Breakers stretch winning run to six games

19:23, Jan 17 2013
Breakers vs 36ers
Dillon Boucher and Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers compete with Anthony Petrie and Daniel Johnson of Adelaide.
Breakers vs 36ers
Jason Cadee of Adelaide competes with Daryl Corletto of the Breakers.
Breakers vs 36ers
Will Hudson of the Breakers dunks the ball during the round two NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers vs 36ers
Stephen Weigh of Adelaide makes a break during the round two NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers vs Wildcats
lex Pledger of the Breakers competes with Matthew Knight of the Wildcats during the round one NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers vs Wildcats
Mika Vukona of the Breakers drives passed Shawn Redhage of the Wildcats.
Breakers vs Wildcats
Tom Abercrombie, CJ Bruton and Dillon Boucher of the Breakers look on during the round one NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers vs Wildcats
Damian Martin of the Wildcats gets around CJ Bruton of the Breakers.
Breakers
Breakers' Mika Vukona drives against Crocs' Jacob Holmes.
Breakers
Mika Vukona under pressure from Jacob Holmes.
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers rides the shoulders of Jacob Holmes of the Crocs.
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers rides the shoulders of Jacob Holmes of the Crocs.
Breakers
Gary Ervin lays up a shot for the Crocs as Alex Pledger attempts a block.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie goes for the block on Kings' Tom Garlepp.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson with the ball for the Breakers.
Daryl Corletto
Daryl Corletto the ball up for the Breakers.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson collides with Corin Henry of the Sydney Kings.
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona shoots the match-winning three-pointer against the Sydney Kings.
Breakers vs Crocs
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers looks to drive past Larry Abney of the Crocodiles.
Breakers vs Crocs
Daryl Corletto of the Breakers drives past Jacob Holmes of the Crocodiles.
Breakers vs Crocs
Russell Hinder of the Crocodiles attmpts to drive past Alex Pledger of the Breakers.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton barks out some orders to team-mates.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson on the ball for the Breakers.
Dillon Boucher
Dillon Boucher celebrates during the Breakers win over the Townsville Crocodiles.
Tom Abercombie
Tom Abercombie throws down a slam dunk.
Tai Webster
Tai Webster takes the ball to the hoop.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Tom Abercrombie of New Zealand (L) and Seth Scott of Melbourne compete for the ball.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Will Hudson of the Breakers during the round nine NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers collects the rebound during the round nine NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Cory Webster of the Breakers takes a shot against Melbourne.
Breakers v Taipans
Cedric Jackson goes up for two of his NBL career-high 32 points against the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Mika Vukona chases a loose ball during the Breakers win over the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Tom Abercrombie floats a ball over Brad Hill of the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Alex Pledger pulls down a rebound against the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Dillon Boucher sticks close to Dusty Rychart of the Taipans during the Breakers' 97-76 win.
NZ Breakers
Adelaide's Luke Schencher protects the ball as CJ Bruton, Dillon Boucher and Will Hudson close in.
NZ Breakers
Mika Vukona guards Adelaide's Dan Johnson.
NZ Breakers
Cedric Jackson goes up for a lay-up during the Breakers away win over Townsville.
NZ Breakers
Breakers and 36ers players dive on a loose ball.
NZ Breakers
Will Hudson attempts a block on Crocs player Michael Cedar.
NZ Breakers
Leon Henry celebrates his double three-pointers at the end of the third quarter against the Crocs with teammate Mika Vukona.
NZ Breakers
Mika Vukona protects the ball from Hawks players Tyson Demos and Oscar Forman.
NZ Breakers
Tom Abercrombie completes an alley-oop pass from Cedric Jackson during the heritage game against the Hawks.
NZ Breakers
Dillon Boucher, a member of the original Breakers side, looks for a pass during the heritage game.
NZ Breakers
Will Hudson blocks Hawks guard Adris Deleon.
Breakers v Kings
Tom Abercrombie goes up for a dunk as James Harvey of the Kings looks on.
Breakers v Kings
Daryl Corletto and Dillon Boucher celebrate the Breakers' hot start against the Kings.
Breakers v Kings
Mika Vukona goes for the easy lay-up.
Breakers v Kings
Daryl Corletto nails a three on his way to 14 points in the first four minutes against the Kings.
Breakers v Perth
Corey Webster shoots over Kevin Lisch on his way to a career high 14 points.
Breakers v Perth
CJ Bruton celebrates a three pointer.
Breakers v Perth
Cedric Jackson lays the ball up over Perth's Matt Knight.
Breakers v Perth
Tom Abercrombie loses a shoe as he goes for a dunk over Greg Hire.
Breakers v Perth
Jeremiah Trueman of the Wildcats and Alex Pledger of the Breakers compete for the ball.
Breakers
Mika Vukona celebrates a late basket with CJ Bruton.
Breakers
Dillon Boucher goes for a steal during the Breakers 92-84 win over the Wollongong Hawks.
Breakers
Tom Abercrombie takes a jump shot during the game against the Hawks.
Breakers
Cedric Jackson shoots under pressure from Wollongong Hawks players.
Breakers v Hawks
Cedric Jackson makes a pass around Oscar Forman of the Hawks.
Breakers v Hawks
Tom Abercrombie shoots a jumper during the win over the Hawks.
Breakers v Hawks
CJ Bruton entertains the crowd during a break in play.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers player Corey Webster scores a layup against the 36ers.
Breakers vs 36ers
Tom Abercrombie slam dunks the ball.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers' Mika Vukona drives at 36ers' Stephen Weigh.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers' Corey Webster takes on 36ers' Anthony Petrie.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers' Dillon Boucher celebrates the team's 13th straight win.
Breakers vs Cairns
Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers hangs on the hoop after dunking the ball.
Breakers vs Cairns
Mika Vukona goes after the ball against Cairns.
Breakers vs Cairns
Cedric Jackson shares a hug with Dillon Boucher after the thrilling win over Cairns.
Breakers vs Cairns
Mika Vukona of the Breakers lays the ball up.
Breakers 2012-2013 season photos
An injured Mika Vukona is helped off the court during the Breakers' clash with the Tigers.
Breakers 2012-2013 season photos
Dillon Boucher waves to Breakers fans for the last time ahead of the game with the Tigers.
Breakers 2012-2013 season photos
Christopher Goulding of the Tigers tries to block Dillon Boucher during their clash at the North Shore Events Centre.
Breakers v Tigers
Tai (left) and Corey Webster enjoy some time on court together in the final quarter of the win over the Tigers.
Breakers v Tigers
Reuben Te Rangi drives past Lucas Walker of the Tigers.
Breakers v Tigers
Tom Abercrombie soars high for one of his three alley-oops in the opening quarter of the win over Melbourne.
Breakers v Wildcats
Alex Pledger pulls down a rebound in the regular season finale against the Wildcats.
Breakers v Wildcats
Cedric Jackson mulls the loss after the Wildcats defeated the Breakers in Perth.
Breakers v Wildcats
Dillon Boucher tries to deny the pass for Jesse Wagstaff during the Breakers loss to the Wildcats.

