Depleted New Zealand Breakers finish NBL Cup with loss to Phoenix

The injury-hit New Zealand Breakers have finished the NBL Cup with their third loss in four games, outclassed 103-89 by the South East Melbourne Phoenix.
The Phoenix stormed home to finish the NBL Cup competition in second spot with Sunday's win collecting $100,000 (NZ$ 108,112) in prize money as runner-up to the Perth Wildcats. It was a different story for the depleted Breakers, who finished with a 3-5 record, placing seventh out of the nine teams in the month-long Melbourne hub.

Missing second leading scorer Corey Webster (out for four weeks with a knee injury), star import Lamar Patterson (also knee injury), and centre Rob Loe, who is back in New Zealand, it was always going to be tough for the Breakers.

They have added Australian combo guard William McDowell-White and former Brisbane Bullets guard Jeremy Kendle, fresh off a fill-in stint with the Adelaide 36ers, to try and plug the holes.


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Breakers coach Dan Shamir felt his side benefited from life in the NBL hub, despite some key injuries and losses in three of the last four contests.

"The schedule was tough for us missing a few players and with three games in five days, obviously it showed a little bit," Shamir said.

Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Tom Abercrombie played 38 minutes for the Breakers against the Phoenix on Sunday, scoring 23 points.

New Zealand's Finn Delany backed up from Friday's career-high 30-point effort with 24 points and six rebounds and Tom Abercrombie added 23.

Tai Webster contributed 16 points on 6/10 shooting with big man Colton Iverson pouring in 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Phoenix took out all four quarters at John Cain Arena to claim a third win in the space of five days and rise above the Brisbane Bullets and Melbourne United.

Mitch Creek and Kyle Adnam each scored 21 points and Ben Moore made eight of his nine shots to finish on 17, while Ryan Broekhoff played nine minutes in his second NBL appearance before sitting out most of the second half with hamstring soreness.

Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Mitch Creek and the South East Melbourne Phoenix celebrate their win over the Breakers to finish second at the NBL Cup.

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell stressed that his squad's final placing on the NBL Cup table was not his primary focus against New Zealand as they also rose to fourth on the NBL competition ladder with a 9-7 record.

The Phoenix looked strong early despite five turnovers leading to nine Breakers points as they connected on five of their first six three-point attempts.

Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa continued his recent hot form as he drew two offensive fouls from New Zealand danger man Webster and added a pair of triples in his side's 29-23 start.


Moore showed off his deft touch around the hoop and clever play on defence in the second term as the Phoenix lead grew to 11 nearing halftime.

A sloppy finish to the second quarter almost cost the Phoenix a valuable NBL Cup point, but Reuben Te Rangi made one of two free throws to close the half with a 53-46 edge.

The Phoenix won the third quarter 25-19 to ensure a top-three NBL Cup finish, then went on with the job in the final term.

New Zealand's next NBL game is against Brisbane on Saturday.

AT A GLANCE:

South East Melbourne Phoenix 103 (Kyle Adnam 21, Mitch Creek 21, Ben Moore 17, Yanni Wetzell 15, Cam Gliddon 10) NZ Breakers 89 (Finn Delany 24, Tom Abercrombie 23, Tai Webster 16, Colton Iverson 10) Q1: 29-23, HT: 53-46, 3Q: 78-65.

-AAP with Stuff


AAP

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