AT A GLANCE NZ 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, Breakers 51-49.
Thundersticks, clapping, stomping, music and yes, some basketball.
The New Zealand Breakers hit town with a bang in New Plymouth last night with the side igniting its pre-season buildup with a 114-93 win to go one up in the Champions Challenge three- game series against the Dongguan Leopards from China.
After four straight losses in their preseason buildup, the Breakers pulled away late to the delight of the sellout crowd of 2264 at the TSB Stadium.
The win was the prefect way to celebrate the Breakers' first visit to New Plymouth and while the efforts from Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Kerron Johnson and Alex Pledger drew plenty of applause, it was one of the Leopards who really stole the show.
American import Donte Greene was unstoppable.
Greene knocked down four three-pointers and shot 13 from 14 from the free-throw line as he amassed a game-high 41 points.
"They [the Leopards] recruited an NBL player [Greene] and he had 25 points at halftime. He had a very green light to shoot a lot of balls and he did that well," Breakers coach Dean Vickerman said.
Vickerman was happy with the Breakers' start, with the "home" side ahead 29-16 at the first break.
But the Leopards hunted down the lead in the second quarter and closed the gap to 51-49 at halftime, taking the second quarter 33-23.
"They made their run in the second quarter to close it up at halftime. It was a battle."
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."
He was also happy with the vocal crowd.
"The crowd was outstanding. They were into the game. It felt like a Breakers home game."
Vickerman expects a tough match when the two sides meet in game two in Hamilton tomorrow night. The third and final game is in Auckland on Thursday night.
"They'll improve and it's not going to be easy. They made some tough shots out there. They'll adjust to the refereeing, just as we have in recent games."
Abercrombie rediscovered his shooting form with 26 points including four from six from outside the arc. He shot 100 per cent from the free-throw line with 10 from 10 and capped off a good night with three steals.
Webster was also a threat from the deep, draining three from four, while Daryl Corletto pulled the trigger with one sweetly timed shot for three.
Pledger was the only player on the night to finish with a double double, pulling down 10 rebounds to go with his 16 points.
All in all, a great night's entertainment with everyone leaving happy.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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