Big names fire as Breakers win on road
Thomas Abercrombie and Cedric Jackson have combined spectacularly to propel the New Zealand Breakers to a 75-64 victory over the Melbourne Tigers at Hisense Arena.
Abercrombie had shown signs last week he was ready to take things up a level after an off-season ruined by ankle surgery, and obliged against the hapless Tigers.
The Breakers swingman piled in 20 points on six-for-12 shooting and added five rebounds as the two-time Australian NBL champions extended their record to 3-1.
Point guard Jackson was also active across the board for the Kiwi club adding 19 points (7/8 FG), eight rebounds, five assists and five steals, as the Breakers cruised to a result that was never in doubt from midway through the second period.
The Breakers led by 10 at the half after getting out by as many as 17 in the second quarter, and though the hosts threatened at times over the final two stanzas, they could never sustain their charge.
Alex Pledger shook off his ankle problems to add seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks for the Kiwi club, while Mika Vukona added eight points and six boards as the Breakers shot 44 per cent from the floor and a worrying 56 (19/34) from the free-throw line.
It was the Breakers' first road game of the new campaign and their 10th victory in their past 12 games against the Tigers.
The Tigers, led by a game-high 25 points and 10 boards by the impressive Seth Scott, now drop to 0-4.
Former Breaker Kevin Braswell had a horror game against his old club with just one point on zero-for-nine shooting.
"We came out with a pretty good mindset and got a good start and really pushed that lead out in the second quarter," said Breakers assistant coach Dean Vickerman afterwards.
"We let them back a little bit just before halftime and it was a real grind in the third quarter. There was some foul trouble, and we got good contributions from a lot of people."
Vickerman described another stat-stuffing night from Jackson as "outstanding", though the Breakers assistant admitted a free-throw line of five-of-13 would have disappointed the American.
"His matchup with Kevin Braswell was certainly well in Cedric's favour tonight," added Vickerman.
Abercrombie's effort also won praise from the Breakers coach.
"He made big shots too, and called his own number on a few plays and really backed himself," said Vickerman.
"We need him to be the prime-time scorer on this team. He shot the three-ball really well tonight (three of five) and that looked so much more comfortable than it did last week."
The Breakers return home now and host the Sydney Kings next Friday in their next outing as they bid for a title threepeat.
NZ Breakers 75 (Thomas Abercrombie 20, Cedric Jackson 19); Melbourne Tigers 64 (Seth Scott 25, Adam Ballinger 15, Chris Goulding 15). 1Q: 22-17; HT: 40-30; 3Q: 53-42.