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R19 Report: Breakers throttle shorthanded Melbourne

With three of United’s biggest hitters left to rest up in Melbourne, the first leg of Friday’s critical double-header was a no-contest, with the home side easily notching a 100-63 win. The 37-point margin was just one point shy of matching the biggest gap in the NBL this season (Illawarra v Townsville in Round 8). Melbourne coach Dean Demopolous choose to leave top scorers Chris Goulding, Daniel Kickert and Hakim Warrick in Melbourne and it showed, with fiery point guard Kyle Adnam posting a team-high 16 points (the only Melbourne player to break double figures) after clocking 28 minutes of court time off the bench. Breakers coach Dean Vickerman said he had heard that Goulding wasn’t coming, but it wasn’t until the shoot around that he was aware Kickert and Warrick were also missing from the squad. “I felt then we had the advantage on the boards and inside and we worked to also restrict the three-pointers, but for us it was like a finals night tonight,” he said. United coach Dean Demopolous said leaving the three players at home was a strategic decision based on how they felt. “They’ve had a few aches and pains and we had the opportunity to give them the chance to recover a bit,” he said. While Melbourne cannot be budged from their top rung on the ladder, the win was crucial for the Breakers to retain their fourth placing and make it to the Finals – a prospect which just one month ago seemed unlikely during a slump which saw them lose six games in a row. The game marked the final regular season game for coach Dean Vickerman after nine seasons with the club, and chief executive Richard Clarke after 13 seasons. The Breakers – which registered their second 100-point game of the season – came out firing from the start, putting first points on the board and quickly gaining a seven-point lead. Finishing the first quarter up six, the Breakers stretched that to a comfortable 19 points to finish the first half 53-34 on the back of 68 per cent shooting from the field and 71 per cent from downtown. The home fans were on their feet throughout large parts of the second half as their side kept the foot to the floor. Game-high scorer Charles Jackson grabbed a double-double with 18 points (14 in the second half) and 11 rebounds, while Cedric Jackson was in top form with 17 points, six dimes and five boards. The game provided coach Dean Vickerman with opportunities to use all 12 players with only Development Player Finn Delaney failing to put points on the board. Whether the Breakers keep fourth spot and head to the post-season will become a lot clearer following the Hawks-36ers game later tonight. It’s now up to the results of the two Adelaide games, with the Sixers needing a win in both games to knock the Breakers out of the fourth spot. The Breakers and Melbourne face off again at Hisense Arena on Sunday night, and if the Breakers retain fourth, they will face Melbourne at least four games in a row, with the first of the Finals game on Thursday in Melbourne.   NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 100 (Charles Jackson 18, Cedric Jackson 17, Webster 17) MELBOURNE UNITED 63 (Adnam 16, Patton 9, Hill 8)   BOX SCORE
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