Breakers defeat Leopards after early struggle

TIGHT TUSSLE: Breakers Forward Darnell Lazare battles to evade a Dragons player defending the basket.
TIGHT TUSSLE: Breakers Forward Darnell Lazare battles to evade a Dragons player defending the basket.

The NZ Breakers went one up in the Champions Challenge three-game series against the Dongguan Leopards from China in New Plymouth tonight.

After four straight losses in their pre-season buildup, the Breakers pulled away late to beat the Leopards 114-93.

While the standout players for the Breakers were Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster and Kerron Johnson, the Leopards' American import - Donte Greene - stole the show.

Greene knocked down four three-pointers and shot 13 from 14 from the free-throw line as he amassed a game-high 41 points.

Abercrombie rediscovered his shooting form with 26 points, including four from six from outside the arc.

"They made their run in the second quarter to close it up at halftime," said Breakers coach Dean Vickerman afterwards. "They recruited an NBL player [Greene] and he had 25 points at halftime.

"He's a talent. He had a very green light to shoot a lot of balls and he did that well."

Vickerman was happy with the win. "One hundred and 14 points is a lot in a 40-minute game.

"When they made their run, we didn't dry up at the offensive end.

"We got a lot of people involved and we had great contributions off the bench," he said.

"We saw the true Tom Abercrombie again. He made some great shots. And Kerron Johnson gave us what he needed to ... scoring, assists, he did everything we wanted him to do."

Vickerman expected a tough battle when the two sides meet in game two in Hamilton tomorrow night.

"They'll improve and it's not going to be easy."

The third and final game is in Auckland on Thursday night.

New Zealand Breakers 114 (Tom Abercrombie 26, Kerron Johnson 18, Corey Webster 17, Alex Pledger 16, Damell Lazare 13, Mika Vukona 11) Dongguan Leopards 93 (Donte Greene 41, Quan Gu 15, Hanchen Luo 11). Halftime: 51-49

Fairfax Media