Breakers back on top
The Australian NBL may have been abuzz this week over the arrival of former NBA top-10 pick Jonny Flynn, but Cedric Jackson reminded everyone just who the best point guard in this league is.
Jackson was simply brilliant in Townsville on Friday night as his New Zealand Breakers joined the Wollongong Hawks at the top of the table with a 5-1 record, courtesy of a meritorious 81-72 victory over the now 0-8 Crocs.
With the Hawks going down in Sydney, the Breakers climbed back to a familiar position atop the standings after extending their winning streak to a league-best five.
For that they had a lot to thank Jackson for as the mercurial point guard showed the class that has scouts predicting an NBA gig in the near future. He finished with 14 points (5/11 FG), five rebounds, 12 assists and two steals as the Breakers completed an efficient, if not spectacular, victory.
The Breakers had trailed by a bucket (18-20) after the first quarter, but led by five (40-35) at the half as they stepped up their defence.
But when Jackson took a grip on the third period as he created baskets almost at will the Kiwis had worked out to an eight-point advantage (62-54) that was never threatened over the final stanza.
There was also a welcome return to form from Tom Abercrombie, as the Breakers swingman added 15 points (6/10 FG), six boards and a pair of assists, while sharpshooter Daryl Corletto paced the Kiwi club with an efficient 19 points on seven-of-12 shooting.
Mika Vukona added six points and nine boards for the back-to-back champions, while CJ Bruton finished with eight points and three rebounds in an encouraging finish after he looked to have copped a serious neck injury.
Former league MVP Gary Ervin was the best of the Crocs with 18 points, while Peter Crawford (18) and Todd Blanchfield (11) were the only other home town boys to produce consistently.
The Breakers had led 40-35 at halftime, with Corletto's 11 points on four-of-six shooting and Abercrombie's 10, at the same hit-rate, leading the way.
In other games played on Friday night, former NBA top-10 draft pick Jonny Flynn had a successful debut with the Melbourne Tigers as they spanked the Adelaide 36ers 96-66 behind Chris Goulding's game-high 24 points; while the Sydney Kings ended Wollongong's winning streak at five as they prevailed 65-51.
Townsville Crocodiles 72 (Gary Ervin 18, Peter Crawford 12, Todd Blanchfield 11),
NZ Breakers 81 (Daryl Corletto 19, Tom Abercrombie 15, Cedric Jackson 14). 1Q: 20-18; HT: 35-40; 3Q: 54-62.