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R18 Report: Cedric stars, Breakers keep season alive

Jerome Randle’s importance to Adelaide’s cause was highlighted as the Sixers gave up the crucial season series to New Zealand in a Cedric Jackson-inspired 106-84 thumping at Titanium Security Arena. After suffering a knee injury in his previous game, the League-leading scorer left a gaping hole in a clunky Adelaide team that became a prop in Jackson’s feature film. Jackson was cool as a cucumber in the do-or-die game, posting an extravagant stat line of 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Adelaide had no answer for Jackson in speed or ability as he truly took advantage of the Sixers’ void at point guard. In a finals-like atmosphere the Breakers controlled the momentum early, as their meticulous ball control and hot shooting landed them a 28-17 advantage on 52 per cent from the field. Player tandem of Jackson and Corey Webster (28 points) combined for 19 first-quarter points as Adelaide looked lost offensively without the presence of Randle. Veteran Ebi Ere (nine points) struggled under increased limelight, whilst 200-game milestone man Daniel Johnson (12 points, five rebounds) was largely ineffective, failing to register a bucket in the first quarter. Much of the same ensued in the second as New Zealand stretched their lead to 22, smoking from beyond the yard shooting a combined 41 per cent three-point shooting for the match. The hosts’ offence continued to sputter, shooting 38 per cent and turning it over eight times by the half. In stark contrast, Cedric Jackson continued connecting from outside as his side held sway with a 56-36after 20 minutes. Deflated Sixers coach Joey Wright was disappointed in his group after the match. “We didn’t play defence and probably should have rested other guys with injury tonight,” he said. Replacement floor general Adam Gibson (14 points, seven assists) dialled in a triple early in the third, as he became the first Adelaide player to score in double figures. Along with Gibson it was Mitch Creek’s 16 points and Anthony Petrie’s flirtation with a double-double (13 points and nine rebounds) that kept the Sixers on the cusp. A last quarter surge put some sweat on a Kiwi brow or two as Adelaide drew within 11 and had coach Vickerman animated on the sidelines, expecting a late Sixers run. “It’s always going to happen, the home team is always going to string something together and they got open layups, but we steadied,” he said. New Zealand has kept hopes of a fifth championship in six years alive, placing some of the onus back on Adelaide as they duel for the fourth and final playoff spot. Adelaide has the harder task, as they must overcome Perth and Illawarra away from home – still minus Randle – to have any chance. The Breakers on the other hand have a home and away double against League-leaders Melbourne United to conclude their campaign. With a tight finish sure to ensue, both teams face Cairns this week, Adelaide at the Snake pit on Friday and the Breakers at home on Sunday.   NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 106 (Cedric Jackson 31, Webster 28, Pledger 17) ADELAIDE 36ERS 84 (Creek 16, Gibson 14, Petrie 13) BOX SCORE
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