Revenge is a dish best served cold but the Breakers' fourth
quarter against Wollongong tonight was as blistering as they
After falling to the Hawks five nights ago in Australia, the
same opposition who earlier in the season handed the Breakers
their only home loss, retribution was squarely on the
Breakers' minds at the NSEC.
And they got just that, winning 82-74 after a scorching final
quarter which saw the league leaders turn a tight two-point
lead into a eight-point win, thanks in large to Tom
Abercrombie's 11 points in the final period.
The Breakers failed to play at the vengeful best for most of
the game, but that mattered little in the end as they
extended their lead over Perth at the top of the Australian
With just six games in the regular season remaining, and only
two at their North Shore fortress, tonight's win was hugely
important if the Breakers (16-6) are to pip Perth (14-7) for
the minor premiership.
It was also imperative mentally as, despite the Hawks (6-15)
being well out of play-off contention, the defending
champions' lustre would have been diminished if a team of
Wollongong's calibre so definitively owned them throughout
In the end, the season series between the sides was split at
two, owing a lot to the Breakers' shackling of Hawks' forward
Oscar Forman. A former Breaker, Forman torched his old team
for 29 points last weekend, but was held to just five points
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis said an all-around improvement
on defence was the reason for Forman's failure to replicate
his heroics from last weekend.
"We just paid more attention to him. Obviously we were aware
of the scout _ the scout is always the same on Oscar _ you
don't let him catch and shoot. We just executed a bit better
Abercrombie finished with a game-high 25, while point guard
Cedric Jackson had 20 points to go with a game-high 10
rebounds. Lemanis pointed to a period of 10 minutes either
side of the final break as the turning point, and it was in
this period Abercrombie stepped up.
"Tom has the ability to do that. We needed to be more
aggressive going to the rim and take our opportunities to
find driving lanes. Certainly in that second half, the switch
went off in Tom and he started to get aggressive.''
Aside from Abercrombie's outburst and Forman's
ineffectiveness, Lemanis believed the main difference between
the contrasting results in the double header was his side's
bad reaction to a loss.
"Some things we did about changing the way we were going to
play them, guys did a good job of buying into that and
committed to the cause for the length of the game.''
The Breakers had no problem shackling Forman early in the
game, with some tighter and more physical guarding from Mika
Vukona ensuring the Breakers' chief destroyer was held
without a shot in the first half. Despite Forman being shut
down, the Hawks still went to the opening break with a
Midway through the second that lead was out to eight, the
largest of the night for either side, but the Breakers
managed to cut the deficit to two by the major intermission
with the sides' similarities extending beyond the 40-38
The Breakers shot 48 per cent from the floor in the first
half, slightly better than the Hawks' 47 per cent. Both sides
had a feeble four assists, while Wollongong shaded the
turnover count (8-7).
But the Breakers of old began to show in the third quarter,
reversing the two-point gap to take a slim lead into the
final quarter, and that advantage quickly grew to seven
midway through the period with some momentum-building plays.
By the time Abercrombie drained a three with a few minutes
left on the clock, the lead had swollen to double figures for
the first time all night, and the Breakers had all but
vanquished their nemesis.
Breakers 82 (Abercrombie 25, Jackson 20, Bruton 13)
Wollongong 74 (Catron 14, Ubaka 13, Martin 12)
- Kris Shannon, APNZ