (Abercrombie 12, Penney 11, Webster 9)
Halftime: 47-36