Breakers victory over Crocodiles with a cost

08:09, Apr 09 2012
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona of the Breakers clears the ball under pressure during their round one clash with the Wollongong Hawks.
Breakers
Joevan Catron of the Hawks drives to the basket under pressure from Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers during their round one NBL match.
Breakers
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers takes a shot on goal under pressure from Larry Davidson of the Hawks during their round one NBL match.
Breakers
CJ Bruton of the Breakers shoots during the round one NBL match against the Gold Coast Blaze.
Breakers
Mike English of the Blaze shoots during their round one NBL match against the New Zealand Breakers.
Tom Abercrombie
Breakers forward Tom Abercrombie throws down as easy dunk during the first quarter against the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena.
Breakers huddle
Coach Andrej Lemanis talks to his team during a first half timeout.
CJ Bruton
Guard CJ Bruton waves to the Vector Arena crowd as the Breakers leave the court after warm-ups.
BJ Anthony
Breakers forward BJ Anthony hustles after a loose rebound.
Tom Abercrombie
Breaker Tom Abercrombie tries to drive by Kings guard Luke Cooper.
Dillon Boucher
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher applauds from the bench.
Gary Wilkinson
Big man Gary Wilkinson exorts the Vector Arena crowd to cheer.
Cedric Jackson
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson tangles with Sydney's Luke Martin going for a loose ball.
Alex Pledger
Out in the open, Alex Pledger drives to the hoop, being blocked by the rim on a one-handed dunk.
Breakers fans
In a New Zealand basketball record crowd 6383 filled Vector Arena to watch the Breakers and Kings.
Tom Abercrombie
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson in action, defended by Nathan Crosswell during NZ Breakers v Adelaide 36ers basketball match at the North Shore Events Centre.
Tom Abercrombie
Breakers forward Tom Abercrombie in action.
Tom Abercrombie
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson in action.
Tom Abercrombie
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson in action.
Tom Abercrombie
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher in action.
Breakers
Breakers guard CJ Bruton shoots a three pointer against the Wollongong Hawks at North Shore Events Centre.
Breakers
Breakers player Tom Abercrombie looks to get past Hawks forward Oscar Forman.
Breakers
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson tussles for the ball against Glen Saville (left) and Dave Gruber of the Hawks.
Breakers
Breakers forward BJ Anthony and Hawks forward Dave Gruber scramble for the ball.
Breakers
Breakers Forward Gary Wilkinson fires up after colliding with Hawks player Glen Saville on the way to the hoop.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie wipes sweat from his face.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie soars over Townsville's Michael Cedar to block his shot.
Andrej Lemanis
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis appeals to the referees for a call.
Breakers coach clipboard
Andrej Lemanis draws a Breakers play during a timeout.
Gary Wilkinson
A beaten-up Gary Wilkinson acknowledges the Vector Arena crowd.
Breakers
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson gets caught by Tigers centre Tim Lang.
Breakers
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis gets his message across against the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson looks for a way through the Tigers defence.
Breakers
Breakers forward Gary Wilkinson marks Tigers player Cameron Tragardh.
Breakers
Breakers guard Thomas Abercrombie completes an impressive slam dunk against the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers
Breakers Mika Vukona in action against the Gold Coast Blaze.
Breakers
Breakers Cedric Jackson is marked by Blaze's Mark Worthington.
Breakers
Blaze's Anthony Petrie is ejected from the match.
Breakers
Both teams erupt into an all out brawl.
Breakers
Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers under pressure from Chris Warren of the 36ers.
Breakers
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers goes for the basket against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers
Diamon Simpson (L) and Daniel Johnson (R) of the 36ers competes with Dillon Boucher (C) and Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers.
Breakers
Mika Vukona of the Breakers competes with Diamon Simpson of the 36ers.
Breakers
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers reaches for the basket against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers gallery
Breakers cheerleaders in action in the NZ Breakers & Cairns Taipans match at Auckland's North Shore Events Centre.
Breakers gallery
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson slams a basket against the Cairns Taipans.
Breakers gallery
Breakers forward Gary Wilkinson slams in the face of Cairns Taipans guard Andrew Warren.
Breakers gallery
