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R18 Report: Spirited Breakers roar home, end Snakes season

[ooyala code="VneHZxMDE6ufobY_JPIz0bbHeLbMfSiI" player_id="d5b993422b3e4b5ebd61f9e19ca2a6a5" width="1920" height="1080" auto="true"] Cool heads and experience under pressure came to the fore as the New Zealand Breakers kept their Finals hopes alive, beating the Cairns Taipans 85-74 at North Shore Events Centre. The final score line did not reflect the tight play, with both teams fighting for points in the must-win game. The Breakers opened the scoring with a tidy three-pointer from Corey Webster and stretched out to a nine-point lead in quick time, but the Taipans fought back to outscore the Breakers 20-6 in the five minutes before quarter time on the back of triples from Mark Worthington and Cam Gliddon. Coming out firing in the second quarter, the New Zealanders clawed their way back from a 12-point deficit to reduce the Taipans’ lead to just one after Webster’s three on the buzzer. Trading buckets in the third quarter left the Breakers one point ahead, and an intense final quarter saw the home team secure the win with Mika Vukona battling for the rebounds while Cedric and Charles Jackson brought energy and athleticism to play – grabbing key offensive rebounds. New Zealand’s key players all contributed strongly with 62 of the final 85 points shared among four players – Tom Abercrombie taking top scorer with 19, while Webster notched up 18, Cedric Jackson posting a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists, and Charles Jackson scoring 10 points. The hard-fought victory is ominous signs for the rest of the League, who may have counted out the defending champs following six-straight defeats and rumours of unrest within the group. Post-game, Taipans coach Aaron Fearne pointed toward some missed opportunities and lack of spark in the fourth quarter. “We needed to win to keep our season alive and basically so did they,” he said. “It was pretty physical – we had some opportunities in the first half and we gave it away too easily. We ran out of juice.” Breakers coach Dean Vickerman said good teamwork and communication had made the difference to their game either side of the main break. “We made some errors at the start of the game and we talked about discipline at the break,” Vickerman said. “When we were 12 down in the second quarter, we got a timeout and showed some composure and started moving the ball better. I thought that was a big part of the game - the adjustment we made during that period." Vickerman added that the 19 assists in the game and four players in double figures (two others registering eight), showed that his team was sharing the ball around more and communicating better. “There’s still improvement in those areas, but there is more focus,” he said. Centre Alex Pledger added that the team has been playing in “playoff mode” for the last three games. “We’ve been in situations like this before where we’ve had games that we must win,” said the seven-footer. The Taipans travel back to North Queensland for a final Reptile Rumble in Townsville on Thursday, while the Breakers now face a season-defining double-header against Melbourne at North Shore Events Centre on Friday night and in Melbourne on Sunday.  NZ BREAKERS 85 (Abercrombie 19, Webster 18, Cedric Jackson 15) CAIRNS TAIPANS 74 (Craig 15, Gliddon 13, Worthington 10) BOX SCORE
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