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R10 Report: Vukona sparks Breakers comeback over Kings

[ooyala code="NhOG5neTr5IN3sHjr1tMyM6YJWUfR8-M" player_id="d5b993422b3e4b5ebd61f9e19ca2a6a5" width="1920" height="1080" auto="true"] New Zealand put in a stellar second half comeback to record a 96-84 win over a dogged Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on Friday night, but the game was most memorable for a Breakers nation favourite. Long-time Breaker Mika Vukona high scored for the home side with 18 points taking him over the 2500-point milestone as New Zealand had to fight hard to beat the bottom-placed Kings by 12 points. Sydney, with new import Damion James making his debut as a replacement for Josh Childress, were outstanding in the first half leading by eight at the break. However, the Breakers steadied at the interval and put together a strong second half outscoring the Kings 59-39 to remain unbeaten at home this season. Vukona led the way for New Zealand with 18 points and 11 rebounds with Cedric Jackson particularly effective in the second half finishing with 17 points, 11 assists and five boards. Despite behind hindered by foul trouble, Charles Jackson had 14 points and nine rebounds as well with Tom Abercrombie contributing 11 points and eight boards, and the returning Tai Wesley 11 points and five rebounds. Corey Webster shot just 4-of-19 on his way to 10 points with Sydney's Marcus Thornton doing a terrific defensive job. Thornton scored 17 points and pulled in seven rebounds as well for the Kings. Jason Cadee top-scored for Sydney with 19 points while Julian Khazzouh contributed 15 points and seven rebounds, and Tom Garlepp 14 points. James looked impressive despite flying across the world this week with seven points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. The game was being dictated early by the Kings who battled their way to a 21-14 first quarter lead with big man Khazzouh posting nine points in the opening stanza. Khazzouh was able to dominate inside the paint with Breakers import Charles Jackson sitting on the bench with two early fouls. It was much of the same in the second quarter as the Kings extended their first quarter lead. Khazzouh looked determined to establish dominance in the key and there were no Breakers willing to step up to the challenge. On the offensive front, the Breakers' much vaunted back court of Webster (two points) and Cedric Jackson (three points) shot a combined 2-of-12 at the half. The third quarter presented a big shift in momentum as the Breakers erased the half-time deficit to lead by three midway through the period. They were able to wrestle any momentum the Kings had with determined team effort, scoring 26 points in the third. "I think the crowd gave them a huge lift, they did what championship teams do. They turn the pressure up, they were more aggressive on the boards and all credit to them," Kings coach Joe Connelly said. The Breakers would have had a talking to at the half from coach Dean Vickerman about their lack of effort on the defensive end. Their intensity guarding the rim stepped up with 53 rebounds. "We were pretty sluggish in the first half, that's the way they wanted the game," Vickerman said. "It just took us awhile to find our flow offensively. What we tried to do in the second half was generate more pace and play a little faster, that didn't allow them enough time to set their defence." The Breakers took more control with Cedric Jackson turning on the jets - with the highlight play of the night being a roof-raising dunk by Charles Jackson off a behind the back pass. The Breakers opened a double-digit lead and ended up winning by 12. The Breakers will take on the Illawarra Hawks on December 20 and the Kings take on Perth this Sunday in the last ever game at the Kingdome. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 96 (Vukona 18, Cedric Jackson 17, Charles Jackson 14) SYDNEY KINGS 84 (Cadee 19, Thornton 17, Khazzouh 15) BOX SCORE 
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