20 Feb 2023

Barry Brown leads Breakers back to finals

5:27 am on 20 February 2023
Barry Brown Jr of the Breakers

Barry Brown Jr leads the Breakers back to the finals Photo: Aaron Gillions / www.photosport.nz

The Breakers are back in the Australian NBL finals for the first time in seven years after defeating the Tasmania JackJumpers 92-77 in Game 3 of their Playoff series on Sunday.

An offensive explosion from Barry Brown Jr, who scored 32 points, inspired the Breakers to bounce back from a slow start in the deciding game in Auckland.

The JackJumpers raced out to a 13-2 lead but the game changed once Brown hit the floor.

He scored 15 points in the first half to lead the Breakers to a seven-point half-time lead. With the game still on the line with just a five-point margin with five minutes to play, Brown would score 11 of New Zealand's next 13 points to lead them to the 15-point win.

The defending champion Sydney Kings are now all the stands between the Breakers and a fifth title.

Breakers coach Mody Maor says there is nothing he is looking forward to more than battling the Sydney Kings in the Championship Series.

"They're the defending champs, the best team in the league. This is what finals are supposed to be.

"Looking forward to it, a lot."

It has been an epic turnaround for the Breakers, who have qualified for the decider after a tumultuous two seasons saw them forced out of New Zealand and live out of suitcases due to Covid.

Master coach Maor has engineered the transformation, mentioning they were looking for a particular type of person to restall the club's culture.

"We knew exactly what kind of people we wanted in the building, that's where it started," Maor said.

"The second thing we knew was how we wanted to play, and we brought in people that fit what we want to do on defence and who we want to be as an organisation and as a team."

Breakers' veteran and captain Tom Abercrombie spoke on the joy of coming full circle with the New Zealand side and his excitement and hunger to tackle the best-of-five championship beast.

"The game has changed a lot in seven years, this is obviously as good a team as we've ever had," Abercrombie said.

"It's a battle within itself, once you get to a finals series and haven't been in a best-of-five series either.

"All the series we've played have been best-of-three and best-of-five is a different animal.

"You've already got tactical battles and back and forths in a best of three and I'm sure in a best of five that gets taken to another level."

Earlier in the season, Kings coach Chase Buford compared the Breakers to the All Blacks, due to their physical style of play.

Maor expressd his pride in mirroring the All-Blacks, saying, "anytime somebody compares you to the All-Blacks, it's the biggest badge of honour there can be".

"If we can go play like the All-Blacks…humbling," he said.

Game 1 of the Championship Series between the Breakers and Kings is on 3 March in Sydney.