13 Apr 2013

Aucklanders encouraged to welcome home Breakers

11:31 am on 13 April 2013

The mayor of Auckland is encouraging people to show their support for Breakers basketball players when they arrive back into the country on Sunday.

The New Zealand Breakers defeated the Perth Wildcats on Friday to become only the second National Basketball League club to win three straight championships.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says it's up to the team to decide how it wants to celebrate and the city will put on a victory parade if that's what the players want.

He says Aucklanders must show their support and he hopes to see a large gathering at the airport on Sunday for the team's arrival. The team will meet members of the public at an event later in the day.

The Breakers beat the Wildcats 70-66 in a tense second game of the grand final series in front of a sold out Perth Arena. They faced the Wildcats in all three grand final series and this was the first to be decided in two games.

CJ Bruton was the star once again for the Breakers as he claimed his sixth NBL championship made up of two with the Sydney Kings, one with the Brisbane Bullets and now the three with the New Zealanders.

The Wildcats hung in to just trail by a point at quarter-time and to level at half-time at Perth Arena.

The Breakers took control early in the third quarter, holding the Wildcats scoreless for five minutes and opening up an 11-point lead.

The lead was still 11 by three quarter-time but the home side got back to within a point with 28 seconds to go following two free-throws from Greg Hire. Daryl Corletto then went to the line and hit one.

Perth's Shawn Redhage missed a desperation shot and then Bruton calmly hit two free throws of his own and the Breakers won by four to claim the championship.

Three-time championship-winning coach Andrej Lemanis was almost lost for words when asked of his emotion after the win.

"They are all different and special in their own way and this is my first time winning on the road so that's a different experience," Lemanis said.

"Obviously I am very proud of the group and humbled to be their coach with such a great team."

Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge was disappointed to lose but said he was proud of his group. "Our backs were to the wall and we just fought and fought and fought, and never ever gave in," he said.