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GAME REPORT

Kings Made to Earn 12th Straight Over Breakers

The New Zealand Breakers put their winning streak in jeopardy for a while in Bendigo on Tuesday night, but the Sydney Kings were able to do enough to make it 12 straight with the 76-70 victory.

The Kings brought their 11-game winning streak into Bendigo Basketball Stadium but found the going tough at different times on Tuesday night.

The Breakers started well with the game's first four points before finishing the first quarter strongly only for the Kings to turn things around to lead by 11 at the half-time break.

New Zealand was up for the fight, though, and scored 11 of the first 14 points to start the second half to make a game of it, but Jaylen Adams warmed to the task to run the show for Sydney and with Xavier Cooks impressive inside, the Kings ended up winning by six.

It's a 12th straight win for Sydney to retain second position leading into a massive Thursday night battle with the third placed Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong. While it's an eighth consecutive loss for New Zealand, they can be proud of their battling performance.

Jaylen Adams had a tough shooting start to the game but still delivered 19 points, six rebounds and five assists despite his 6/17 from the floor. DJ Vasiljevic added 16 points and six rebounds for the Kings, Xavier Cooks 12 points and seven boards, and Makur Maker 10 points and five rebounds.

Kings coach Chase Buford was happy to fight out the win, but was quick to pay tribute to what the Breakers did not only in the game, but what they have sacrificed the past two seasons.

"They're a good team and Dan's a hell of a coach. They did a great job on their switches tonight which I think really stagnated us," Shamir said. 

"We really got stagnant with the basketball and that's never a good way to attack the coverage, but credit to them they made it really tough for us. 

"If I said the other night wasn’t a grind out, this one definitely was a grind it out win. I'm proud to get a win when maybe we weren’t at our best, but credit to New Zealand. I feel for Dan and their group so much for what they've been though. 

"What they've done for the league to keep the competition up and to be as competitive as they have been, they deserve a reward at the end of the tunnel. I can't give them enough credit for what they've been doing."

Yanni Wetzell continued his outstanding form for the Breakers with another 22 points and 14 rebounds.

Finn Delany hit three early threes on his way to 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals for New Zealand with Hugo Besson adding 16 points.

Breakers coach Dan Shamir was rightfully happy with the defensive effort to hold the Kings to just the 76 points, but ultimately his team just didn’t shoot well enough to win.

"It goes without saying but it was one of our better games defensively," Shamir said.

"Yanni had a great game rebounding with a lot of great rebounds in traffic and also played the right way offensively many minutes of the game to create a lot of good looks. With the way the Kings defend we were able to create space, and create shots.

"We didn’t make our shots and you can't really control that. Maybe we could have created more cuts for Yanni like we had in a few moments and settled less for threes, but the way they defend you need to make some shots. We just didn’t make them today."

It was tough going early on for both teams but New Zealand did score the opening four points through Yanni Wetzell and Ousmane Dieng. But Dieng then picked up a second foul and finally after almost four minutes, Sydney got its first score at the foul line thanks to Jaylen Adams.

It was the Breakers turn to go cold and DJ Vasiljevic hit from deep for Sydney and Jarell Martin scored inside to cap a 7-0 run. Eventually New Zealand scored again courtesy of Hugo Besson, but Angus Glover responded from beyond the arc to keep the Kings on top.

However, New Zealand ended the first term with a three-point barrage beginning with two from Finn Delany. Will McDowell-White then also hit as did Besson and the Breakers were up 20-17 after one.

Sydney then came out with the opening six points of the second quarter and that turned into an 11-1 run as they turned a three-point quarter-time deficit into eight-point advantage.

They kept going leading into half-time as well including Vasiljevic nailing another from downtown to put the Kings up 41-30 at the major break.

The Breakers came out an inspired outfit to start the second half with the opening eight points including triples from Delany and Peyton Siva. Vasiljevic hit a steadying three for Sydney but the Breakers weren't done. 

Besson hit another three and they got within two points a couple of times, but couldn’t quite take the lead and a drought breaking three from Adams helped Sydney cling to a 58-53 advantage at three quarter-time.

Adams' playmaking abilities were on show in the fourth quarter to ensure Sydney did enough to get the job done and end up winning by six.

The Breakers will now take on the Tasmania JackJumpers on Friday in Hobart while the Kings prepare for a monstrous clash with the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Thursday.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 19

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 70 (Wetzell 22, Delany 18, Besson 16)

SYDNEY KINGS 76 (Adams 19, Vasiljevic 16, Cooks 12) 

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