7 Jan 2017

Breakers fall to bottom of ANBL ladder

9:01 am on 7 January 2017

The New Zealand Breakers have fallen to the bottom of the Australian National Basketball League ladder, after losing 65-63 to the Cairns Taipans on Friday night.

The Breakers star Kirk Penney scored a game-high 21 points for the visitors, but it wasn't enough for the struggling club, who were outplayed in the final quarter - something that's becoming a trend for the Auckland-based club.

Breakers captain Mika Vukona

Breakers captain Mika Vukona Photo: Photosport

Both teams scored just 11 points each in a dire opening quarter that set the tone for the rest of the encounter.

The Taipans turned the ball over 13 times but the Breakers were even worse with 18.

Despite that, the visitors found themselves in the lead for most of the night, largely thanks to a huge advantage on the boards, where they led the home side by 12 at one point in the third quarter.

But an influential final stanza from the Taipans rookie Mitch McCarron saved them, his 14 points, three assists, six rebounds and a steal proving the difference.

The Breakers saw hope after the Taipans missed five three throws in the final minute to give New Zealand forward Rob Loe a last-second game-winning attempt, but he couldn't get the three-pointer it to fall.

Coach Paul Henare was terse with his opinion on the officiating in the scrappy loss.

The New Zealand men's basketball coach Paul Henare.

The New Zealand men's basketball coach Paul Henare. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"I've gotta be careful with what I can say. I'm being thrown loaded questions here but I know I can't say some things that I'd like to," he said.

They'll be hoping import Paul Carter can suit up after the guard limped from the court following a knee clash with the Taipans' Stephen Weigh.

"He came off and the medic said he'd be okay but, two seconds later, he came back on, said he wasn't, so we'll have to evaluate that now," Henare said.

The Breakers' second-straight loss means they have replaced Cairns on the bottom of the NBL ladder ahead of Sunday's clash against league leaders Adelaide.