Hungry Jack's NBL
Breakers Respond in Style to Upset Hawks
The New Zealand Breakers delivered the bounce back performance they were after to dominate the Illawarra Hawks early and then hold them out late for a 90-67 Wednesday night NBL victory.
The two teams were locking horns at Hobart's MyState Bank Arena without a crowd in attendance with the Breakers desperate to bounce back from a poor showing in the same building to the Tasmania JackJumpers on Sunday.
The Hawks were trying to string wins together too coming off a win in Cairns on Saturday, but it was all the Breakers early on and it was all about their energy.
No one player took over for them, instead every player was delivering and as a result, they led by 24 points when Next Star Ousmane Dieng scored midway through the third quarter.
However, the Breakers have been a little shaky with the lead on a few occasions this season and the Hawks threw everything into a comeback. It was birthday boy Antonius Cleveland who led the charge with 16 points in the third quarter alone after a scoreless first half.
Tyler Harvey then drained consecutive threes to start the fourth term and the Hawks were within eight with all the momentum.
Dan Shamir pulled the coaching move of the night, though. He brought on Rasmus Bach who had only played a total of 71 minutes all season so far. He had missed his seven three-point attempts, but that soon changed.
He hit two threes in quick succession to put New Zealand up 16 to stave off Illawarra's fightback while he also locked in on Harvey to ensure he didn’t turn those two threes into a match-winning patch of play.
From there, the Breakers closed out strongly to win by 23 with Yanni Wetzell finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds, Peyton Siva 14 points, Jeremiah Martin 12 points, Will McDowell-White 12 points and three assists, and Finn Delany seven points and 13 rebounds.
Breakers coach Dan Shamir couldn’t have been happier with the response his team produced.
"Isn't it amazing to see the same team put together two different games. Today was definitely unique to defend a good team like the Hawks and to keep them under 70 points," Shamir said.
"It's all about the simplest things in the game and just the attitude, mentality and toughness. We rebounded the ball, defended and built a lead and kept it. It was totally two different teams from one game to the next.
"To know that we can do that is great and it's also great to know that our team can respond like that. Now we just have to do it on a consistent basis."
It was a night to forget in the end for the Hawks with shooting 42 per cent from the floor, being outrebounded by 11 and turning the ball over 15 times.
Tyler Harvey top-scored with 17 points while Antonius Cleveland scored 16, Justinian Jessup 10 and Duop Reath 10.
Hawks coach Brian Goorjian knows his team can't afford many more performances like this.
"I'm taking it as alarm bells right now. We were playing a team that has been struggling after we played Melbourne and Perth in three of the last four games. I'd say something has to happen here pretty quick or we are in deep, deep trouble," Goorjian said.
"On the defensive end, I thought we made up some ground in the last game but this was a setback tonight. We need to continue to work at that and we're not going to get where we need to go unless we solve that problem. I don’t have an answer for you tonight and I'm kind of shellshocked to be truthful."
The Breakers were blown out of the water in their return game on Sunday to the JackJumpers and it was a bit of a slow start again on Wednesday. When Duop Reath converted a three-point play, the Hawks led 9-4.
New Zealand responded strongly including an and-one from Finn Delany, three ball from Will McDowell-White and then Hugo Besson capped a 10-2 run for them to lead 14-11.
Peyton Siva returned after missing Sunday's game and came off the bench to give an instant spark with five quick points to help the Breakers to a 26-20 edge at quarter-time.
Jeremiah Martin and Siva then helped put New Zealand out to a double-figure advantage to open the second quarter. It was a remarkable opening to the term with a 19-4 run for the Breakers who turned that six-point lead into a break of 19 points.
Ousmane Dieng also hit a three ball heading to half-time with the Breakers leading 52-33. They were doing it by committee too with seven players all scoring at least five points and they shot 57 per cent from the field opposed just 42 from Illawarra.
McDowell-White knocked down a triple to open the second half and extend the New Zealand lead to 22. While it was Antonius Cleveland trying to spark the Hawks, New Zealand continued to have the answers and the lead grew to 24.
However, Cleveland was starting to feel it and his energy was becoming infectious as he put on 16 points himself in the quarter. He helped Illawarra to finish the third term with a 9-2 streak to be within 13 at three quarter-time.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes brought the Hawks within 11 to start the fourth quarter before a pair of threes to Tyler Harvey had the margin to eight.
Dan Shamir then pulled a masterstroke by bringing on Rasmus Bach. He locked in defensively on Harvey and then up the other end, knocked down two massive threes that was enough for the Breakers to steady and go on to win by 23.
The Breakers will now take the Adelaide 36ers spot against the Sydney Kings on Sunday with the Hawks returning to Wollongong to host the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Monday.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 10
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 90 (Wetzell 22, Siva 14, Martin 12, McDowell-White 12)
ILLAWARRA HAWKS 67 (Harvey 17, Cleveland 16, Jessup 10, Reath 10)