Veterans star as Breakers make it three

19:14, Apr 13 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.

Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis choked back the tears and paid tribute to his two special veterans as the New Zealand club rounded out one of the most emphatic seasons in the Australian NBL's history.

The Breakers, in front of 13,527 screaming fans at the brand new Perth Arena, completed a 2-0 sweep of the grand final with a thrilling 70-66 victory over those gritty, gnarly Wildcats.

The road win - snapping a 14-game win streak by the Wildcats at their home fortress - completed a remarkable season for Lemanis' Breakers who become just the second club in league history to secure a title threepeat. The Sydney Kings also achieved the feat from 2002-05.

Alex Pledger
Darnell Lazare of the Kings defends over the top of Alex Pledger during game one of the ANBL semifinal series at Vector Arena.
Leon Henry
Leon Henry of the Breakers collects a rebound during game one of the ANBL semifinal series with the Sydney Kings.
Andrej Lemanis
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis gives instructions to his players during game one of the ANBL semifinal series against the Kings.
Daryl Corletto
Daryl Corletto of the Breakers looks to play the ball against the Sydney Kings in game one of their semifinal at Vector Arena.
Breakers in 2013 ANBL Playoffs
Darnell Lazare of the Kings is blocked by Cedric Jackson of the Breakers during game one of the NBL Semi Final series between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings.
Breakers in 2013 ANBL Playoffs
Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers dunks the ball during game one of the NBL Semi Final series between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings.
Breakers in 2013 ANBL Playoffs
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers shoots during game one of the NBL Semi Final series between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings.
Breakers in 2013 ANBL Playoffs
Dillon Boucher of the Breakers collects the ball during game one of the NBL Semi Final series between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings.
Breakers in 2013 ANBL Playoffs
Ian Crosswhite of the Kings loses the ball during game one of the NBL Semi Final series between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings.
New Zealand Breakers
Mike Vukona in action in the second semifinal against the Sydney Kings.
New Zealand Breakers
Corey Webster puts up a shot against the Sydney Kings.
New Zealand Breakers
CJ Bruton reacts after sinking a three-pointer against the Sydney Kings.
New Zealand Breakers
The Breakers celebrate after winning the semifinal series against the Sydney Kings.
Breakers
Breakers forward Leon Henry and centre Alex Pledger celebrate victory over Perth Wildcats in game one of the ANBL grand final series.
Breakers
Tom Abercrombie steal possession and make a charge against the Wildcats.
Breakers v Wildcats
Daryl Corletto gets two of his team high 19 points during game one.
Breakers v Wildcats
Cedric Jackson gets around Rhys Carter of the Wildcats.
Breakers v Wildcats
CJ Bruton and Daryl Corletto high five after a made three-pointer.
Breakers v Wildcats
Corey Webster finds away to get around Jeremiah Trueman and Everard Bartlett.
Breakers v Wildcats
Alex Pledger is unlucky to be called for the foul after this block on Perth's Jeremiah Trueman.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton looks for a passing lane under pressure from Everard Bartlett.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton works the referee during the second quarter of Game 2.
Leon Henry
Breakers small forward Leon Henry reaches for a rebound in the second period.
Shawn Redhage
Shawn Redhage attempts to grab control of the ball in Game 2.
Breakers celebrate three-peat
The NZ Breakers celebrate their three-peat after defeating the Perth Wildcats in Game 2.
Breakers celebrate three-peat
Will Hudson jumps into the arms of coach Andrej Lemanis, while Corey Webster and Mika Vukona celebrate the final seconds on the bench.
Breakers celebrate three-peat
Somewhere at the bottom of the Breakers celebratory man-stack is Dillon Boucher, who fired the ball in the air as time expired.
Dillon Boucher cuts down the net
Retiring Dillon Boucher wears the championship net around his neck.
CJ Bruton and Cedric Jackson
CJ Bruton and Cedric Jackson show off the Australian NBL Trophy and their championship medals in the locker room.
Dillon Boucher and CJ Bruton
Multiple champions, Dillon Boucher (left) celebrates his fourth ANBL crown, while CJ Bruton savours his sixth.
Andrej Lemanis
Head coach Andrej Lemanis cuts down his piece of net after the Game 2 victory.
Andrej Lemanis
Andrej Lemanis speaks during the post-game ceremony, while Dillon Boucher celebrates after his last game.
Will Hudson
Will Hudson lets the Perth crowd know exactly which team just beat their Wildcats.
Breakers celebrate three-peat
The entire Breakers team swarms around Dillon Boucher after time expired.
Shawn Redhage
A bandaged Shawn Redhage sums up the emotions of the Wildcats and their fans.

The Breakers also matched the feat of the '04-05 Kings by going through the post-season undefeated, and finished with a record of 24 wins and just four defeats for the entire campaign - including a 16-game winning streak.

This Friday night blockbuster in Perth turned into a classic, with the Breakers leading by 11 after three quarters, but seeing the Cats close the deficit right up to a single bucket midway through the final period.

As is so often the way in playoff contests between these two great rivals, this game came down to big moments and big plays in the final minute or two, with the Breakers just able to keep their noses in front of the scrappy Wildcats who fought to the bitter end.

