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Phoenix shoot themselves to NBL Cup prizemoney

The South East Melbourne Phoenix have won themselves a share of the NBL Cup prizemoney after claiming all seven points on offer to beat the New Zealand Breakers 103-89 on Sunday.

The first job for the Phoenix was just to win the game at Melbourne's John Cain Arena on Sunday on the final day of the NBL Cup to give themselves a shot of a top three finish.

They ended up doing much better than that and won every quarter against an exhausted Breakers outfit to claim all seven points and to rocket into second position on the NBL Cup standings.

And that's where they will now stay with the final game between Perth and Adelaide not influencing things so the Phoenix end up with a 5-3 record on the back of winning their last three games against Melbourne, Cairns and New Zealand in the space of the last five days.

That means they take out the $100,000 cheque for finishing second, but even more pleasing will be the form they are now in with Ryan Broekhoff still finding his feet, and with Keifer Sykes, Dane Pineau and Adam Gibson all to still return.

The Phoenix controlled Sunday's contest, their first against the Breakers this season, virtually from the outset with the most pleasing aspect without doubt the number of contributors they had.

Mitch Creek was superb again and so efficient for 21 points, four rebounds and four assists on 8/12 shooting with 3/3 from deep while Ben Moore hit his first eight field goals on his way to 17 points, five rebounds and three steals.

Kyle Adnam continued to thrive as a starter in Sykes' injury absence with another 21 points and seven assists while knocking down 3/4 from long range. Rookie centre Yanni Wetzell finished with 15 points as well.

Cam Gliddon had another 10 points, four rebounds and four assists with Izayah Le'afa impressive again with eight points, three boards and three assists, and Reuben Te Rangi eight points, three rebounds and three steals.

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell wasn’t too worried about motivating his players in terms of winning the NBL Cup money, but was delighted with how they did execute.

"I wasn’t worried about the money. That's going to get me a slap upside my head from the GM, but really we want to build," Mitchell said. 

We've struggled with our consistency at times during games and there's been fluctuations. So for us it's more about just executing both sides of the ball every possession and trying to build that way, and if you are successful with that then these spoils that we're talking of will just take care of themselves. 

"It didn’t really occur to me until late in the fourth to do anything about trying to protect that lead to get as many points as we could."

With Rob Loe, Corey Webster and Lamar Patterson still out, and new signings Jeremy Kendle and William McDowell-White not yet available, the Breakers ran with a virtual six-man rotation once again.

With it being a third game in five days, they were fighting fatigue but never stopped battling.

Finn Delany backed up a career night on Friday with another 24 points and six rebounds while Tom Abercrombie had another 23 points while drilling 3/6 from three-point range.

Tai Webster was good when on the floor with 16 points and five assists on 3/5 shooting from deep although he did turn it over eight times. But foul trouble limited him to 27 minutes.

Colton Iverson fought hard for 10 points and eight rebounds with Rasmus Bach chiming in with three triples for nine points.

Breakers coach Dan Shamir was proud of the way his team handled the NBL Cup and given they are going to have to remain in Australia, he probably wishes it could continue.

"We liked it. Obviously we had a lot of tough things to fight through but we liked the hub and like being in here," Shamir said. 

"Towards we end we started hearing a lot of teams have already had enough and they want to go home, but for us it's the best situation we've been in.

"The schedule was tough for us and missing a few players the last three games in five days that showed a little bit, but we just had to fight through. There are a few things we need to correct and do better obviously but our players fought and tried to execute the game plan, but couldn’t quite get those last two."

Tai Webster and Jarrad Weeks came out hot dropping threes for New Zealand but Cam Gliddon, Kyle Adnam and Mitch Creek responded in kind for South East Melbourne. But still the Breakers led 18-15 until the Phoenix ended the quarter 14 points to five with Izayah Le'afa draining a pair of triples to give them the 29-23 edge.

The hot shooting from both teams continued in the second quarter and it was the Phoenix remaining on top heading into half-time leading 53-46 having shot a scorching 68 per cent from the field. The Breakers weren’t far behind going at 53 per cent.

Despite two threes from Webster to start the second half to blow out some foul problem frustration, the Phoenix began to pull away from the Breakers. Ryan Broekhoff nailed his only points of the game before coming off with a tight hamstring as well.

The Phoenix ended the third term on a 17-8 tear to be up 13 at the end of three, and the Breakers never really threatened in the fourth with South East Melbourne cracking the century and winning by 14.

The Phoenix remain in Melbourne now ahead of hosting the Adelaide 36ers next Saturday while the Breakers return to Brisbane to play the Bullets later that same day.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 9
NBL CUP WEEK 4

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 103 (Creek 21, Adnam 21, Moore 17)

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 89 (Delany 24, Abercrombie 23, T Webster 16) 

POINTS AWARDED – SE Melbourne Phoenix 7, NZ Breakers 0

BOX SCORE 

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