Basketball: New Zealand Breakers impress but fall just short of upset against Phoenix Suns
Worried looks; covered mouths; jangling nerves â" this was not the way Phoenix Suns fans saw themselves watching their side close out the NZ Breakers.
But at Arizona's Talking Stick Arena, the Breakers almost did the unthinkable.
Trailing by as many as 19 points during the match, the Kiwi side fell to a 91-86 loss after an impressive fourth quarter saw them come within reach of knocking off one of the world's top teams.
DeAndre Ayton might have been the No 1 pick in this year's NBA draft, but it was Corey Webster who lit up Talking Sticks Resort arena. The Breakers guard shot drained 11 of 24 shots for 27 points â" leading all scorers on the night.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
They say that the best things in life are free, and had the Breakers been better from the free throw line, the kiwi outfit might ha ve taken a famous victory. But missing 10 of 28 attempts at the charity stripe generally doesn't reflect well on the score sheet.
While the Suns fans might have been surprised by how close the result was, they can be excited by the performance of Ayton.
Skilled and agile, Ayton proved to be a handful for the Breakers and his stat line reflected that. The 20-year-old posted 21 points with 15 rebounds and three blocks. New recruit Trevor Ariza made his impact felt too, with 16 points and six assists. At one stage Breakers coach Kevin Braswell called to forward Thomas Abercrombie to switch his defensive assignment to "Get on Ariza."
The Suns small forward greeted the call with a look halfway between "Oh really?" and "You just walked your man into the wrong alley at night time."
The Breakers went to Phoenix to win, but as hard as they fought, it wasn't to be. However, there were plenty of positives for the Kiwi side to take out of the match.
Armani Moore looked to have all the hustle promised when he was signed, as did Patrick Richard who finished with 11 points, and Tai Wesley showed his normal confidence and flashed some impressive footwork in the low post.
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But the night will be remembered as Webster's - who more than likely sent the local fans to their phones to Google who he was.
See how the match played out below