Breakers rediscover spark in win

Breakers guard DJ Newbill beats Bullets guard Adam Gibson off the dribble. Photo: Getty Images
Breakers guard DJ Newbill beats Bullets guard Adam Gibson off the dribble. Photo: Getty Images
The New Zealand Breakers have rediscovered their offensive spark, and the taste of victory.

A 96-89 win over the Brisbane Bullets would have been a sweet relief for the Australian National Basketball League front-runners, after what had been a lacklustre week.

Following nine straight victories, the Breakers had slumped to two consecutive defeats, scoring just 73 and 76 points in the process.

One of those defeats was at the hands of Brisbane on Sunday, but a much livelier performance ensured a swift end to a brief losing streak.

The manner of the victory would be most pleasing, with the difference coming on the offensive end, with the Breakers notching their second highest total of the season so far.

Breakers coach Paul Henare was pleased with the offensive tempo and pace that his side played at.

"The intent which we played with the ball – I thought it was one of our higher paced games. [Edgar] Sosa, DJ [Newbill] and Shea [Ili], the work they put in against their backcourt against the front of their press got us on the front foot."

That factor was essential to give the Breakers an edge, because Brisbane were up to the initial challenge.

The Bullets big men were getting inside easily, boxing out the Breakers bigs with excellent positioning and gratefully receiving the rewards.

The multi-faceted combination of Daniel Kickert, Tom Jervis and Mitch Young were doing the damage in the paint, with Kickert providing the outside shooting to complement their inside scoring.

A Kickert triple built Brisbane an eight point lead, but the Breakers have found themselves in that position plenty this season, and promptly fought their way out.

An offensive onslaught rapidly put them back in front, a lead they held until halftime, going into the break with a 49-47 advantage.

The onslaught was led by the man who the Breakers fortunes were perhaps best summed up by - Tom Abercrombie.

After scoring just 13 points combined in his last two outings, Abercrombie continued the Breakers resurgence after the interval with an aggressive display at both ends, finishing with 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Abercrombie noted that his aggression was a response to his quiet showings the week before.

"I wasn't too happy with how I played last week. I tried to be aggressive, get myself into the lane, get some free-throws and be a bit more active."

A trademark high-flying block was the highlight, but more important were the back-to-back threes which followed, part of a perfect 5/5 night from deep for Abercrombie.

Suddenly, the Breakers had an eight point lead, and unlike weeks prior, they managed to get significant contributions across the board.

Off the bench, Rob Loe and Finn Delany provided necessary production to counter Brisbane's interior punch, with the Breakers bench duo combining for 21 points on 9/12 shooting, and 12 rebounds.

Brisbane weren't going away easily, but DJ Newbill – as he often does – took over in the fourth quarter. The all-around import contributed a season-high eight assists, and when Brisbane threatened a comeback with a minute remaining, he reeled off five straight points to maintain the advantage.

Fittingly, it was Abercrombie who scored the final points, as the Breakers claimed their 10th win, and consolidated their spot atop the ladder.

Breakers 96 (Tom Abercrombie 22, DJ Newbill 17)
Bullets 89 (Tom Jervis 20, Daniel Kickert 16)
HT: 49-47

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