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Breakers wins
Paul Henare of the Breakers lifts the trophy after winning game three of the NBL Grand Final series in 2011.
Breakers wins
Paul Henare of the Breakers lifts the trophy after winning game three of the NBL Grand Final series in 2011.
Breakers wins
Dillon Boucher of the Breakers holds the NBL trophy during their victory parade in 2011.
Breakers wins
The Breakers celebrate winning the 2011 NBL Grand Final.
Breakers wins
Breakers forward Dillon Boucher celebrating as the Breakers won the 2012 NBL Grand Final.
Breakers wins
The Breakers celebrate their 2011 NBL Grand Final win.
Breakers wins
The Breakers 2011 NBL Grand Final victory parade.
Breakers wins
Breakers coach Andre Lemanis shares a kiss after winning the 2011 NBL final.
Breakers wins
Breakers captain Paul Henare celebrates with the net after winning the 2011 NBL final.
Breakers wins
The scoreboard after the Breakers won their 2011 NBL final.
Breakers wins
Breakers fans during their 2011 NBL final, which they won.
Breakers wins
The Breakers celebrate their 2012 NBL Grand Final win.
Breakers wins
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers thanks fans after their 2012 NBL Grand Final win.
Breakers wins
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers goes up against Luke Nevill of the Wildcats during their 2012 NBL Grand Final. The Breakers ended up winning.
Breakers wins
Breakers' Mika Vukona spins around Wildcats' Shawn Redhage during their 2012 NBL Grand Final. The Breakers ended up winning.
Breakers wins
The Breakers celebrate their 2012 NBL Grand Final win.

And Lemanis' two 37-year-old veterans were big parts of a famous victory. CJ Bruton finished with a game-high 16 points and knocked down four of his five three-pointers to constantly provide the offensive injections the Kiwi club needed to stay in front.

He also coolly slotted two free-throws with nine seconds left to ice the victory.

And the retiring Dillon Boucher shook off an aching body and a bout of illness to play 27 minutes and 53 seconds after Mika Vukona fouled out of the contest in just over 11 minutes of court-time.

"That's one of the things I'm most proud of and most thankful for, the fact we've got a group of veteran guys, and to get a synergy and have them all sacrifice individually for the good of the group it's never easy," said Lemanis.

"To do it once you can kind of stumble on to it, but to go through that pain again, to go through all that war again to get yourself in position to do it again means that they're pretty special people.

"That for me is ultimately what our club is. We're made of just special people, from the ownership, right down through management, support staff, coaching staff and obviously the players."

Lemanis said Bruton's six NBL titles - the equal most in league history - spoke volumes for where he stood in the game's history.

"How many league MVPs has he played with - four or five? - that for me speaks exactly to who CJ is. He's played with all those league MVPs, yet he's never been league MVP himself. But he's won six titles.

"He completely understands what it takes for teams to win. He's the ultimate in being able to connect with his team-mates, and he can get the best out of all of them.

"I'm just blessed to have a player like CJ in our group because it makes coaching so much easier when he's such a leader within the team, understands what the team needs at different times and picks his moments to step up and lead from the front."

Then there is Boucher. The old warrior's numbers were again nothing special - two points, four rebounds, two assists - but he dug as deep as he's had to for a long time in the face of some pretty physical Wildcats play.

With Vukona a virtual passenger with his foul trouble, Boucher had to shrug off his illness, a broken toe that's bothered him for the last few months and numerous other aches and pains, and just do what he had to.

"He just told me after the game [that he'd been sick]," reflected Lemanis. "I said your room-mate picked a hell of a time to foul out in not many minutes.

"But it speaks to who our team has been all year. It's been a special team because of people like Dillon. Everybody sacrifices and does their bit at different times.

"Dillon played himself to exhaustion. There were times I'm looking at him going the guy can't even move. I'd ask him 'Dillon, do you need sub' and he's 'no, no coach, I'm alright'. That's testament to who each of them are as people and what they're prepared to give to the group."

Asked to rate this championship, Lemanis, who may be leaving the club to take the Boomers job, said: "They're all different, they're all special in their own way. This is my first time winning on the road, so that's a different experience. I'm just very proud of the group, and humbled to be their coach with such a great team."

Bruton said it was a great moment to win the championship in Perth, where he grew up, where he watched his father - NBL hall of famer Cal Bruton - create something so strong and lasting and where he took his first steps as a player in this league.

"This one's special," he said. "I was telling DC (Daryl Corletto) you talk about the championships and what means the most. It's the players you play with. It's always special who you go to war with...

"I told him my first one in New Zealand was great because we were playing for a country, and I just felt a little more pride in being able to be part of that. To be able to do it three times and put ourselves on a pedestal, with a group where all of us have been a part of three titles, it's very special."

So many Breakers played their parts as usual. Cedric Jackson had a huge second half to add the finals MVP award to his regular season accolade. Corletto was strong again, and Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger both contributed on the boards, and with their shot-blocking.

But for the two old guys, this threepeat was something they'll treasure for a long, long time. Especially Boucher whose final moment as a Breaker was to fling the ball skywards with the championship - his fourth - in the bag.

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