3 Mar 2016

Breakers beaten in game one

6:58 am on 3 March 2016

The Perth Wildcats have won game one of the Australian National Basketball League grand final series with an 82-76 win over the Breakers in Perth.

Breakers and Wildcats players fight for the ball in game one.

Breakers and Wildcats players fight for the ball in game one. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Wildcats led by 13 points early in the second quarter, but the New Zealanders launched a gutsy comeback to hit the front late in the third.

The critical play of the match came with just 90 seconds remaining in the contest when Wildcats captain Damian Martin forced a time violation against the Breakers by pinning Cedric Jackson into his own defensive half.

Martin unleashed a deft hook shot from the next play to extend the margin to a match-winning five points, with the Wildcats holding on for victory.

The only concern to come out of the match for Perth was a late leg injury to guard Casey Prather, who continued on but looked hampered.

Wildcats centre Nate Jawai was a force in the first half on the way to a 15-point haul, while Corey Webster scored a team-high 19 points for the visitors and Cedric Jackson chipped in with 14.

Perth player Nate Jawai defends Breakers guard Corey Webster

Perth player Nate Jawai defends Breakers guard Corey Webster Photo: Photosport

The Breakers have won four of the past five NBL titles.

But they'll need to win game two in Auckland on Friday night to keep the current series alive.

Breakers coach Dean Vickerman was forced to bench Alex Pledger for most of the opening term after the centre picked up two fouls within the first 90 seconds of the match.

Pledger's absence allowed Wildcats big men Matt Knight and Nate Jawai to dominate.

Knight had eight points to his name within five minutes, while Jawai also produced some crucial plays to give the Wildcats a 24-14 lead by quarter time.

Jawai's dominance grew in the second term, with the Wildcats big man near unstoppable in the paint.

The fringe Boomer nailed nine points for the term, but the Breakers clawed their way back into the contest after Webster finally found his range.

NZ's grand final maestro Jackson also struggled to exert his usual influence, with a scoreless second term seeing him go to the long break with a haul of just seven points.

The third quarter was dominated by the whistle, and some of the calls were controversial.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson was left fuming when Prather picked up his third and fourth fouls via charge calls.

And Breakers players felt aggrieved at a series of calls that went against them.

The Breakers briefly hit the lead late in the third term, but the Wildcats kept their cool in a frenetic final quarter.

"I like the way we battled ourselves back into it," Breakers coach Dean Vickerman said.

"Early on we had a lot of foul trouble with our bigs.

"Jawai and Knighty did a good job early on and got some calls, and made a couple of extra moves to draw those fouls tonight."