Hungry Jack's NBL
Breakers Turn It On To Keep Spark Alive
The New Zealand Breakers might still have left their run too late, but the top teams will breathe a sigh of relief if they don't take part in #NBL20 Finals after Friday's 113-89 thumping of the Adelaide 36ers at Spark Arena.
The Breakers are now playing some scintillating but well-coached basketball and it's clear that this group that Dan Shamir has to work with, with his game plan now implemented how he hoped is capable of some special things.
New Zealand has now won eight of its last 11 games and they do remain an outside finals chance should things fall their way and they win their remaining matches against Illawarra, Brisbane and South East Melbourne.
With the basketball they are playing, you wouldn’t put a ceiling on how far they could go either and it was quite the impressive offensive onslaught they put on Adelaide on Friday night in their final game of the season at Spark Arena.
The Sixers were fighting to keep their season alive too and Daniel Johnson kept them close in the first half, but it wouldn’t last. Adelaide has now lost three straight and at 11-14, their season's done.
The Breakers virtually got whatever they wanted offensively illustrated by their final numbers of shooting 57 from the field and 54 per cent from deep on the back of 20/37. They shared the ball well too for 24 assists while only having eight turnovers.
Captain Tom Abercrombie showed that he has plenty more to add to his 328-game NBL career by leading the way with 31 points and three assists including a stunning 7/11 from three-point range.
"We obviously wanted to come out and win, and to come out and do it in that fashion was really good," Abercrombie said.
"We had some things that we wanted to do tactically to try and slow them down. We didn’t quite get the results in the first half but over the course of the game we started to see some results.
"They're a fast-paced, physical team and I thought we did a really good job defensively and then at the other end, we dissected their defence and got whatever we wanted. It was a fun night."
Finn Delany continued to highlight his importance to the Breakers with 21 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks while shooting 8/11 from the field.
Sek Henry added 18 points and eight assists with Scotty Hopson contributing 13 points and Jordan Ngatai eight which including a rim-rattling dunk after a crafty steal.
The longer the game went, the more the wheels came off for Adelaide. Johnson kept them in it with 20 first-half points as he finished with 24 for the game to go with nine rebounds and three assists.
Jack McVeigh tried to lift the Sixers with 20 points and three steals while hitting 4/6 from beyond the arc while Jerome Randle finished with 10 points and six assists, Daniel Dillon nine points, five rebounds and four assists, and Anthony Drmic eight points and four boards.
Sixers coach Joey Wright was happy enough with what his team produced offensively, but allowing the Breakers to do as they pleased was never going to be a winning formula.
"We shot 50 per cent from the field and 40 from the three, and typically when you shoot that well you win. But there two ends of the court and you have to get down and play some defence at the other end," Wright said.
"We allowed them to get going too easy and once a guy hits two or three shots, he starts to feel good about themselves. They shot even better than we did on the back of that."
Daniel Johnson started the game on fire for the 36ers with two threes in the first two minutes and 12 points in the first six minutes. But the Breakers withstood that to still lead by having a bigger range of scorers and they led 25-20 after one.
New Zealand threatened to blow it out in the second term going on a 12-2 run to lead by 13, but Johnson once again led an Adelaide fightback and when he hit a circus shot on the buzzer, the half-time deficit for the Sixers was only four.
It didn’t take long for it blow out in the third period though. Sek Henry, Tom Abercrombie, Finn Delany, Tom Vodanovich and then Jarrad Weeks all hit triples to push the Breakers lead to 19. Then when Weeks hit another, it was beyond 20.
Even Jordan Ngatai converted from deep on three quarter-time to keep the Breakers up 20. It was an old fashioned shootout with little pressure on down the stretch but it was party time inside Spark Arena for the home team and it was their captain who took full advantage.
He nailed three triples in successive trips up the floor late in the piece to take his personal tall over 30 and to keep the lead near that mark too before it settled at 24.
Both teams back up to play on Sunday with the Breakers on the road to the Illawarra Hawks while the 36ers host South East Melbourne Phoenix.
NBL ROUND 18
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 113 (Abercrombie 31, Delany 21, Henry 18)
ADELAIDE 36ERS 89 (Johnson 24, McVeigh 20, Randle 10)