Live-blog: Breakers win back-to-back ANBL titles
Welcome to our live blog commentary of the ANBL grand final series.
Vector Arena in Auckland is sold out for Game 3 between the NZ Breakers and Perth Wildcats.
In what must rate among the best final series in the league's history, the Breakers won an absorbing Game 1 in Auckland in overtime 12 days ago, before the Wildcats hit back with a one-point triumph in Perth on Friday night.
Join stuff.co.nz sports web-editor Scott Preston for tip-off at 7.30pm. Keep refreshing this page for updates.
10.00pm: Three-peat in 2013!? Why not.
9.57pm: Thanks for joining us for this 'Breakers go back-to-back' live-blog. My left thumb is throbbing. Time to sign off. Congratulations to basketball and congratulations to the Breakers.
9.52pm: TROPHY TIME! Breakers drowning in confetti as they chant "TWO" "TWO" "TWO" "TWO"
9.47pm: Breakers taking to the stage now. Trophy time coming up.
9.46pm: CJ Bruton wins the Larry Sengstock Medal for Finals MVP.
9.42pm: Wildcats coach Beveridge gives special mention to Bruton, whose threes late in the fourth was the difference in Game 3. Classy move. CJ now has five ANBL titles.
9.39pm: 9200 people watching the Breakers clinch back-to-back titles. When Jeff Green and his backers started the Breakers in 2003, don't know that I dared to dream that to be happening just nine years later.
9.35pm: Dad agrees with my Finals MVP pick. This was his first Breakers game of the season.
9.34pm: I would give you some stats right now but the live stats link has gone down. Scorebench probably a big bit excited right now.
9.33pm: Think I have to go CJ Bruton as Finals MVP.
9.31pm: Redhage very honest and respectful in defeat talking to Dennis Katsanos.
9.30pm: As former Otago Nugget Daniel Kong just pointed out to me on Twitter, he called this championship back in October. Well done Donkey Kong.
9.28pm: Cedric Jackson just threw his shoes into the crowd. Hopefully we don't see them on Trade Me tomorrow. Hold onto them people.
9.27pm: Gary Wilkinson is celebrating and not even Rob Beveridge can have a problem with that. Final score 79-73. Breakers the first team to repeat as ANBL champions since the Sydney Kings three-peated in the early 2000s.
0:00 4Q: Zeros on the clock. Breakers repeat!!!
0:02 4Q: Almost celebration time!
0:22 4Q: After a Robbins basket and Jackson turnover, Abercrombie rises to block Redhage at the basket! CJ Bruton is fouled and heads to the FT stripe. Makes both 79-73 Breakers.
0:48 4Q: Tovey fouls out of the game with a foul on Jackson, who goes to the line after Lisch scored for the Wildcats. Jackson 1-of-2. Breakers 77-71.
0:58 4Q: Three-Jay Bruton!!! Breakers 76-69.
1:09 4Q: Redhage answers with a quick three to close back within four points. This thing is far from over. Timeout Breakers.
1:15 4Q: Jackson squeezes between a pair of Wildcats for the basket. Breakers 73-66. Timeout Wildcats. The Vector Arena is rocking! At least that's how it sounds on TV.
1:26 4Q: Redhage scores on the put-back.
1:51 4Q: CJ Bruton with the three! Abercrombie grabs the offensive board and hits CJ at the top of the key. Breakers 71-64.
2:37 4Q: Vukona comes out of the pack with a steal, passes to Wilkinson, who is fouled by Knight and makes both FTs, Breakers 68-64.
3:09 4Q: Teams scrapping for everything right now. It's not pretty basketball. Breakers 66-64. This is what we call "in the clutch".
3:50 4Q: Missed threes from Wilkinson, Bruton and Abercrombie as the Breakers look for a dagger shot. Lisch in the meantime got the Wildcats within two.
5:45 4Q: Wilkinson scores in the lane again, Breakers 66-62.
6:19 4Q: Redhage has a big grab of Wilkinson singlet and gets whistled for the foul. About. Time.
