Breakers edge out Taipans in NBL thriller

Fraser Barton |

The New Zealand Breakers have escaped north Queensland with an 84-83 NBL win over a fast-finishing Cairns.

Up by 12 points with three minutes remaining, the Breakers (4-9) attempted six of their last seven shots from the deep and they all missed to leave the door wide open for the Taipans to fight back.

When the Breakers’ sixth attempt missed, Taipans (3-6) star Scott Machado had an opportunity to win the game on the final possession, hoisting a floater before it rattled off the rim as time expired. 

Coming into Monday’s contest, the Breakers sat last on the NBL ladder but it didn’t show early as they raced to a 30-12 quarter-time lead.

The weather forecast was for light rain in Cairns but New Zealand brought a cyclone of shooting with them, hitting 10 of their 15 field goals in the first quarter and six of seven shots from the deep.

Facing a 55-35 halftime deficit, the home side looked set for a blowout but they came out aggressively in the third term and with ball retention in mind, outscored the Breakers 32-14 to claw to within two points.

But after failing to post a field goal attempt in the third term, New Zealand went to big man Yannick Wetzell who’s rebounding, aggression and facilitation kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Wetzell stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, 14 boards, four assists and a career-high seven steals, while Peyton Siva had 22 points of his own.

“It’s a game of runs and they definitely made their run in the third quarter,” Wetzell said.

“I felt like we didn’t come out with that edge and intensity we did when we started the game, and that really hurt us.

“In the fourth quarter, I felt like we really held it together, we made some good plays down the stretch that mattered most and we were able to pull out the win.”

Cairns coach Adam Forde said their slow start was attributed to a second game in three days, but he couldn’t make excuses for the result.

“I didn’t envision us being down 26 (points), it was disappointing.” he said.

“We were getting our arses kicked in every category, in every lineup.

“New Zealand deserved to win that game. They played incredible and they were running out of plays and rotations and we got them in foul trouble and we tried to capitalise on that, but, the first half was pretty poor.”