It's a good team that can win ugly, and a bloody good one that can do it over and over again.

That's been the story of the NZ Breakers' last month or so as they continue to win - six in a row now - and continue to do so with more than a degree of discomfort.

Last night it was their bogey team, the Wollongong Hawks, as the Breakers brought their Australian NBL show back home for the first time in a month.

Cedric Jackson
INFLUENTIAL: Point guard Cedric Jackson finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists as the Breakers made it six straight wins.

At a sold-out NSEC the Kiwi league leaders muddled their way through much of a pretty stirring contest, but still found a way to win at the end, when it really counted. Their 72-71 victory takes them to a league-best 14-3 for the season, and improves their home record to a stellar 7-1.

The gritty Hawks, who lost to the Breakers at home by a deuce earlier in the month, deserve a huge amount of credit for a gutsy display just days after losing their starting backcourt for the season to serious knee injuries. Undermanned, they played the Breakers tough, as they usually do, and but for the bounce of the ball at the end could have stolen a famous win.

The Breakers looked tired after a month on the road and a 36 percent shooting night reflected that. But as they have done time and again over the last three seasons, they found a way to win even when things weren't going their way. A 40-32 rebounding advantage helped, as did 14 turnovers forced, against just six conceded.

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The last few minutes of an exciting, if not high-quality, contest provided the capacity crowd with plenty of anxious moments.

The Breakers had looked safe when they scooted out by five with two minutes left, but two big buckets from the Hawks' Larry Davidson got them back within one.

A timely Alex Pledger tap-in made it 71-68 with 1:20 remaining, and from there it came down to free-throws, with Hawks star Adris Deleon unable to cap a brilliant night, and sent the game into OT, when he made just one of two with three seconds on the clock.

Tom Abercrombie continued his resurgence to lead the Breakers with 15 points (6/14 FG, 3/4 3PT), four boards and three assists. He's back moving pretty damn close to his pre-ankle injury best.

Big Pledger also had an influential night with 12 points, eight boards (seven at the offensive end) and two blocks, while an off-colour Cedric Jackson went just four-of-15 from the floor but still tallied 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Corey Webster also added seven points off the bench in as many minutes, while Leon Henry again provided a high-energy contribution in limited time.

"We're finding ways to win and that's what good teams do," said veteran Dillon Boucher after adding four points and six boards off the bench. "We weren't pretty for a lot of the game but we ended up doing enough to be on top at the end.

"The good teams I've been on are teams that find ways to win no matter what's against you, whether it's injuries, whether it's bad shooting, whatever. We're finding a way to win. That's the positive we'll take out of this game."

Deleon was brilliant for the Hawks, making 13 of 24 shots for 34 points as he poured in the ANBL's highest score for the season. He added four boards, six assists and a pair of steals just for good measure.

Oscar Forman chimed in with a dozen points for Wollongong, but just one after the break, and rookie Auryn Macmillan added 11 off the bench.

Hawks coach Gordie McLeod though couldn't hide his disappointment after his team had fought so valiantly just days after losing Rhys Martin and import Lance Hurdle for the season.

"It's just so disappointing when you get so close but can't get over the line," he said. "We've only got ourselves to blame. In this league one or two mistakes or breakdowns can cost you dearly, and obviously 20 offensive rebounds is going to hurt you dearly.

"That amount of possession is going to kill you. It was a fantastic effort but in the end it was all for nothing if you can't finish it off."

The Breakers played the first half as though they were fatigued or over-confident - or possibly a little bit of both.

On the back of that tough - and perfect - four-game road haul over the holiday period the Breakers struggled to get out of second gedar and the under-manned Hawks looked much the sharper outfit.

The Breakers shot just 32 percent through the first two quarters, while their opponents rattled along at a much more respectable 50 percent clip to take a deserved 37-30 lead into the locker room.

It was a little better in the third quarter as the Breakers stepped up their defence out of the break, winning the period 23-16 to head into the final stanza with the scores locked at 53-53.

From there it was tight and tense and tough till the end. The Breakers' kind of game.

NZ Breakers 72 (Tom Abercrombie 15, Alex Pledger 12, Cedric Jackson 10) Wollongong Hawks 71 (Adris Deleon 34, Oscar Forman 12, Auryn MacMillan 11) at North Shore Events Centre.

Fairfax Media