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The New Zealand Breakers prevailed over the Townsville Crocodiles 81-72 in Townsville on Friday night, the home team slumping to 0-8 for the season.
The Crocs charged from 10 points down behind triples from Gary Ervin, Todd Blanchfield and Michael Cedar to start the fourth quarter, and pulled within one with a Larry Abney free throw midway through the term.
But clutch three-pointers by Thomas Abercrombie and veteran CJ Bruton pulled their side ahead and proved the decisive moments of the game.
The Breakers were led by Cedric Jackson (14 points, 12 assists), Darryl Corletto (19 points) and Thomas Abercrombie (15 points, six rebounds).
For the Crocs, Ervin (18 points) did his best to keep the home side close, while Peter Crawford scored 12 and Blanchfield chipped in with 11.
Townsville, without the services of starting centre Ben Allen who had a stomach bug, were out-rebounded 42-26.
But the night was looking a little brighter when they shot off to a 9-2 start thanks to eights points by Ervin, but some poor shot selection allowed New Zealand within two at quarter-time.
The teams traded blows in the second period, but a late Abercrombie three-pointer from the corner ensured the Breakers edged ahead 40-35 at the main break.
When Jackson crossed over his man before shooting a fade-away at the top of the key in the third the Breakers were up by 10 for the first time and looked to be pulling away.
But Townsville's perimeter barrage brought the game to life as the home side threatened to overrun the defending champs.
Then Bruton, the master of big shots, nailed a transition three to give the Breakers some breathing space and swing the momentum.
Crocs forward Jacob Holmes committed a technical foul on the next play and the Breakers were ahead by eight, holding off the home side with some suffocating defence from there.