News

SF1 Report: Battle-hardened Breakers ambush Melbourne

The New Zealand Breakers are a step closer to making another NBL Grand Final, the reigning champs holding off a spirited Melbourne United to win Game 1 of their Swisse semi-finals series 91-82 at Hisense Arena on Thursday night. Having defeated Melbourne on both sides of the Tasman in the season’s final round, the Breakers produced an early ambush but found themselves behind at half-time as Melbourne hit their straps. However, the Breakers returned fire as Cedric Jackson found his range – the guard’s 20 points helping New Zealand out to a 12-point lead with just under three minutes remaining in the game. Jackson almost turned villain in the dying stages as he missed twice from the charity stripe with Melbourne shrinking the margin down to six in the final minute. But a series of missed baskets from United ultimately helped New Zealand hold on. Breakers coach Dean Vickerman was impressed by dominant performances from big men Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger, who notched up 13 and 12 rebounds respectively to give New Zealand control of possession, but he saved special praise for his lead guard Jackson. “He just loves those moments and I thought he walked out of the awards dinner with a little edge last night and I thought he had something to prove,” Vickerman said post-game. “Melbourne came out after half time and I think hit three three-balls really quickly in that third quarter. But there was no panic from us, which showed that finals experience. They just don’t worry about the last play and just keep looking forward and I was really happy the way we closed out the game.” While Jackson and Tom Abercrombie (16 points) starred for the visitors, the NBL’s best Sixth Man, Hakim Warrick, produced arguably his best display of the season in a losing side, posting a double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds. It was a nervous United that started the game, as the hosts became their own worst enemy in the first quarter, repeatedly missing long-range shots and turning the ball over time and again. The Breakers cashed in big time, the reigning NBL champions hitting an 11-point scoring run midway through the first period that saw them lead by 17 points when Cedric Jackson tipped in with just under four minutes to go. Warrick’s introduction quickly changed the game’s momentum as United rallied to only trail by 11 at the first break. The hosts took that momentum into the second period as Warrick ignited, the 33-year-old former NBA forward defying his age to claim one towering rebound after another before racing down the other end for points, scoring nine in the quarter. By the time Warrick had subbed out late in the second term, his efforts had helped Melbourne go on a 12-0 scoring run that saw them claim the lead for the first time; the hosts leading 41-38 at the main break. Stephen Holt’s long-range three extended Melbourne’s lead out to seven early in the third quarter, but that was the cue for Jackson to impose himself on the encounter – the live-wire guard hitting nine points for the quarter as the visitors wrested back the advantage to lead 62-58 at the last change. In a physical finale, the crowd were left disappointed as New Zealand executed the better down the stretch. Several marginal calls went against United and particularly Warrick and Chris Goulding, who finished with 23 points in his 200th NBL match. And while Warrick posted another seven points and seven rebounds in the last period, his efforts weren’t enough to get Melbourne over the line. Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos wasn’t impressed by physical treatment dished out on Warrick in the final period, but said his team now just simply had to get on with the job. “We’re going to strap it up, we’re going to go back in there and put our head in the lion’s mouth and see if we can take its teeth out,” Demopoulos declared. United now head across the Tasman to face the Breakers at Vector Arena in Game 2 on Saturday night.   NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 91 (Cedric Jackson 20, Abercrombie 16, Webster 14) MELBOURNE UNITED 82 (Warrick 24, Goulding 23, Holt 13) BOX SCORE
NEWS

Report: Makur Maker Signs NBA Deal

21 hours ago

NBL23

Analysis: Breakout Candidates

21 hours ago

NEWS

Humphries Drawn to United "Prestige"

21 hours ago

FREE AGENCY

36ers Add “Extra Edge” to Roster

21 hours ago

NEWS

NBL Trading Cards Return With Topps

22 hours ago

GAME REPORT

Gaels Overrun Phoenix in OT Thriller

1 day ago

FREE AGENCY

Hawks Welcome Emerging Point Guard

1 day ago

WORLD CUP

Jackson Makes Fairytale Opals Return

1 day ago

FREE AGENCY

Phoenix Add Promising Local Forward

1 day ago

GAME REPORT

St Mary's Beat United in NBL23 Teaser

2 days ago

LaMelo Ball Leads Hawks, Taipans Beat Bullets Again

16 September 2019

Fourth Place Frustration for Boomers in China

15 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal Game | Australia v France Preview

15 September 2019

Prather Shines In United's Big Win, Taipans Smash Bullets

14 September 2019

Starting Five: World Cup Heartbreak

14 September 2019

Spain Again Breaks Boomers Hearts in Double OT

13 September 2019

Watch Live | Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United

13 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Semi-Final | Australia v Spain Preview

13 September 2019

Starting Five: Boomers Two Wins from Gold

12 September 2019

Australia Advance to World Cup Final Four

12 September 2019

NBL Partners

Naming Rights
Major Partners
Broadcast & Media Partners
Profile Partners
Suppliers
Associates