Breakers guard Thomas Abercrombie climbs high against the Cairns Taipans.
Breakers gallery
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis during a timeout against the Cairns Taipans.
Breakers Gallery
Cedric Jackson drives to the basket during the Breakers game against the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers Gallery
Jesse Wagstaff of the the Wildcats and Breakers' Benny Anthony Jnr. compete for the ball.
Breakers Gallery
Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers drives past Ayinde Ubaka of the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers Gallery
CJ Bruton goes up for the lay-up.
Breakers Gallery
Cam Tragardh of the Melbourne Tigers tries to get past the Breakers' Alex Pledger.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers forward Thomas Abercrombie hangs off the hoop against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers centre Alex Pledger wrestles the ball from Adelaide centre Wade Helliwell.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher puts up a shot against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson backs in on Adelaide forward Diamon Simpson.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher beats Adelaide guard Darren Ng to the loose ball.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers guard CJ Bruton drives base-line against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers forward Mika Vukona helps up guard Cedric Jackson against the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers centre Gary Wilkinson shoots against the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers Gallery
Breakers forward Thomas Abercrombie flies at the basket against the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers v Perth, Feb 2, Auckland
Leon Henry shows his emotion after Breakers team-mate Cedric Jackson sunk a buzzer-beating shot against the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers v Perth, Feb 2, Auckland
Breakers centre Alex Pledger grasps possession during the 73-67 win over the Perth Wildcats in Auckland.
Breakers v Perth, Feb 2, Auckland
The North Shore Events Centre crowd gets behind the Breakers during their top-of-the-table defeat of the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers v Perth, Feb 2, Auckland
Breakers guard Daryl Corletto scoots past his Perth Wildcats defender.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton fights for posession during the Breakers clash with Wollongong at the NSEC.
Andrej Lemanis
A bemused Andrej Lemanis jokingly applauds the referee after a foul is called on Mika Vukona.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie rises above Glen Saville of the Wollongong Hawks.
Dillon Boucher
Dillon Boucher tussles for position during the Breakers win over the Wollongong Hawks.
Cedric Jackson
Breakers point guard Cedric Jackson finished with 17 points and seven assists as the Breakers rolled by the 36ers 91-76 in Adelaide.
Breakers v Adelaide
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers goes for the basket against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers v Adelaide
CJ Bruton of the Breakers surges forward against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers v Adelaide
Dillon Boucher of the Breakers celebrates after the match against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers v Adelaide
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers wins the ball against the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers v Gold Coast
Breakers centre Gary Wilkinson scores against Gold Coast Blaze.
Breakers v Gold Coast
Breakers guard CJ Bruton pushes off Gold Coast Blaze point guard Jason Cadee.
Breakers v Gold Coast
Breakers forward Thomas Abercrombie drives on Gold Coast Blaze centre Will Hudson.
Breakers v Gold Coast
Breakers forward Leon Henry in action against Gold Coast Blaze.
Breakers v Gold Coast
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis during the match against Gold Coast Blaze.
Breakers v Gold Coast
The teams are seperated by the ref after an unsportsman foul against Gold Coast Blaze forward Stephen Hoare.
Breakers Gallery
Alex Pledger (right) of the Breakers contests for the ball with Elvin Mims of the Townsville Crocodiles.
Breakers Gallery
Peter Crawford (centre) of the Crocodiles looks to get past Dillon Boucher (right) and Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers.
Breakers Gallery
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers beats Ben Allen of the Crocodiles to the rebound.
Breakers Gallery
Jason Cadee of the Blaze passes against the New Zealand Breakers at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
Breakers Gallery
Leon Henry of the Breakers in action against the Gold Coast Blaze.
Breakers Gallery
Jason Cadee of the Blaze shoots during their match against the Breakers at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
Breakers Gallery
Morgan Natanahira of the Breakers shoots against of the Blaze at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
Breakers Gallery
Dillion Boucher of the Breakers in action against the Blaze.

