5 Dec 2016

Breakers suffer fourth straight loss

5:57 am on 5 December 2016

The New Zealand Breakers have suffered their fourth loss in as many matches, going down 98-74 to Melbourne United on Sunday.

The loss has slumped the Breakers to last on the Australian NBL ladder after starting the week in fourth.

Kirk Penney in action for the Breakers

Kirk Penney in action for the Breakers Photo: Photosport

Not even the return of guard Corey Webster could spur the Breakers into life. Webster's 15 points was the most by anyone in the Breakers line-up, compared to Melbourne United's American import Casper Ware's 26 from the floor.

With the last clash between these sides going to extra time, it was no surprise the first quarter was tight and tough as the Breakers came out looking to make a statement.

Yet, despite veteran guard Kirk Penney's 12 points, scores were level 20-20 at the first break after Ware nailed his free throws in the dying moments.

Once again, it was the Breakers that led the opening of the second period as they immediately eased out to a seven-point lead in the first 90 seconds.

But that was the cue for United's defence to tighten the screws once more as they restricted their opponents to just 11 more points before half-time, while putting on 28 themselves.

As Ware (11 points for the quarter) found his range from beyond the arc and Ramone Moore (nine points for the game) added some polish while driving to the basket, the hosts eased out to a 48-38 advantage at the main break.

New Zealand's hopes weren't improving as forward Thomas Abercrombie found himself in foul trouble and was forced off early in the third quarter, while time and again the Breakers' shots were blocked by United's hungry bigs.

But it seemed New Zealand's less-than-cohesive defence was the main issue as Ware was allowed to drive to the basket virtually unimpeded just 33 seconds after the break, while Melbourne's shooters found themselves in space on several occasions.

The Breakers did manage to contain the damage somewhat as they only trailed by 19 at the last change, that margin reduced to 17 as Akil Mitchell started fighting hard under the basket with some big points early in the last quarter.

But as New Zealand's frustrations started to get the better of them - Mika Vukona produced a foul on Owen Odigie before being fouled out, while Mitchell and Shea Ili were also sent to the bench - United just continued to build on their lead, for a comprehensive victory.