6:45 4Q: Wilkinson with a tough step-back jumper, Btreakers 64-62.
7:09 4Q: Tovey drains a three for Perth to bring the scores level again at 62-62. Sloppy execution and too much individual play from the Breakers. Mirroring the fourth quarter of Game 2. We'll see if that continues. Timeout Breakers.
8:25 4Q: Lisch hits a three, Perth's first of the game and closes the gap to three.
8:40 4Q: As Casey Frank just pointed out, the refs have swallowed their whistles for this fourth period.
9:26 4Q: Jackson starts fourth well. Drives, pass to Pledger, who scores, then Jackson gets the steal, draws the contact on the breakaway and will shoot two. Makes 1-of-2 but Boucher gets the offensive board, Jackson dishes to Pledger, who is fouled and he'll now shoot a pair. He makes 1-of-2, Breakers 62-54.
10:00 4Q: Here we go! Can your nerves handle it?
0:00 3Q: LOB PASS TO ABERCROMBIE! Jackson to Abercrombie for the alley-oop lay-in. Breakers lead 58-54 with a quarter to play. Redhage earlier put Perth within two with 40 seconds left in the period.
1:00 3Q: Brad Robbins drops an elbow/shoulder into Boucher. No call made.
1:30 3Q: Important two points for Abercrombie, following up two FTs from Redhage. Breakers 56-52.
2:18 3Q: Redhage called for the offensive foul on the screen against Jackson. No way! Redhage never does that!
2:33 3Q: Jackson draws the third foul on Lisch with a lightning quick drive to the hoop on the fast-break. Jackson makes 1-of2 and Breakers up 54-50.
3:34 3Q: Pledger scores down low, Breakers 53-50. Maybe Dad was onto something.
4:33 3Q: My Dad's analysis: "They need to get Pledger out there now. They need him out there to guard the Aussie big guy. Nevill will kill them down there". He knows nothing about basketball by the way.
4:33 3Q: CJ Bruton answers a wide-open Greg Hire three with one of his own, Breakers 51-50.
5:55 3Q: He can't make lay-ups right now but Wilkinson drains a three-ball, Breakers 48-45.
6:43 3Q: Wilkinson makes 1-of-2 to tie the scores, gets the offensive rebound but steps on the sideline during the possession.
6:43 3Q: After a Wildcats turnover, Wilkinson fouled hard by Tovey at the basket. He'll shoot a pair after the Wildcats timeout. Good hard foul by Tovey. Unlike Peter Crawford's foul on Abercrombie during the semifinal series, Tovey avoided contact with the body and made a realistic play at the ball.
7:57 3Q: Wilkinson misses another lay-up. These close-range misses (wish that was a stat) could end up costing the Breakers. And another lay-up missed.
8:12 3Q: Vukona fouls Redhage attempting a three. He makes 2-of-3, Wildcats up 45-44.
8:30 3Q: About 30 seconds after missing a break-away lay-up, Wilkinson runs the lane, gets the pass from Vukona, makes the basket and converts the And-1. Breakers 44-43.
9:29 3Q: Jackson penetrates, dishes to Vukona for the lay-in and the Breakers tie it up.
8.37pm: 3rd Q underway ... CAN YOU FEEL IT!?
8.36pm: Prediction for this second half. I'll have carpal tunnel syndrome if this goes to overtime.
8.35pm: Ladies, it's Dan Carter! He's on the bandwagon just in time.
8.34pm: The start of the third periods have been an issue for the Breakers in the ANBL post-season. Hopefully coaches Lemanis, Vickerman and Flavell have made some strong adjustments at the big break.
8.33pm: Commentator Andrew Mulligan just tweeted that "BAZINGA!" on the Pledger alley-oop was a dare from one of his other eight media jobs - the Morning Rumble on The Rock radio station - I hope he's collecting something good.
8.29pm: Wildcats 58% FG, 0% (0/5) 3pt, 71% FT. Breakers 42% FG, 41% 3pt, 100% FT. Wildcats 18-12 on rebounds and dominating the paint 24-10. Wildcats have nine turnovers to the Breakers' six.