A late hard foul that left Breakers star Thomas Abercrombie with a serious ankle injury has dampened celebrations for the New Zealand club after they kept their hopes of back-to-back Australian NBL titles alive tonight.

The Breakers won a pulsating, dramatic and eerily familiar semifinal series against the Townsville Crocs with a convincing 97-80 game-three victory in front of 7500 fans at Vector Arena.

But it may have come at a cost with Crocs star Peter Crawford's hard foul on an Abercrombie dunk attempt with 1:36 left (and the Breakers up 91-76) leaving the talented Tall Black with torn ligaments in his left ankle.

Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson passes under pressure from Townsville Crocs centre Luke Schenscher.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher on the fast break chased by Townsville Crocs guard Michael Cedar.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher battles with Townsville Crocs forward Peter Crawford.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers forward Thomas Abercrombie charges into Townsville Crocs forward Todd Blanchfield.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers guard Cedric Jackson scoots around Townsville Crocs point guard Eddie Gill.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
High-fives for the Breakers in the NZ Breakers.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher scoots around Townsville Crocs forward Jacob Holmes.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers forward Thomas Abercrombie keeps the ball in play.
Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles
Breakers head coach Andrej Lemanis talks to his players.
Breakers v Crocodiles
Mika Vukona of the Breakers drives past Todd Blanchfield of the Crocodiles during game two.
Breakers v Crocodiles
Michael Cedar of the Crocodiles attempts a jump shot over Cedric Jackson of the Breakers during game two.
Breakers v Crocodiles
Dillon Boucher of the Breakers makes a lay-up during game two.
Breakers v Crocodiles
Dillon Boucher of the Breakers drives past Jacob Holmes of the Crocodiles during game two.
Breakers v Crocodiles
Russell Hinder of the Crocodiles looks dejected in game two of the NBL Finals series against the New Zealand Breakers.
Breakers v Crocodiles
Eddie Gill of the Crocodiles passes the ball past Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers during game two.
Breakers v Crocodiles
The Breakers celebrate after winning game two of the NBL Finals series against the Townsville Crocodiles.
Tom Abercrombie
The moment before Tom Abercrombie was taken out by Townsville's Peter Crawford on a breakaway dunk.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie is treated on the floor while team-mates go after the referee.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie lies on the court in agony after severely straining ligaments in his left ankle.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton raises his arms after a crucial fourth quarter three-pointer in the game three win.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson hits the hardwood to grab possession for the Breakers.
Breakers bench boys
MAKE OR BREAK: The Breakers are getting ready for a do-or-die match against Perth tonight.
Breakers gallery
Breakers centre Gary Wilkinson drives into Perth Wildcats centre Luke Nevill in game one of the ANBL finals series.
Breakers gallery
Alex Pledger of the Breakers battles with two Perth Wildcats players for the ball in game one of the ANBL finals series.
Breakers gallery
Leon Henry of the Breakers lays the ball up over Luke Nevill of the Perth Wildcats in game one of the ANBL finals series.
Breakers gallery
Breakers guard CJ Bruton on the ball.
Breakers Gallery
Dillon Boucher celebrates the Breakers win over Perth Wildcats in game one of the ANBL finals series.
Gary Wilkinson
Gary Wilkinson gets the Breakers fired-up pre-game.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson gets amongst the front-row fans after making a basket and being fouled.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie gingerly runs onto the court during player intros.
Leon Henry
Small forward Leon Henry defends Perth's Cameron Tovey.
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona looks to score down low under pressure from Luke Nevill.
NZ Breakers
Breakers and Wildcats players get involved in an altercation.
NZ Breakers
Breakers playing discuss tactics during a break in play of game two of the ANBL finals series in Perth.
NZ Breakers
Breakers big man during game two of the ANBL finals series in Perth.
NZ Breakers
Breakers and Wildcats players get involved in an altercation.
NZ Breakers
Kevin Lisch of the Wildcats and Cedric Jackson of the Breakers contest for a loose ball during game two.
NZ Breakers
Leon Henry and Dillon Boucher of the Breakers look on from the bench during game two.
NZ Breakers
Shawn Redhage of the Wildcats celebrates with supporters at the end of the game during game two.
NZ Breakers
Leon Henry of the Breakers lays-up against Matt Knight of the Wildcats during game two.
Breakers
The crowd cheers as the Breakers take to the court during the third and deciding game of the ANBL finals series against the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers
Breakers' forward Mika Vukona avoids the attention of Perth Wildcats' forward Shawn Redhage.
Breakers
Breakers' guard CJ Bruton goes past Perth Wildcats' point guard Brad Robbins.
Breakers gallery
Breakers' guard Cedric Jackson takes the ball to the hoop in game three of ANBL finals series against the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers gallery
Breakers' Alex Pledger climbs high for a dunk.
Breakers gallery
The New Zealand Breakers and the Perth Wildcats get involved in an altercation in game three of the ANBL finals series in Auckland.
Andrej Lemanis gallery
New Zealand Breakers' coach Andrej Lemanis with the ANBL championship trophy.
Andrej Lemanis gallery
The New Zealand Breakers' celebrate their victory in the ANBL finals series.
Andrej Lemanis gallery
New Zealand Breakers' Dillon Boucher participates in the championship-winning tradition of cutting down the nets.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton of the Breakers ducks through the arms of Matt Knight and Brad Robbins of the Perth Wildcats.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton gets the crowd going after hitting a three pointer in the grand finals decider.
Carter, Kaino
Dan Carter and Jerome Kaino show their support for the NZ Breakers.
Dillon Boucher
Dillon Boucher jumps for joy as the Breakers win their second straight Australian NBL title.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson delivers the ball to centre Gary Wilkinson as Perth's Shawn Redhage attempts a block.
Alex Pledger
Alex Pledger shows off his championship ring.
Rio Bruton
Rio Bruton shows his dad is number one after CJ collected the grand finals MVP award.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie holds the championship trophy aloft.

