Hard grind pays off for the NZ Breakers

18:34, Jan 12 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.

The comeback kings have done it again, with the New Zealand Breakers riding home on the late-game heroics of Tom Abercrombie to complete a clean sweep of their quartet of holiday season road games.

For the second time in four Aussie NBL games the Breakers had to mount a serious second-half comeback as they overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to pip the Townsville Crocodiles 82-78 at The Swamp for a fifth straight victory.

The win, which snapped the Crocs' win streak at five, solidifies the Breakers' competition lead at 13-3. Their sweep of four straight road games since their December 28 visit to Adelaide marks the first time they've achieved the feat.

Breakers
GOOD TIMES: Leon Henry (left) and Mika Vukona celebrate the Breakers win over the Townsville Crocodiles.

"We're finding way to win on the road during this stretch," noted Abercrombie after the game. "It hasn't been pretty at times but we've kept grinding and we've come up with some big buckets at the end."

The Breakers had a lot to thank Abercrombie for as the Tall Blacks small forward produced his most telling performance of the season.

He finished with a team-high 19 points on nine-of-15 shooting, but it was the way the springy jump-shooter took the game over in the final three minutes that suggested he may have turned a significant corner in his comeback from that bothersome ankle injury.

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The Breakers had trailed by seven inside the final four minutes, before a Will Hudson dunk got them within five.

Then Abercrombie took over, making four straight jumpers to rattle off nine consecutive points that propelled the Kiwi club to another notable victory.

"We've had to go through different things and we've found different ways to win," said coach Andrej Lemanis.

"In Adelaide we were down 21 at the half and found a way to win. In Wollongong last week there were 22 lead changes and 10 ties, and we found a way to win.

"With that comes a confidence that no matter what's going on, if you keep playing a certain way you're going to give yourself at least a chance to get back in the game and win it.

"This group has been together a while and has experienced success together. That builds a belief that you're never out of it."

Abercrombie and his backup at small forward, Leon Henry, provided the two key offensive parts of the Breakers' latest comeback equation.

Henry's back to back triples at the end of the third quarter were huge momentum changers as the Breakers halved a 12-point deficit in the final minute.

"It was huge for Leon to make those threes at the end of the third, and to see Tommy close out the game the way he did was outstanding for his confidence, and good to see him doing that again," said assistant coach Dean Vickerman.

"We ran some plays for Tom at the end, and Mika [Vukona] set some fantastic screens to get him open. You could just see the change in him as a person. He was running around confident. We need him to be like that during the playoff period."

Vickerman described the victory as "hugely important" as the Breakers continue to keep their noses ahead of the pursuing Perth Wildcats at the top end of the table.

"We put a pretty big focus on these four games to try and get them all. Some people were talking about three out of four. But we expect to go and win every game.

"We're halfway through this heavy stretch right now, and we've got another three games in a week and a-half. We've just got to freshen these guys up and make sure they're ready for Thursday (at home against Wollongong) and Sunday (at Adelaide)."

It wasn't just the Abercrombie and Henry show in Townsville. Cedric Jackson (10 points, 10 boards, eight assists and three steals) had his usual stats-stuffer; the two-headed centre combination of Hudson and Alex Pledger combined for 20 points and 17 rebounds; and Mika Vukona (eight points, eight boards, five assists) and Dillon Boucher both made some big plays.

But on a night where the Breakers were outshot (the Crocs went 54 percent for the game; the Kiwis 43), a huge rebounding advantage (44-18) was crucial in providing a much-needed possession edge for the visitors.

"Our rebounding was outstanding again," noted Vickerman. "If we keep winning that much possession we can win games shooting at 43 percent. There was a huge commitment from everybody on the boards tonight."

Winning has become a habit at this hugely successful club.

Long may it continue. 

Townsville Crocs 78 (Gary Ervin 29, Luke Nevill 20, Michael Cedar 11, Todd Blanchfield 10), NZ Breakers 82 (Tom Abercrombie 19, Cedric Jackson 10, Alex Pledger 10, Will Hudson 10). 1Q: 23-16; HT: 45-30; 3Q: 65-59.

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