Breakers steal victory to continue streak

20:54, Mar 07 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.

Somehow the streak lives on.

Somehow.

At five points down with a minute and a-half remaining at the NSEC last night it did not look pretty for the Australian NBL-leading Breakers as the Cairns Taipans had them wedged somewhere between a rock and a hard place.

Breakers vs Cairns
TAKING A SHOT: Mika Vukona of the Breakers lays the ball up against Cairns.

But there is no denying the spirit and the skill of the league's best player, nor the drive and determination of its most fierce competitor. So behind Cedric Jackson and Mika Vukona the Breakers forged a mighty comeback over that final 90 seconds to turn a 72-77 deficit into an 80-77 victory that had the sellout crowd on its collective feet.

That made it 14 wins on the trot for the Breakers and leaves them just one win (or one Perth defeat) from sealing their third straight minor premiership as they shoot for a title hat-trick.

The Breakers did it without injured big man Will Hudson who won't return until the final game of the regular season with his knee troubles. They also did it with veteran guard CJ Bruton only able to go six minutes before he had to head home early with an inner ear infection that left him debilitated.

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They also did it with their makeshift frontline battling foul trouble all night and with a bad case of the shooting wobbles (38 percent from the field for the game, a lousy two-of-13 from deep).

Credit also to the Snakes who led for nearly 30 of the 40 minutes of this contest. Behind some sharp shooting from Cameron Gliddon (15 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Jamar Wilson (15 points, five boards) they pushed the back-to-back champs to the brink and very nearly had their second straight upset defeat over a top-two team.

The victory continues the Breakers' recent grip over the Taipans. They have now won 13 of their last 17 against the Queenslanders who have not been successful in New Zealand since October of 2008.

It takes the Kiwi club to 22-3 for the season and drops the Taipans to 9-15 as they now face a virtual sudden-death run for the remainder of the campaign if they're to sneak into the top four. 

The Breakers were paced by a career-high 20-points and six rebounds by Alex Pledger in his 100th game for the club. He went 10-of-11 from the free-throw line and five of eight from the field in a timely scoring outburst.

But it was the efforts of Jackson and Vukona down the stretch that won the game as they picked up steals, boards and buckets right when they were most needed.

Jackson had just a single free-throw at the half but finished with 17 points (7/15 FG), nine rebounds, seven assists and six steals in an MVP-calibre performance.

Vukona's numbers weren't quite as startling - 15 points (6/13 FG), eight boards and three steals - but his energy and commitment were equally as vital when the game went on the line.

Tom Abercrombie made nine of his 10 free-throws to make up for a horror shooting night (1/11 FG), while Daryl Corletto added eight points as the Breakers somehow wriggled out of the tightest of spots with what coach Andrej Lemanis termed "effort and guts".

"It was one of those nights where obviously we didn't shoot it well and surprisingly we got outrebounded (39-37). That doesn't happen to us very much," added Lemanis.

"Yet we still found a way to win which was pleasing. The ability to get up the floor and change some tempo with our defence helped, and then to just stick with it and stick with it and believe if we stayed with it long enough we could eventually turn the tide.

"We turned them over 19 times which was a  big part of it and obviously Cedric and Mika made some fantastic plays, particularly in that fourth quarter. We kept them to four points in the last  five minutes of that fourth quarter which was big too."

Bruton's illness, which came on late in the week, and the foul trouble had really stretched the team's resources, as had a pretty fair Taipans effort.

"To get tested like that, to be behind for most of the night, to be missing layups, missing threes and still find a way to win is very, very pleasing," added Lemanis..

It had been a scratchy old first couple of quarters by the Breakers as they struggled with a few phantom calls and their own inertia at the offensive end en route to a 36-39 halftime deficit.

The hosts had started brightly enough, working into a 16-9 lead deep into the opening quarter. But an 11-1 run by the Taipans saw them eke out a 20-17 lead by the first break, and hold that three-point advantage at the end of second quarter where the Breakers made just five field goals.

With Abercrombie struggling with his shot and Jackson also failing to land a field goal, the fluency of the week earlier was badly missing as the Taipans sensed a second straight upset in the making.

Jackson came alive in the third period as he poured in 12 points and four steals to key a step up in scoring by the Breakers, but it seemed the Queenslanders were able to match their every move as they held firm to lead by four (67-63) heading into the final stanza.

Then it all got very interesting. The Snakes made the first decisive move, but it was the Breakers who finished the deal, and kept that streak alive, ahead of Sunday's trip to the Melbourne Tigers.

NZ Breakers 80 (Alex Pledger 20, Cedric Jackson 17, Mika Vukona 15, Tom Abercrombie 11), Cairns Taipans 77 (Cameron Gliddon 15, Jamar Wilson 15, Alex Loughton 12). 1Q: 17-20; HT: 36-39; 3Q: 63-67.

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