Breakers rebound to upset Tigers in Melbourne

17:39, Jan 11 2014
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.

The NZ Breakers have bounced back from one of their worst performances of the Australian NBL season, with one of their best in Melbourne on Friday night.

The threepeat champions shook off their horror 99-73 pounding from Adelaide last Saturday night to upset the Melbourne Tigers on their home court in a thriller that went down to the wire.

The Breakers capped a tumultuous week in the best possible fashion with a 93-87 victory - their second in three festive season road games - that improves their record to 6-10 and keeps on track their outside shot at an unlikely playoff spot.

The third-placed Tigers drop to 10-7 after a defeat they would not have seen coming, especially on their home floor.

But the Breakers, still missing the injured Alex Pledger (ankle), got up on the back of a handful of big-time efforts and a performance that had all the urgency and effort that had been missing in Adelaide.

The Auckland club was led by a standout 21 points (7/12 FG, 4/5 3pt) and three rebounds from Tom Abercrombie and a monster double-double of 17 points (6/10 F), 15 rebounds and six assists from Mika Vukona.

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But the senior Tall Blacks had help. Australian veteran Daryl Corletto bounced back to form with a 15-point haul that included four triples, import point guard Kerron Johnson added 14 points (6/8 FG), three boards and three assists, while Gary Wilkinson chipped in with 10 points (5/9 FG) and seven rebounds.

A special mention had to go to Casey Frank who stepped out of the commentary booth to come to his former club's aid as a temporary fill-in while Pledger is sidelined. The 37-year-old produced nine points (5/9 FG) and seven boards to provide valuable backup minutes in the Breakers front court. On the evidence of this his temporary assignment could yet extend beyond its current short-term.

The Tigers were led by 23 points apiece from star Aussies Mark Worthington and Chris Goulding and 18 from import guard Mustapha Farrakhan, but paid the price for allowing the visitors to shoot a stellar 51 percent from the floor.

The Breakers had produced a vastly improved first half from their 36ers nadir to trail the Tigers by just four (43-47) at the major break.

New addition Frank had been worth his callup from behind the mic too, the naturalised American contributing five points (2/3 FG), two rebounds and an assist in nearly eight first-half minutes in relief of the Breakers bigs.

With regulars Abercrombie, Vukona and Johnson leading the way, the defending champions actually led 22-21 at the end of the first quarter, before the Tigers eked out their four-point edge by halftime.

The Tigers still led, but by a solitary bucket (65-63) at the end of the third term, and as the Breakers continued to make their shots, and enough stops, down the stretch they found themselves leading by four with four minutes remaining and by five inside the last three.

The hosts threatened a comeback, but Abercrombie's huge three-pointer with 52 seconds remaining sealed the deal.

NZ Breakers 93 (Tom Abercrombie 21, Mika Vukona 17, Daryl Corletto 15, Kerron Johnson 14, Gary Wilkinson 10) Melbourne Tigers 87 (Chris Goulding 23, Mark Worthington 23, Mustapha Farrakhan 18, Scott Morrison 10). 1Q: 22-21; HT: 43-47; 3Q: 63-65

Fairfax Media