6 Jan 2019

Breakers beat top of the table Perth

5:25 pm on 6 January 2019

For the second time in three days, Shawn Long's explosive form has led the New Zealand Breakers to a crucial 97-84 win over NBL-leading Perth in Auckland.

 Breakers Shawn Long.

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

American centre Long poured in 33 points as the home side roared back from a narrow halftime deficit to keep themselves firmly in the playoff picture and heap more misery on the faltering Wildcats.

The Breakers dug deep to produce a dominant second half after Friday's 104-96 defeat of the 36ers in Adelaide. Long also starred in that game, tallying 28 points and 18 rebounds.

The powerhouse centre shapes as a key figure if the Kiwi club are to push this season for a fifth title and his class has been hailed by fellow in-form big man Tai Wesley.

"He makes my job easy. He's a beast and, when he's not in foul trouble, he's the best five (centre) in the league," Wesley said.

"On offence, he showed his whole arsenal tonight. Defensively, he changes shots, gets rebounds and makes our jobs a lot easier when he's on the court."

An athletic presence inside, it was a rare Long three-pointer which effectively sealed the outcome. It opened the margin to nine points with less than two minutes remaining, quelling a Perth fightback.

A 15-point unbroken run late in the third quarter had swung the contest the Breakers' way (8-9). They move past Illawarra into sixth place and just one win outside the top four.

Wesley mixed 20 points with 10 rebounds while teammate Patrick Richard sank 14 points.

Breakers Jarrad Weeks, Shawn Long and Tai Wesley.

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Reigning MVP Bryce Cotton manufactured 27 points for Perth in his return from a hamstring injury, but fellow import Terrico White was their only other player in double figures with 16.

The visitors managed just 37 per cent shooting from the field, while the Breakers shot at 50 per cent and, crucially, avoided the foul problems that had plagued them in three losses earlier this season to Perth.

It was a disappointing 300th game for veteran Wildcats guard Damian Martin, although the defensive kingpin had a personal win by keeping counterpart Corey Webster scoreless.

AAP