Sixers and Breakers keep NBL top-six hopes alive

Chris Pike |

Anthony Lamb had a birthday to remember with his career-best haul of 31 points for the Breakers.
Anthony Lamb had a birthday to remember with his career-best haul of 31 points for the Breakers.

The race to finish in the NBL’s top six has taken another twist with the New Zealand Breakers and Adelaide 36ers winning impressively to keep themselves in the hunt.

The top six teams will be part of the finals this season again in the NBL with the top two guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, and then the next four fighting in play-in games over the other two positions.

The Breakers, who hammered South East Melbourne Phoenix 106-75, and the Sixers, 96-89 winners over the Illawarra Hawks,  are still firmly in the hunt.

New Zealand snapped a three-game losing slide in emphatic fashion, putting the sword to the now bottom-placed Phoenix. 

The Breakers’ 31-point win improved their percentage significantly as they rise to seventh spot at 9-12, just behind both Cairns and Brisbane at 11-12.

Anthony Lamb celebrated his 26th birthday with an NBL career-best 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting, but it was an all-round team effort from the Breakers which coach Mody Maor hopes they can continue.

“I know we have this in us, the players do too, and now it’s time we bring it every quarter, every minute all the time,” he said.

“We just have to stay the course and it’s really not the time to reinvent the wheel in any way, shape or form.

“We know who we are, we know what we look like when we play well, and we know how this feels and the mindset we need to be in to play that way. That’s all we need to maintain.”

The 36ers are becoming quite the story too under interim coach Scott Ninnis with the club Hall of Famer, in his second stint as a head coach, lighting a fire under his team.

The Sixers are out of bottom place now at 9-14 having won four of the last five games with Isaac Humphries (18 points, 10 rebounds), Trey Kell III (26 points) and DJ Vasiljevic (14) terrific again against Illawarra.

Kyrin Galloway continued to step up in the absence of import power forward Jacob Wiley with another 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks as they handed the Hawks a third straight defeat.

Ninnis might not want to talk about finals, but he’s not afraid to dream either.

“No, hell no, we’re not talking about finals,” Ninnis said with a smile.

“In the back of your mind, you always dare to dream and think about things, but we’ve had no conversation about that as a team.

“The last thing we’re going to do now is get ahead of ourselves and all we can focus on is Cairns at home next Saturday night.”

AAP