The SKYCITY Breakers, in their third and final game at the NBL Blitz, took on the Cairns Taipans for the first time since the 2015 NBL Grand Final series back in February.
Despite being seriously undermanned and undersized the SKY CITY Breakers put together a terrific performance before going down 105-100 in overtime.
As in the first game against Townsville Everard Bartlett demonstrated his shooting prowess scoring 26 points at a very impressive clip – 10/16 FG including 6/10 threes. Development player She Ili had by far his most productive game in a blue and black singlet racking up 21 points (8/11FG). Again Shane McDonald caught the eye with a dozen points and Reuben Te Rangi was tireless playing over 40 minutes for a stat line of 7 points/2 rebounds/4 assists/2 steals/2 blocks.
After encountering severe foul problems in previous games Charles Jackson put together a far mor convincing performance, the new import centre added 16 rebounds to 19 points (8/13FG) in a strong energetic display that will have heartened SKY CITY Breakers supporters.
The coaching staff took the precaution of resting Mika Vukona and Tai Wesley with the opening NBL regular season just eleven days away, both players having picked up minor leg injuries the previous evening against the Perth Wildcats. In an additional change assistant coach Judd Flavell took over the coaching reins for the evening.
The Breakers made a blistering start, points shared by seven players, forging to a 37-27 first quarter lead.
Bartlett and Charles Jackson kept the score ticking over in the second period and although the Taipans won the quarter the SKY CITY Breakers still held sway 51-43 at half time. Both players had 11 points at the main break.
The lack of playing resources became a major issue for the SKY CITY Breakers in the third period as Cedric Jackson picked up a leg strain, Duane Bailey and Tai Wynyard both picked up fourth foul and all three retired to the bench. Cedric Jackson sat out the remainder of the game but despite the set backs the Breakers were still hanging tough trailing by just a single point, 66-65.
Back to back triples from Shea Ili and Bartlett edged the Breakers ahead 75-74 with 6 minutes to play. The final period became the Ili and Bartlett show as they shared 21 points to keep the Breakers in the contest. Despite their efforts the team trailed by 5 points with 35 seconds left before a Bartlett three followed by an Ili layup tied the scores at the end of normal time 90-90.
Charles Jackson opened the five minutes extra time period with a dunk and in the final 2 minutes Ili and McDonald landed threes to keep the scores level at the 100 mark. Unfortunately a valiant SKY CITY Breakers effort was foiled by Cairns import Markel Starks, he made the last 5 points of the game including a deep triple to take the Taipans to victory 100-105.
Stand in coach Judd Flavell enjoyed his first stint as game coach against the Taipans.
“It was great fun to be put in that position. Obviously I get the chance to coach the players every week at training but taking charge was special.”
Flavell was delighted with the effort of his team.
“I was very happy for the guys. we didn’t speak about being undermanned. I thought the guys were up for the game and played with confidence.As a team we take a lot of positives from the performance.”
Flavell was impressed with some individual performances.
“Shea Ili had a big game, he brings lots of energy and gets stuck into it at the defensive end. Tonight he was getting into the paint and creating havoc. He also made some big shots towards the end. I’m happy and proud of his performance.”
“Everard (Bartlett) really came to life when we needed a scorer. He was a man we could go to regularly.”
“Charles Jackson really stepped up. He did a good job of staying out of foul trouble which enabled him to find his rhythm. He had a real presence at the defensive end which then flowed into his offensive game. I can’t talk about his character, he has fitted in from day one and the group have warmed to his personality.”