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Sixers make statement, defeat NZ

The Adelaide 36ers have sounded a warning alarm to the competition tonight after smashing the reigning Champions, the New Zealand Breakers 90-71 on their home court of Titanium Security Arena to open the 2015/16 NBL season. After going under the radar during the off-season, heading into the first NBL contest all eyes were on Adelaide’s new imports Ebi Ere and Kenyon McNeail, but it was ultimately their home grown recruit that stole the show. In his debut, rookie Matt Hodgson shot at 70 per cent to earn 18 points, nine rebounds to go with three monster swats on the way to the Sixers’ big 21-point victory. The former Melbourne United development player produced the 36ers’ third best debut by an Aussie, his 18 points only behind Brock Motum’s 28 last season and Aaron’s Bruce’s 22 in 2008.
Adelaide 36ers head coach Joey Wright said the team won’t be getting ahead of themselves, but his debutant impressed him. “I didn’t think I’d get 18 [points] and 9 [rebounds] from him. Not at all. But we know his potential,” said Wright. “His defensive prowess out there on the court is going to allow him to stay around. He still needs some fitness and get some strength on his legs but it was great to see him out there.” After an even first term, the Sixers’ unleashed two devastating 13-0 runs in the second quarter while restricting New Zealand to just nine points on 2-of-20 shooting. The Breakers’ first half tally was the second lowest in the club’s history, while Adelaide’s 25-point buffer also New Zealand’s second worst interval deficit. In his highly-anticipated return, Ebi Ere managed to notch 11 points in the second period, stroking his third triple from three attempts to close the half. Breakers head coach Dean Vickerman was disappointed in the team’s first NBL game since winning the 2015 NBL Championship in April. “We got dominated for a quarter, especially on the boards. They smashed us,” said Vickerman. “At the same time, Ebi [Ere] was able to get going and make some tough shots during that period as well. They were attacking, they were getting to the free-throw line and that was the game.” The Breakers were also up against reliable captain Adam Gibson with 11 points, eight assists and six boards while Sixers’ centre Daniel Johnson made a difference with 15 points and eight rebounds. Vickerman said despite being down their “big three,” with Abercrombie and Pledger out due to injury and the sharp shooting Corey Webster in New Orleans, the result didn’t reflect the talent on the floor. “We have no excuses,” he said. “This is a team we bought here and we believed that we’re good enough. If everybody played to their abilities to win, they could be back on Sunday. They may not be. But this group can be better and this group can win basketball games.” Next, the Adelaide 36ers will welcome the Perth Wildcats on Saturday night, before the New Zealand Breakers head home to host the Townsville Crocodiles on Sunday. ADELAIDE 36ERS 90 (Hodgson 18, Johnson 15, Ere 13) NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 71 (Ce Jackson 14, Bartlett 13, Ch Jackson 12) TOMORROW: The Cairns Taipans take on the Illawarra Hawks at the Cairns Convention Centre. Live on FOX SPORTS News 500 or via the NBL app from 7:30pm AEDT. BOX SCORE
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