Basketball: Breakers hold on against Tigers

The New Zealand Breakers withstood a stunning Melbourne Tigers fightback to secure a thrilling 86-84 win in their NBL clash in Melbourne tonight.

The Tigers came from 22 points down early in the third quarter to level the scores early in the last term, but were unable to put their noses in front.

Three-pointers from New Zealand's Oscar Forman and Tony Ronaldson midway through a grinding last quarter proved decisive, allowing the visitors to regain the lead and hold on.

Star guard Kirk Penney finished with 25 points for the visitors, 21 of those in the first half, with Ronaldson (13) and Forman and CJ Bruton (12 each) the other main scoreboard contributors.

But it was the defensive efforts of New Zealand that were the key to the win.

After Melbourne stars Chris Anstey (19 points) and Rod Grizzard (18) had notched 20 points between them for the first term, the Breakers were able to close them down.

When that pair's scoring dried up, so did Melbourne's, the Tigers managing just 15 points for the second term as New Zealand put on 30 to take a 60-43 halftime lead.

It was extended to 22 points early in the third quarter, before the Tigers finally sprang to life.

Forward Sam Mackinnon, who had just two points in the first half, inspired the comeback, putting together a series of athletic drives to score eight for the third term and spark his team's offence.

Anstey also lifted, with six points for the quarter, with that pair also helping the Tigers double New Zealand's rebound count for the term.

Melbourne closed to within three points by the last change and added the first three points of the last quarter to draw level, completing a 26-4 run.

But the long bombs from Forman and Ronaldson stalled the Tigers' momentum and the home side were unable to come up with the clutch baskets needed.

In a thrilling scoreless final 30 seconds, Mackinnon produced a huge block on a Penney shot, but the Breakers regained the ball after it went out of bounds.

Bruton missed an open shot, giving the Tigers one last chance, but Ebi Ere was off-target, with Mackinnon grabbing the rebound but unable to fire off another shot before the buzzer.

 

 

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