Vukona fires as Breakers get back-to-back wins

15:53, Nov 28 2013
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Rotnei Clarke of the Hawks lays up the ball under close attention from Tom Abercrombie (left) and Mika Vukona.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Daryl Corletto runs on to the court for the Breakers' season-opening game against the Hawks.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Kerron Johnson makes a lay-up against the Hawks.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Coach Dean Vickerman barks out orders to his team during the opening game against the Hawks.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Alex Pledger puts up a shot against the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Breakers' coach Dean Vickerman encourages his team against the Wildcats.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Breakers' point guard Kerron Johnson passes under pressure from the Wildcats' defence.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Mike Vukona puts up a shot against the Wildcats.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Breakers forward Mika Vukona gets ready to shoot against the Adelaide 36ers.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Breakers forward Reuben Te Rangi, left, takes on Adelaide's Anthony Petrie.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Comeback king Gary Wilkinson revels in his return to the Breakers setup.
New Zealand Breakers 2013/14 season
Breakers point guard CJ Bruton, left, and Adelaide's Anthony Petrie compete for the loose ball.
Mika Vukona
Breakers forward Mika Vukona attempts to drive by Greg Vanderjagt.
Gary Wilkinson
Gary Wilkinson led the Breakers with 19 points in the loss in Townsville.
Daryl Corletto
Guard Daryl Corletto drives by Mitch Norton and to the basket.
Dean Vickerman
Dean Vickerman looks on as his side losses for the fifth time in seven games.
Josh Pace
Gary Wilkinson attempts to block the shot of Townsville's Josh Pace.
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona gets his hand right up in the face of Brian Conklin.
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona of the Breakers secures a rebound during the round eight NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Mika Vukona
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers high fives his team-mates before the round eight NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Mika Vukona
Corey Webster of the Breakers scores during the round eight NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Mika Vukona
Corey Webster, Mika Vukona, Alex Pledger, Kerron Johnson and Thomas Abercrombie of the Breakers look to the bench for instructions as they gather together after scoring during the round eight NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers,
Mika Vukona
Lucas Walker of the Melbourne Tigers shoots over Reuben Te Rangi of the Breakers during the round eight NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Dean Vickerman
Breakers coach Dean Vickerman takes control of a timeout huddle.
Alex Pledger
Breakers centre Alex Pledger battles with two Tigers players for a rebound.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Mika Vukona reacts during the loss to the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Tom Abercrombie in action against the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
Gary Wilkinson puts up a shot.
Breakers 2013/14 gallery
CJ Bruton is recognised for his 500 games in the ANBL.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
The Breakers players huddle after the round 11 NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers at Sydney Entertainment Centre.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
James Harvey of the Kings takes on Calvin Bruton of the Breakers during the round 11 NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Tom Garlepp of the Kings (R) contests with Mika Vukona of the Breakers during the round 11 NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Thomas Abercrombie of the Breakers dribbles the ball during the round 11 NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Kerron Johnson of the Breakers passes the ball during the round 11 NBL match between the Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers at Sydney Entertainment Centre.
Rueben Te Rangi and Kerron Johnson
Rueben Te Rangi and Kerron Johnson attempt to strip the ball from Mitch Creek.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie puts up an off-balanced shot against pressure from Adam Gibson.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie dribbles the ball up-court against Mitch Creek.
Kerron Johnson
Point guard Kerron Johnson pulls down a rebound, as Adam Gibson complains in the background.
Dean Vickerman
Coach Dean Vickerman makes his point during a timeout.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Tom Abercrombie in action for the Breakers against the Hawks.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Mika Vukona looks to pass against the Hawks.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Corey Webster makes a break at the North Shore Events Centre.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Casey Frank of the Breakers, left, and the Hawks' David Gruber contest the ball.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers shoots against the Kings.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Mika Vukona looks to get a pass away in Sydney.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Ben Madgen of the Kings drives past the Breakers' defence.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
CJ Bruton is all smiles in Sydney.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
NZ Breakers import Kerron Johnson taking on the Sydney Kings in Auckland.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers throws out a pass against the Kings in Auckland.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Reuben Te Rangi of the Breakers attempts a lay up against the Taipans in Auckland.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Tom Abercrombie is blocked b Matt Burston of the Taipans at Vector Arena in Auckland.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Mika Vukona of the Breakers goes to the bench after getting fouled off against the 36ers.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers looks to pass against the 36ers in Adelaide.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Breakers coach Dean Vickerman tries to rally his troops in Adelaide.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Casey Frank of the Breakers reacts after an umpire decision during his team's clash with the Adelaide 36ers.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Breakers head coach Dean Vickerman gives Tom Abercrombie some advice during his side's clash with the Crocs.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Casey Frank returns to the Breakers' bench during the clash with the Crocs on the North Shore.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
The Breakers cheerleaders do their routine ahead of their team's clash with the Crocs.
NZ Breakers 2013/14 season
Kerron Johnson of the Breakers speeds past Scott Kenny of the Crocs.
Mika Vukona
Breakers forward Mika Vukona reacts with indignation at a call against him.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie (right) gets some love from team-mate Corey Webster after hitting a three.
Breakers 2014 season
Tom Abercrombie, Daryl Corletto and Casey Frank of the Breakers all look dejected against the Tigers.
Breakers 2014 season
Lucas Walker of the Tigers backs into Gary Wilkinson of the Breakers.
Breakers 2014 season
Corey Webster of the Breakers feels the pressure against the Melbourne Tigers at Vector Arena in Auckland.
Breakers 2014 season
Kerron Johnson of the Breakers goes up against Mark Worthington of the Tigers.
Gary Wilkinson
Gary Wilkinson makes a finger-roll in the lane, two of his game-high 30 points.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie jumps around the Sydney Kings' AJ Ogilvy and looks to pass.
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona is incredulous after a foul call against him.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton thanks Breakers fans after his last game at the North Shore Events Centre.
Breakers NSEC
Breakers fans show their support against the Sydney Kings at the North Shore Events Centre.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton acknowledges Breakers fans after his last game with the franchise.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton brings the Breakers together for a huddle.
CJ Bruton
Breakers fans hold a sign honouring departing guard CJ Bruton.
Breakers
The Breakers huddle ahead of their final regular season game of the season.

