Basketball: New Zealand Breakers come alive in second half to batter Adelaide 36ers
New Zealand Breakers 114
Adelaide 36ers 94
The New Zealand Breakers' bizarre start to the Australian NBL season continues apace, with the fluctuating franchise coming alight in the second half to run down the Adelaide 36ers.
A 114-94 victory puts Kevin Braswell's side back to 2-2 for the season â" a largely expected record, but one which has been achieved in strange fashion.
Two thrashings at home at the hands of the Brisbane Bullets and Sydney Kings were seen as cause for concern, but to balance the books, the Breakers have gone and beaten two teams heavily tipped for top four honours - adding the scalp of Adelaide to their earlier victory over Melbourne United.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
Granted, there have been some mitigating circumstances in those victories â" Melbourne were coming off a lu dicrous quadruple overtime game, while Adelaide had played on Friday night before jetting across the Tasman.
In the end, that fatigue could be claimed as a reason for why the 36ers melted down in the second half after a hot start, but while it would perhaps be one justification, it wasn't as big a factor as the Breakers finding their offensive mojo.
Braswell had called on his players to step up after their lacklustre start, and nobody answered the call better than Finn Delany, with the burgeoning forward enjoying a career-best outing with a superb 27 point display. Delany was regularly finishing emphatically at the rim, going up strong against the 36ers big men as he shot 12/18 from the field.
His contributions were essential after the Breakers had fallen into a 14-point deficit. With the clash promoted as "Spooky Sunday" at Spark Arena, the only thing scary was the defence on show, as the two sides combined for the highest scoring half of the season to date.
Braswell has pinpointed Adelaide as a side he wants to emulate as an offensive, up-tempo unit, but the trick is to find a defensive balance, and the Breakers' interior defence was horrendous to start as 36ers big man Jacob Wiley feasted his way to 21 points on 9/9 shooting.
Fortunately for the Breakers, Adelaide were always unlikely to keep up their frenetic pace, and the Breakers' imports eventually came to the party as well. Shawn Long helped shore up the hosts' defensive issues, while fellow import Armani Moore broke out after a poor start to the season, compiling 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.
It all accumulated into a dominant fourth quarter, as the Breakers reeled off a 27-8 run to race away to a surprisingly convincing victory.
Sure, Adelaide were well and truly out of gas as they puttered to the finish line, but perhaps the Breakers have found some fuel to get back on track.
Breakers 1 14 (Delany 27, Moore 17, Webster 16)
36ers 94 (Wiley 23, Froling 20, Johnson 14)