19 Oct 2019

Breakers edged in season opener

6:31 am on 19 October 2019

The Breakers have fallen to a 96-91 defeat to the Sydney Kings in their NBL season opener in Sydney.

Scotty Hopson in action during a New Zealand Breakers basketball training session held on Auckland’s North Shore on the 17th October 2019. 
Credit; Peter Meecham/ www.photosport.nz

Scotty Hopson Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

The Kings faced a few anxious moments at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena after seeing their seven-point fourth-quarter lead disappear thanks to an 8-0 run from the visitors.

But the experience of point guard Casper Ware (27 points) came to the fore as Sydney recovered to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Reigning league MVP Andrew Bogut overcame back tightness to dominate under the basket, finishing with 11 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, while veteran swingman Brad Newley added 17 points.

"It was an ugly game, we didn't play particularly well but it's a good sign when you win these kinds of games," Bogut said as he praised his squad for battling to the end against a dogged opponent.

"I think our ceiling is a long way away still so that's a pretty impressive sign when you go 3-0."

The home side struggled from long range (4-of-22) without injured guard Kevin Lisch but their fierce attack on the basket saw them outscore New Zealand 24-4 from the free-throw line.

After missing the first two rounds with a back issue, exciting Brazilian prospect Didi Louzada made his Kings debut and tallied eight points and seven rebounds.

Playing their opening match of the new season, the Breakers were paced by new import Scotty Hopson (27 points, seven rebounds) and Corey Webster (21).

The match also featured the debut appearance of highly-touted American teenager RJ Hampton, the NBL Next Star played 21 minutes for seven points and three rebounds.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday at Auckland's Spark Arena.

Meanwhile, the Cairns Taipans have caused a massive upset in Perth, beating the Wildcats by 23 points to win their first game of the season.

Cameron Oliver impressed with a powerful 22 points and nine rebounds to lead the Taipans to a 99-76 win over the reigning champions at RAC Arena, the Cats' biggest loss at the venue.