Call it heart. Call it soul. Whatever you call what happened at the North Shore Events Centre tonight, just make sure you remember one name: Mika Vukona.

The power forward was colossal for the NZ Breakers in their 84-74 victory over the Melbourne Tigers in Auckland, notching a first-half double-double and appearing at the beating heart of all good his team did while on the court.

Vukona's double-double featured 14 points and 17 rebounds - equally the most rebounds in his career - while the Tall Black came within two assist of a rare triple-double for the defending champions.

Corey Webster
UP AND OVER: Corey Webster of the Breakers attempts to score past the outstretched arms of Chris Goulding of the Melbourne Tigers.

Breakers coach Dean Vickerman's was hugely impressed with Vukona's effort, arguably the team's best individual performance in a match so far this season.

"It was just an absolutely dominant performance from him tonight," Vickerman said.

"He just wanted every rebound. That was probably the most minutes we've played him, and the least fouls he's had.

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"There was a lot of unbelievable things he did tonight."

The double-double, which included 12 first half rebounds, is Vukona's second in three weeks for the Breakers, helping his team to their second straight win for the first time this season.

Overall, it was another improved display from the defending champions, who struggled with tighter fouling rules early in the season but seem to have finally found their stride.

Veteran CJ Bruton was hard-working throughout, while Reuben Te Rangi showed why his stock continues to grow at the Breakers with yet another mature effort under both baskets.

The Breakers ability to contain dangerous shooting guard Chris Goulding would be key if the hosts wanted to record the victory, and while the Australian managed 23 points, Vickerman will be happy with his side's job keeping him out of the game.

Along with Goulding, Scott Morrison was in fine form for the visitors, notching his own double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

However, Tigers coach Chris Anstey conceded the Breakers overall "fluency" was the difference between the two sides.

"Our intent to do the right thing was better today, but our execution [and] decision-making has let us down," he said.

"[The Breakers] were a team that were more fluent in what they wanted to get done, and knew where their shots were coming from down the stretch."

The last time the two sides met in Auckland, the Breakers dished out a 30-point trashing to Melbourne, with Tom Abercrombie and Corey Webster the main destroyers for the hosts late last season.

But from the get-go, there was no chance of a repeat of that sort of blow-out last night by the defending champions.

Vukona set the tone for the game with a rebound in opening seconds, though it was poor passing that was the biggest feature of the Breakers opening salvoes in the match.

Breakers point guard Kerron Johnson, who came into the game under an injury cloud due to an shoulder knock he took last week, looked largely out of sorts with his passing game early on.

While the Breakers looked effective from long range, it was the Tigers making most of the play early - with Goulding and Mark Worthington proving the hardest to handle for the hosts.

The second quarter started tight, but soon it was Vukona providing the difference; be it from the free throw line or claiming defensive rebounds.

The Breakers were able to engineer an 8-point swing, and were able to keep up the momentum into the third period.

Johnson started to get into his work more, and while his shooting radar was off from the field and free-throw line, the American import looked more energetic around the court.

Centre Gary Wilkinson nailed a three-pointer in another relatively quiet night for the giant American import.

Goulding continued to dominant with the ball in hand, but it would be Te Rangi who would make the final statement of the quarter: a three-pointer on the buzzer.

The Breakers were able to pull away in the final quarter with Corey Webster looking energetic, and Johnson regaining more on-court confidence.

NZ Breakers 84 (Mika Vukona 14, Tom Abercrombie 14, Kerron Johnson 13) 84 Melbourne Tigers 74 (Chris Goulding 23, Scott Morrison 21, Mark Worthington 11) 74 1Q: 21-26 HT: 41-38 3Q: 60-58

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