Tai Webster of the Breakers drives to the basket to score.
(Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
It looked like a mismatch on paper and that proved true
in practice - the sleeping giant that was the Breakers offence
is well and truly awake.
The league-leading Breakers (7-1) destroyed the winless
Townsville Crocs (0-9) with ruthless efficiency tonight at
Vector Arena, winning their seventh straight game 93-63.
The winning streak is now the second-highest in franchise
history and, for the first time since their second ever game,
the Breakers now have an overall winning record.
It was their 150th all-time victory, to go with 149 losses,
and it's doubtful many of the preceding 298 games were as
straightforward as tonight's.
Townsville always seemed set to struggle against the two-time
defending champions and the Breakers, who had clipped the
Crocs twice already this season, made sure of that as they
busted out of a season-long offensive mini-slump.
Heading into the contest the Breakers' highest score of the
campaign was 81 points - tonight they had 79 through three
"With a 21-point lead at the half, there's always that danger
we let up a little bit and let them back into the game,"
coach Andrej Lemanis said. "But we kept out foot on the
The Breakers shot an impressive 48 per cent both from the
floor and from deep and, for much of the second half, they
threatened to double the Townsville total.
Five Breakers reached double figures, something of a hallmark
last season, which Lemanis took to be an encouraging sign.
"We've always shared the ball well, we just haven't knocked
down some shots so far this season," he said. "But now we're
starting to get to that point where we've got more than three
players playing well."
Lemanis was pleased with different players contributing at
different times this season, exemplified tonight by Alex
Pledger's career-best 18 points and Cedric Jackson's third
The rout which was to follow certainly didn't seem apparent
in the first quarter, as the Crocs continued to demonstrate a
fondness for the Vector Arena rims.
Despite shooting 75 per cent from the floor Townsville went
to the first break facing a double digit deficit, after the
Breakers rode an 8-0 run to lead 31-21 at the end of a
high-scoring opening quarter.
But it fell apart for the Crocs in the second as the shots
stopped falling and the Breakers turned the screws on the
stingy defence which has carried them this season.
The Crocs went more than six minutes without scoring either
side of the first break and the home side were soon out of
Tom Abercrombie's dunk following Peter Crawford's air-ball
towards the end of the half provided both personal
satisfaction - after the pair's clash in last season's
playoffs - and provided the Breakers with a 21-point lead.
It stayed that way as the teams headed to the sheds, with
Pledger's game-high 12 points helping the Breakers break 50
in the opening half for the first time this season.
If it looked all over at halftime, that feeling was soon
magnified. By the time Townsville called for clemency with a
timeout midway through the third, the Breakers' lead had
ballooned to an insurmountable 29 points.
A couple of Abercrombie threes ignited the crowd and, with
his side shooting better than they had all season, the only
remaining intrigue surrounded whether the Breakers could
crack a ton.
They were certainly on track at the final break, with
back-to-back CJ Bruton threes boosting the advantage to 35
With the game well and truly wrapped up Bruton took to
entertaining the crowd in other ways, thanking a spectator
with a kiss on the cheek after she helped him back to his
feet when he tumbled over the advertising hoardings.
The Breakers followed Bruton's relaxed lead and slightly
eased off, even affording to give a couple of development
squad members a run, and fell just short in their search for
Breakers 93 (Pledger 18, Abercrombie 16, Bruton 15)
Townsville 63 (Allen 11, Abney 11, Ervin 10)
- Kris Shannon