21 Dec 2019

Breakers beat Phoenix in Christchurch

6:15 am on 21 December 2019

New Zealand Breakers won their first game outside Auckland for the NBL basketball season, upsetting the top four prospects of the South East Melbourne Phoenix 90-84 in Christchurch.

NZ Breakers Scotty Hopson

Scotty Hopson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While the Breakers came into the game at 4-10, they had won four of their seven matches at Auckland's Spark Arena, but Friday's opening to Round 12 was the start of six straight matches away from that venue.

And despite having lost Corey Webster now for the rest of the season having released their superstar scorer to China and RJ Hampton still sidelined with a hip complaint, the Breakers led virtually from start to finish at Horncastle Arena against a Phoenix team trying to break back into the top four.

There would be no escaping from jail this time for the Phoenix as they did in Sunday's remarkable overtime win against the Cairns Taipans. But South East Melbourne did give it a fair shake after being 11 up still with under three minutes remaining.

From there Mitch Creek scored inside, Ben Madgen hit while wide open from outside and then Creek scored on a bucket inside again, and it was game on with four points the difference with just under a minute left.

Three turnovers in no time from the Breakers left the door ajar for the Phoenix, but they couldn't walk through it with the Breakers holding on to improve to 5-10 while South East Melbourne missed a chance to go back fourth, now sitting at 7-8.

In the absence of Webster and Hampton in the New Zealand back court, it was Scotty Hopson standing up showing the type of performance predicted of him coming into the season. He finished the night with a game-winning performance made up of 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

Sek Henry continued his rejuvenated form too with 17 points and four assists while captain Tom Abercrombie had an efficient 15 points and two steals on 6/9 shooting.

Finn Delany attacked the basket hard with nine of his 13 points coming at the foul line to go with eight rebounds while Brandon Ashley managed to avoid serious foul trouble to play 30 minutes and clock 13 points and eight boards.

The Phoenix will be disappointed to drop a game to one of the bottom two sides in the race for fourth spot but Mitch Creek did all he could. He strengthened his MVP case with another 24 points, three rebounds and two assists.

The Breakers remain second to last in the standings.

John Roberson had 13 points and seven assists but couldn't replicate his heroics from Sunday against the Taipans while Ben Madgen added 11 points, Tai Wesley 10 and Dane Pineau nine to go with nine rebounds before fouling out.

New Zealand backs up on Sunday playing the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong while the Phoenix head to Sydney to take on the Kings on Monday night.