Mitchell Hamilton from Hoopdiary.com
The New Zealand Breakers ended The Melbourne Tigers weekend 0-2, defeating them 90-79 at The Cage on Sunday Night. It was the second leg of a back to back which saw Melbourne defeated by Perth on Friday night also.
Both sides had their injury concerns with Tigers captain Tommy Greer returning after a one game absence and Breakers pair Thomas Abercrombie and Gary Wilkinson clearing fitness tests to play in the game.
In front of a sold out ‘Cage’, the Tigers jumped out to an early 6-0 run which was quickly silenced by back to back, and one baskets made by Mika Vukona. League leading scored Cam Tragardh hit the scoreboard quickly in the first, with 10 points and giving Melbourne a 27-26 point advantage at the first.
Melbourne slightly advanced their lead though the second period however had put the New Zealand into the bonus with 4:46 to play. The Breakers were not able to take full advantage and although Alex Pledger contributed with 8 points in the quarter, the Tigers stretched their lead 45—40 at the half.
Veteran Tall Black Dillon Boucher started in the place of Mika Vukona in the third quarter after Vukona was involved in a collision with Tiger Ayinde Ubaka before half time. The quarter was to belong to the Breakers, who had stepped up intensity on both ends of the floor.
On the back of point guard Cedric Jackson and Thomas Abercrombie (14 third quarter points), New Zealand snatched the lead with 3 minutes to play in the quarter. Melbourne rued some inaccurate free throw shooting which could have kept them closer at the final change, as the Breakers secured a 68-61 point lead.
CJ Bruton continued the Breakers onslaught in the fourth quarter, nailing a three from the wing to get the quarter rolling. New Zealand who were exuding confidence and displaying excellent ball movement continued on a 45-11 run to push their lead to 26 points.
Melbourne brought some respectability back into the scoreboard going on a run of their own however the Breakers still ran out 11 point victors.
Cedric Jackson was in MVP form falling one rebound shy of a triple double (11 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds) and was also aptly assisted on the scoreboard with six Breakers players scoring in double figures and seven players over nine points.
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis said his team played described the difference between the halves as less turnovers and aggressiveness on offense.
“We played with decent intensity throughout the game. In that first half we just got too many turnovers off being negative. Whenever we were aggressive good stuff happened for us and I thought we did a much better job at continuing on the back of the offensive end.”
Lemanis also praised up his ex NBA point guard Cedric Jackson and Breakers young gun Thomas Abercrombie’s efforts in the second half.
“Ced was unbelievable getting in the lane, it just opens everything up for everybody. Tommy was able to just change the game by making some effort plays out there.”
Tigers coach Trevor Gleeson lamented at the poor defensive effort by his team and dismissed the excuse of two games in the space of three days as being a catalyst for the effort.
“Excuses don’t win games,” stated Gleeson.
“From half time, five points up to lose a game like that is very disappointing. Our defence is horrendous. We gave up 50 points in the second half. They’re a team that likes to feel good and we made them feel good.”
Melbourne will be now in a dogfight to make the playoffs having two losses in a row and holding a record of 9-8. New Zealand will look to take the momentum from this victory into their four game home stand where they will be hoping to wrestle top spot off the Perth Wildcats.
Melbourne Tigers 79 (Tragardh 21, Ubaka 17, Rush 16)
New Zealand Breakers 90 (Abercrombie 18, Corletto 15, Bruton 14)
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