Breakers in record win
The Streak lives on.
The New Zealand Breakers are now into uncharted waters after securing a club record-setting ninth straight Australian NBL victory tonight, getting up 91-74 at the Wollongong Hawks.
As we've now become accustomed to with this club it was a case of another night, another player's turn to take centre stage as they continue their impressive quest for a title threepeat.
This time it was MVP-in-waiting import Cedric Jackson and rapidly improving bench man Leon Henry who led the way for the polished Kiwi club who mixed some slick offence with some outstanding defence as they massaged their record to a sumptuous 17-3.
The win was also the Breakers' sixth straight on the road, an achievement that is now just one short of their club-best.
Forced to make their fourth trip across the Tasman inside a month, the Breakers simply sucked it up and demonstrated the class that has many now rating them New Zealand's premier sporting franchise.
Less than 48 hours after thumping the Sydney Kings at the NSEC, this glorious mix of seasoned vets, hardened competitors and emerging young talents jumped on the big bird once more and delivered yet another high-quality performance.
Jackson, who's been content to play a support roles the last few games, was back to his brilliant best finishing with 18 points (8/28 FG), seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals in another virtuoso display.
But what about Henry? The backup small forward has been like a butterfly emerging from his NBL cocoon over the last month, and last night the tattooed sharpshooter produced his best performance of the season.
Henry played just under 15 minutes, but made the most of every second as he finished with 14 points on five-of-10 shooting, including a telling four-of-seven from beyond the arc.
The young man certainly has some confidence at the moment, and his coach is rewarding him with the minutes his output deserves.
Others played their parts, as is the Breakers' way, with five players breaking double-figures and the redoubtable Dillon Boucher doing pretty much everything else but score the basketball.
Tom Abercrombie added 11 points, three boards and three assists, while Daryl Corletto cooled off only slightly from his NSEC heroics the other night with 11 points and a pair of assists. Mika Vukona's 10 points on just seven field goal attempts were also valuable.
The victory breaks the club's record of eight straight wins set back over the 2010-11 season, with the Perth Wildcats up next at Vector on Friday night.
The Hawks were led by Adris Deleon's 24 points, four boards and three assists while new import Malcom Grant made a promising debut with 10 points and four dimes.
The Breakers eked out a 49-43 halftime lead, mainly thanks to a dozen first-half points and four assists from Jackson and nine points from CJ Bruton who drilled three of his four three-point attempts.
A 14-4 edge in offensive rebounds also gave the board-crashing Breakers a much-needed possession advantage, as did a 5-1 steals count and being able to force their opponents into 10 turnovers, against just four committed themselves.
But Deleon's offensive firepower, with 14 first-half points, and a promising contribution from new import Malcolm Grant kept the Hawks within shouting distance at the major break.
The Kiwi club then threatened to break free when they built the lead to double-figures early in the third, but once again the home side hung tough and a 9-0 run to finish the period saw them to close to within a bucket (66-68).
But if the game had been in the balance at the start of the final period, it very quickly tilted way back in the Breakers' favour when Jackson, Abercrombie and Vukona got things rolling to jump out to a 17-point lead (84-67) inside the final four minutes.
From there it was only ever going to be one result. Nine in a row baby!
In Wollongong: NZ Breakers 91 (Cedric Jackson 18, Leon Henry 14, Tom Abercrombie 11, Daryl Corletto 11, Mika Vukona 10), Wollongong Hawks 74 (Adris Deleon 24, Malcolm Grant 10, Oscar Forman 10). 1Q: 22-19; HT: 49-43; 3Q: 68-66.