The Breakers tonight overcame the peculiar problem of having
a week between games to win their 11th straight - but they
needed some Cedric Jackson magic to do so.
The defending champions defeated Sydney 96-94 in an epic
overtime encounter to prolong a winning run that has seen
them pull away atop the Australian NBL.
Third-placed Sydney were the last side to beat the Breakers -
almost two months ago to the day - and they went agonisingly
close to repeating the dose at the Sydney Entertainment
Sydney completed a controversial three-point play in the
dying seconds to send the game to overtime, with Darnell
Lazare putting back a deliberately-missed free throw from
Corin Henry to level the scores. After Henry made the first
foul shot, his second appeared to miss the rim - which would
have ruled out Lazare's put-back - but the officials allowed
In overtime, the Kings again pulled level in unlikely
fashion, but a hobbled Cedric Jackson stepped off the bench
to deliver the game-winning lay-up with two seconds left.
It could have been over earlier but the Breakers were far
from their best after an extended eight-day layoff since
their destruction of Perth last week - exactly what coach
Andrej Lemanis warned of as his side is now back to playing
just the one game a week.
Their winning streak was built on a hectic summer schedule,
with Lemanis feeling the rapid run of games allowed the
Breakers to play themselves into a steady rhythm.
Their cadence appeared a little off-kilter for much of
proceedings tonight, though they hung tough against a
determined Kings outfit which appeared to have destiny on
If these sides meet again in April, Sydney have posed enough
problems this season to be handled with care. Of course if
they do meet again, in Jackson, the Breakers hold the trump
The American point guard, who won his fourth player of the
week award for his efforts against Perth, may have earned his
fifth in a game that all-but sealed his MVP case. He led the
Breakers with 24 points, chimed in with 12 rebounds and seven
assists in the latest of a long line of stunning
A game with such a dramatic final act began with a dull first
quarter in which the Breakers held control for long periods
but failed to apply the finishing touch. The visitors'
red-hot shooting of recent weeks went cold in the opening
quarter as Sydney embarked on an 8-0 run to take a 17-14 lead
into the first break.
After making almost half their attempts from deep in their
last four games, the Breakers were patchy from beyond the arc
in the first half and managed just three successes from 14
attempts. That inaccuracy enabled the Kings to head to
halftime with a four-point lead despite being out-rebounded
21-13 by the Breakers.
The Breakers have shown on a few occasions during their
winning streak they can be boosted by the halftime break, and
they started the second spell tonight with an 8-1 run to
retake the lead and hold a 63-59 advantage heading into the
Sydney began the fourth the stronger side as the two teams
took turns in front, and the game seemed destined to go to
the final possession. After Lazare's heroics on that play,
Sydney held all the momentum and quickly opened a five-point
lead in overtime before the Breakers immediately hit back.
Jackson gave the Breakers the lead and Mika Vukona extended
it, but the Kings refused to be conquered and a James Harvey
triple tied it with four seconds left.
Enter Jackson, who again showed just why he is the best
player in the competition.
Breakers 96 (Jackson 24, Pledger 18, Corletto 12), Sydney 94
(Lazare 25, Henry 22, Madgen 17). HT: 40-36. FT: 82-82.
- Kris Shannon of APNZ