Some Tom Abercrombie magic delivered the New Zealand Breakers
a remarkable 82-78 NBL victory over the Crocodiles in
Townsville last night.
The home side led by 14 points in the shadows of
three-quarter-time before Leon Henry nailed two big triples
to give the Breakers a sniff.
While Gary Ervin (29 points, 4 assists) did everything he
could to hold off the champs, Mika Vukona and Cedric Jackson
stepped up the intensity to reduce the margin to five with
three minutes to play.
From there it was Abercrombie time as the international star
nailed nine straight points to break the hearts of the big
crowd in Townsville.
Abercrombie finished with 19 points at 60 per cent, while
Jackson (10 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists), Alex Pledger (10
points, 9 rebounds) and Will Hudson (10 points, 8 rebounds)
were also big contributors.
"We've had these four games on the road and we've been
through different things and found different ways to win,"
Breakers coach Andre Lemanis said.
"In Adelaide we were down by 21 at the half and found a way
to win, while in Wollongong we played in a game that was 22
lead changes, 10 times the game was tied and we found a way
"And with that comes a confidence that no matter what's going
on in the team, if we keep playing a certain way we're going
to give ourselves at least a chance."
Early on Luke Nevill (20 points, 4 rebounds) got the better
of an entertaining match-up with Pledger to put the Crocs in
front, but the Breakers surged and a Jackson-Abercrombie
alley-oop had the visitors up by five.
Townsville young gun Todd Blanchfield then stood tall,
scoring 10 points including a towering Statue of Liberty dunk
through traffic to power the Crocs to a 23-16 lead at the
Defence was the name of the second quarter as Townsville's
switching schemes threw the Breakers usual rhythm, while at
the other end Ervin was simply unstoppable.
After a stunning solo lay-up in transition, Ervin found
Nevill on the break and then nailed a deep three to give the
Crocs a 34-21 lead.
Trailing by 15 at half-time the Breakers emerged a different
team in the third, picking off two steals punctuated by a
two-handed power jam from Abercrombie.
The teams traded alley-oops to big men Nevill and Pledger,
but Vukona (8 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) lifted
his already incredible intensity as New Zealand dominated
possession on their way to a 44-18 rebounding advantage.
Try as they might though the Breakers had no answer for
Ervin, and when Peter Crawford hit a trademark transition
triple the margin was 14.
But you can never write off a champion and so it proved as
Henry popped up for his influential cameo and then
Abercrombie produced a masterpiece.
"I told the boys after the game that they deserved to win,
but you have to play 40 minutes," Crocs coach Paul Woolpert.
"You can't have soft possessions at the end of the game.
"We knew they would be aggressive and physical down the
stretch ... and we had counters for that, but we didn't get
"We had soft offensive possessions ... soft passes, we
weren't aggressive and we fed them, giving them momentum and
life and they took advantage."