8.27pm: Knight has an equal game-high 10 points at the half for Perth. He's 4/4 from the field and 2/2 from the FT line. Gary Wilkinson has 10 points for the Breakers, while Abercrombie has been credited with six points on a pair of threes. Pretty sure that should be eight points as he also scored in the lane.
8.26pm: Prepare to be hit with some stats.
8.23pm: The TAB still has the Wildcats at $2.35 underdogs despite a two-point lead at halftime. (Of course, we're not advocating gambling. Especially pokie machines).
0:00 2Q: Jackson scores to end the first half, following a Williamson basket for Perth, and the Wildcats lead 41-39 at halftime at Vector.
0:33 2Q: Jackson spins in the lane to score, after Lisch made a basket, after Pledger scored in the post. Teams going back and forth in the final minute.
1:11 2Q: Breakers have no answer right now for Knight, who scores again, after Robbins converted 1-of-2 FTs, Wildcats 37-33.
2:32 2Q: Knight, who has torched the Breakers in this first half, takes a Lisch pass, is fouled by Pledger and makes the basket. Adds the FT to put the Wildcats up 34-31.
2:54 2Q: Pledger makes a pair of FTs, Breakers now lead 33-31. Have scored the last six points.
3:40 2Q: Jackson with the alley-oop pass to Pledger for the dunk and Andrew Mulligan goes with an homage to The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper with a "BAZINGA!" call as the scores are tied 31-31.
4:16 2Q: Jackson throws away an entry-pass in to Pledger. Some sloppy play from the Breakers. Abercrombie earlier got them within two points with a step-through lay-in.
5:53 2Q: Wilkinson hits a three after getting Knight in the air, following Lisch's drive past Boucher to the basket, Perth 31-27,
6:35 2Q: Breakers shooting percentage continues to drop as Bruton misses a three from the corner, after Martin's runner gave the Wildcats a 25-24 lead. Timeout Breakers. Breakers have just two points in almost four minutes of this quarter, resembling the fourth quarter of Game 2.
7:53 2Q: Gary Wilkinson is fouled by Cameron Tovey and Casey Frank is giddy in commentary trying to explain how he run over him. Wilkinson makes both FTs, Breakers 24-23. Knight answers from mid-range to get Perth the lead back.
8:15 2Q: Knight hits from the top of the key to give the Wildcats their first lead, 23-22.
9:04 2Q: Perth's Luke Nevill now has three fouls and will likely sit out the rest of the half.
9:12 2Q: Jackson just misses a runner in the lane and then collects the defensive board and draws the foul at the other end.
10:00 2Q: Looking at the first period stats: Breakers shooting 44% FG, 50% 3pt and Wildcats 71% FG, 0% 3pt. Wildcats had five turnovers but out-rebounding the Breakers 7-4.
0:00 1Q: Nice defence on the final possession of the quarter for the Breakers, with Williamson forced to shoot a tough three at the buzzer. Breakers lead 22-21.
0:52 1Q: Bruton whistled for his second foul as Redhage drives out-of-control down the lane. Makes 1-of-2 FTs but Perth gets the offensive board and Nevill makes it 22-21 with a shot over Pledger.
1:44 1Q: A rare mid-range jumper from Mika Vukona, Breakers 22-18. Robbins misses on Perth's next possession.
2:50 1Q: Matty Knights scores in the post, followed by a CJ Bruton two-pointer. Then the pair wrestle for the ball at the other end. Breakers 20-16.
3:30 1Q: Lisch makes his second basket, then Leon Henry front-rims a corner three.
4:10 1Q: Brad Robbins hits a two for Perth, then CJ Bruton answers with a defended three-ball. Breakers 18-12.
4:52 1Q: Pledger gets position on Redhage and gets the offensive rebound, misses the tip-in on the missed Jackson three but will go to the free-throw line after being fouled. Timeout Wildcats. He hits both, Breakers 15-10.
5:32 1Q: Abercrombie hits a three from the corner, then Greg Hire answered at the other end, Breakers 13-10.
6:00 1Q: Changing how we indicate where we're at in the game. Wilkinson hits a pair of FTs, Breakers 10-6.
7.45pm: Heads-up play from Martin, who steps in front of Abercrombie and draws an offensive foul, then Lisch hits a mid-range jumper, Breakers 8-6.
7.44pm: Nice move on Abercrombie from Redhage, who scores down-low. Vukona blocked at the Breakers end and Boucher comes in for the home side.
7.43pm: Martin alley-oops to Nevill for Perth's first points, but Gary Wilkinson answers with another long-ball, Breakers 8-2.
7.42pm: The Wildcats have two turnovers already. Abercrombie hits a 3, Breakers up 5-0.
7.42pm: After misses from Abercrombie and Corletto, and a pair of offensive boards, Corletto scores the game's first points.
7.41pm: Tom Abercrombie blocked by Luke Nevill on the first possession.
7.38pm: Seems like forever since Game 1 on April 12. We're getting close to tip-off now, Europe's 'Final Countdown' playing in the arena gives that away.
7.34pm: Sky Sport host Dennis Katsanos and Casey Frank chatting pre-game. Two points: The box that Dennis stands on is about two-feet high, and how ironic that Casey would mention a razor blade with that bird's nest on his face.
7.32pm: Heard an "interesting" conspiracy theory last night: That the Breakers purposely lost Game 2 so they could pack out Vector Arena and reap the financial rewards that come with that. In this case, interesting also means completely nuts.
7.30pm: Sky Sport broadcast about to begin. I feel like it's obligatory to mention that "these two teams don't like each other". You may not hear that tonight.
7.26pm: If you want to add a comment or ask a question, you can do so below or tweet me @prestonjscott.
7:22pm: First-year Breakers coach Jeff Green, on the commentary for Radio Sport tonight, earlier on One News picked the Breakers by "10-plus, at least". Don't know that I have the same confidence as Coach Green but I can't see the Breakers playing as badly as they did in the second half of Game 2 and not closing this thing out.
7.20pm: If you're not geeked enough about this game, here's some reading that'll surely get you there: Breakers after boost from fans, Breakers need to be calm, calculated, Wildcats coach misinterpreted, Breakers ready for cheap shots, Vukona vows to step up.
7.18pm: Your line-ups for tonight:
NZ Breakers: Cedric Jackson, Daryl Corletto, Tom Abercrombie, Mika Vukona, Gary Wilkinson, CJ Bruton, Leon Henry, Dillon Boucher, Alex Pledger, Josh Bloxham, Dion Prewster.
Perth Wildcats: Damian Martin, Kevin Lisch, Cameron Tovey, Shawn Redhage, Luke Nevill, Brad Robbins, Drew Williamson, Jesse Wagstaff, Greg Hire, Matthew Knight.
And your coaches are Andrej Lemanis (Breakers) and Rob Beveridge (Wildcats), and assistant coaches: Dean Vickerman and Judd Flavell (Breakers) and Shawn Dennis (Wildcats).
7.16pm: Many questions and storylines going into this championship decider: How much of an impact will Tom Abercrombie have? Will Cedric Jackson's ankle injury affect the Breakers' offence? What about the leg injuries to Wildcats guards Damian Martin and Kevin Lisch? Will Mika Vukona break out of his playoffs slump? Will Gary Wilkinson and Jesse Wagstaff have another dust-up? Will the referees continue to fall for the Wildcats' flopping? How many times will commentators Andrew Mulligan and Casey Frank reference Will Ferrell movies? Will my Dad stay awake for the entire game?
7.15pm: Evening folks and welcome to Stuff.co.nz's live-blog of game three of an epic Australian National Basketball League grand final series. The defending champion Breakers and Perth Wildcats set to tip-off around 7.40pm at Vector Arena, which sold out 9200 tickets in less than two hours for this game.
Unfortunately this live-blog is not coming to you from media row at Vector Arena, but from my Dad's couch in Queenstown. Thanks Sky Sport.