The Breakers showed just how comfortable those white road
singlets sit on their shoulders this season, going into a
graveyard known as 'The Sandpit' and coming out alive.
Not only have Wollongong been something of a bogey team for
the Breakers - possessing an Australian-best record of 7-5
against the two-time champions over the last three seasons -
but their home court has provided particular problems.
New Zealand had won only three of 15 games at the WIN
Entertainment Centre coming into the encounter, but a 78-76
shootout broke that hoodoo and boosted the Breakers' lead
atop the Australian NBL.
The Breakers have now won six of their eight games across the
Tasman this season, a success rate which has played a large
part in their 12-3 record and their quest for a three-peat of
Tonight's victory was the third leg of a four-game roadtrip
and, with only the lowly Townsville to come, the Breakers
have a real chance of emerging with a perfect record from a
testing New Year period.
The two sides came into the clash ranked first and second in
defence but a couple of high-powered offences prevented
predictions of a defensive duel.
That was a real possibility in the first quarter as poor
shooting and persistent whistling restricted either side from
The second quarter was much more fluid for the Breakers'
offence, with failure from the floor replaced by sharp
shooting which saw 27 points posted. Alex Pledger, Mika
Vukona and Will Hudson had their way with the Hawks close to
the rim and helped build a 43-42 lead at the major break.
That smallest of advantages was soon wiped out as the lead
continued to change hands throughout the third quarter. A big
three from one-time Wollongong fan favourite CJ Bruton
boosted the Breakers' breathing room to five points going
into the final quarter.
The lead grew as large as nine but the Hawks continued to
circle and a three from former Breaker Oscar Forman handed
Wollongong a rare edge with a minute left, before Bruton
answered right back to cement his clutch reputation.
The Hawks still had the chance to tie it at the death but
some suffocating defence from Cedric Jackson kept Wollongong
from getting a shot away.
Wollongong 76 (Martin 28, Hurdle 12, Saville 11)
Breakers 78 (Pledger 14, Hudson 14, Jackson 11) HT: