Corey Webster’s 24 steered the Breakers to a huge win in playoff opener.
On Thursday night at Vector Arena, the New Zealand Breakers put on a clinic on how to play finals basketball.
The Breakers won the tip and hit the Adelaide 36ers like a freight train, stopping them in their tracks early and claiming game one of the NBL semi-finals with a 111-82 blowout win.
New Zealand started the game hot, leaping out to a 16-2 lead in less than three minutes of playing time.
Mika Vukona (12 points, 10 rebounds) started strong with a pair of baskets and triples from Tom Abercrombie (11 points) and Corey Webster (24 points, 4/8 3PT) had the Breakers on top by 14.
Adelaide hit back through Mitch Creek (12 points, seven rebounds).
The swingman took the ball the length of the court to slam home his first two points and then used his speed and athleticism to get the visitors back into the game.
Creek attacked the basket relentlessly, getting an easy layup in transition after receiving a pass from Brendan Teys and then floating in a tough shot brought the Sixers back to life.
Brock Motum (10 points) swished his only triple of the game and after Jamar Wilson‘s (21 points) layup to end the quarter, Adelaide found themselves down by six.
The Sixers got to within four points of the Breakers but that’s were the run ended.
Vukona and Abercrombie took the reins of the New Zealand side, Vukona hustling inside for shots around the basket while Abercrombie’s long range accuracy extended their lead.
The Breakers were benefiting from an extra level of hustle not displayed by the Sixers. Steals and loose balls always ended up in the hands of the home side.
Cedric Jackson‘s (13 points, 10 assists) stepback jumper to close the half left New Zealand with a 15 point lead at the main break and all the momentum in the world.
Adelaide struggled to find an offensive flow for most of the game, a small flurry of points to begin the fourth quarter was a valiant effort but came much too late.
New Zealand’s superior ball movement and energy lead them to an incredible 33-15 third quarter as the three-time champions sent out a strong message to the rest of the NBL.
The Breakers were certainly feeling it all night long, making 53% of their field goals and 44% of their three pointers.
Midway through the final quarter, tensions boiled over as Daniel Johnson and Reuben Te Rangi had an altercation after getting tangled up on a rebound and then Anthony Petrie and Vukona brought the game to a halt as they wrestled on the base line.
A small melee broke out as players piled on top of each other while the referees attempted to separate the teams.
Petrie was given an unsportsmanlike foul and called the incident between him and Vukona “just two old blokes going at it”.
Game two is on Saturday night at Adelaide Arena.
Written by Mark Halliday @mk_halliday