Breakers extend winning streak to eight

MARC HINTON
Last updated 23:43 24/01/2013
Mika Vukona
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FEND: Mika Vukona of the Breakers fends off Graeme Dann of the Sydney Kings.

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The Streak lives on, now at a record-equalling eight after the New Zealand Breakers produced their slickest offensive display of the season at the NSEC tonight.

The Breakers thumped the outmatched Sydney Kings 95-76 on a steamy night where their shooting started red-hot and stayed pretty warm throughout.

The victory, led by a season-high 22 points from a zeroed-in Daryl Corletto, is their eighth in a row this Australian NBL season, equalling the mark they set around the same period back in the 2010-11 campaign. It improves their overall standing to 16-3 and their home record to an astounding 8-1.

It also brought up their 100th home NBL victory in some style in front of a capacity crowd.

In a chippy contest the Kings, who trailed by 18 at the half, whittled the deficit back to just seven early in the final quarter but could get no closer as Corletto finished the game as he started it - draining three-pointers.

Corletto, who wears No 3 and shoots it pretty damn well too, was a spectacular eight-of-11 from the floor and an even better six-for-eight from deep as he bookended a strong shooting display from the hot home side.

Coach Andrej Lemanis said Corletto's performance had not surprised him, after the sharpshooter had been putting some extra work in on his shot, even during a hectic travel and games schedule.

"Daryl has been busting his butt over the last few weeks, and with the amount of work he puts in you always expect that to translate," said Lemanis.

"I'm a believer in a two-week process, so when you start putting the work in it's always going to take a couple of weeks. When you see him in there early getting a  workout, you see him making 100 threes, you're not surprised in the game when you see it go in. He shot it well."

Tom Abercrombie continued his handy form of late with 17 points (7/14 FG), eight boards and a pair of assists, while CJ Bruton (12 points), Alex Pledger (11) and Mika Vukona (10) made it five Breakers in double-figures on a decent night for the offence.

Bruton, in particular, looked sharp as he dropped three of his five attempts from deep, while Vukona added four boards and four assists in a typically busy display.

The Breakers won without too much in the way of offence from star point guard Cedric Jackson who finished with just four points on two-of-nine shooting, but did have four rebounds, 10 assists and a pair of steals.

The back-to-back champs shot 51 percent for the match and made 11 of their 22 three-pointers on an excellent shooting night. They also outscored the Kings 35-18 off the bench and had a 17-4 edge in points off turnovers.

"There's a good confidence about the group at the moment," added Lemanis. "We're in a rhythm of playing games and we're in a rhythm of winning, and all that helps. People are sharing the ball, and 25 assists tonight is outstanding."

The Breakers were sizzling from the off on a steamy night on the Shore - none more so than Corletto who had his team's first 14 points as he made all four of his shots, three of them from beyond the arc.

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Bruton also drilled both of his threes as the Breakers shot a spectacular 61 percent from the floor and made six of seven attempts from deep en route to a 29-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The home team kept up their slick shooting in the second quarter as others came to the party and the lead built to 18 against a Kings outfit who must have wondered what they had walked into.

Vukona added 10 second-quarter points, Abercrombie seven and Bruton swished his third triple as the Breakers went into the changing-rooms up 18 (58-40) and shooting 57 percent from the floor (22/37 FG) and 73 (6/9) from deep.

The Kings were no slouches themselves, going at 57 percent for the half, but 11 turnovers hurt them badly, as did six steals for the home side.

Sydney whittled the deficit back to 11 in a third quarter they won 26-19 with the benefit of some dubious calls and a 14-point outburst by Ben Madgen, but could not make the final run they needed as Corletto's hot night sealed the deal.

Kings coach Shane Heal lamented a sub-par first half from his team where they left the Breakers shooters too open on the perimeter. "I felt like we got bullied, we turned the ball over and in the first half we just didn't execute any of the game-plan," he said.

Madgen, who finished with 20 points, said he felt the Kings showed "character" to get back into the game early in the final quarter, but was disappointed they couldn't sustain their run to the finish.

The Breakers travel back across the Tasman today for a game against the Wollongong Hawks that can set a new consecutive win mark. You wouldn't bet against notching it up in this sort of form.

 

NZ Breakers 95 (Daryl Corletto 22, Tom Abercrombie 17, CJ Bruton 12, Alex Pledger 11, Mika Vukona 10), Sydney Kings 76 (Ian Crosswhite 22, Ben Madgen 20). 1Q: 29-20; HT: 58-40; 3Q: 77-66.

- Fairfax Media

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