He will have five days to recover ahead of Thursday's opening game of the grand final which will pit the defending champion Breakers against the winner of last night's decider between the Perth Wildcats and Gold Coast Blaze out in the wild west.

The foul caused a heated response from both camps at the time, with angry words exchanged and even Breakers General Manager Richard Clarke getting involved.

Abercrombie gesticulated with unabashed anger at Crawford.

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But later both camps appeared to have cooled, with Crawford saying he had meant "no malice" by a legitimate play at the ball and the Breakers testifying that they did not believe Crawford had gone out to hurt Abercrombie.

"I was just making a play for the ball ... I spoke to Tom after the game," said Crawford last night.

"There was no way I meant to hurt him. I didn't think the game was over. Simple as that. I hope he's all right - I don't go out there to hurt anyone."

Crawford said he would be upset if his foul caused Abercrombie to miss the grand final series.

"I'm missing out on the grand final and I know what it feels like. I hope he's all right. I think he's got a week to get right, and I hope for all the best for him."

Crocs coach Paul Wolpert, who was generous in his praise of the Breakers after the game, said he thought it was a legitimate play at the ball by Crawford.

"As a coach you don't want anyone to quit on a play, and if the game was indeed over Abercrombie probably shouldn't have been out there."

Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis described Crawford as a "good kid" and added: "I certainly believe there was no malice. You might question at that stage of the game whether he needed to actually foul him or not, but it's playoff basketball and I guess everyone talks about no layups."

The Breakers won because they dug deep and executed brilliantly down the stretch to shake loose a fabulous Crocs challenge that, truth be told, continued unabated throughout this series.

The decider, with both teams having won on each other's court, was a battle of attrition and fortitude, as much as basketball skill.

They'd gone to-to-toe Thursday night in Townsville, spent most of Friday on planes and then came out and produced a doozey last night.

The defending champions were just too good down the stretch for the Queenslanders, easing out from a 44-42 halftime advantage to lead by 11 (73-62) at the end of the third and by as many as 17 in the final quarter.

"The Breakers are hell of a basketball team," added Wolpert.

"They're not defending champions and regular season champions for nothing. CJ [Bruton] was outstanding and made numerous huge plays. The Breakers had answers for everything tonight. You have to take your hat off to a quality team."

It was - keeping to the script of last year - an emphatic performance from the Breakers who were led by another turn-back-the-clock display from Bruton who tallied 20 points on seven-of-15 shooting, including four-of-nine from deep.

Abercrombie added a valuable 19 points (4/7 FG, 8/9 FT) and Daryl Corletto also chipped in with 19 points (7/14 FG) on a series of darts to the basket.

Gary Wilkinson added 10 points and six boards, Leon Henry made another telling contribution off the bench with two big triples and Jackson sucked up his pain and contributed six points, five rebounds and three assists while playing well within himself.

Dillon Boucher was also at least twice as good as his stats (four points, four rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block) with a bunch of heady hustle plays that no one writes down but everyone knows are difference-makers.

Crawford made his usual array of big shots and Luke Schenscher bothered the Breakers early inside. But these two were defended a lot better over the second half of the contest.

The Breakers won't know until tomorrow how serious Abercrombie's injury is. But given the magical healing hands of physio Anousith Bouaaphone, it would be a major surprise if he didn't present fit for the grand final.
 
NZ Breakers 97 (CJ Bruton 20, Daryl Corletto 19, Thomas Abercrombie 19, Gary Wilkinson 10), Townsville Crocodiles 80 (Peter Crawford 24, Luke Schenscher 19, Todd Blanchfield 12). 1Q 21-20; HT: 44-42; 3Q 73-62.

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