From Murray McKinnon
It was sweet revenge for the Breakers, after losing in controversial circumstances by one point two weeks ago in Melbourne, to come away with a solid fourth quarter slog to beat Melbourne 80-69 at Vector Arena on Sunday.
It was billed as the grudge match between point guards Corey Webster and Melbourne’s Chris Goulding and Goulding definitely got plenty of ribbing from the vocal 6749 spectators in attendance.
However Webster was the star of the show, scoring nearly half of the Breakers’ points, with a season league high of 39 which included seven from the outer perimeter.
The first quarter Melbourne with a couple of threes from Stephen Holt and Daniel Kickert went out to a 15-9 lead before Webster went on a run with three straight field goals, a bucket from Charles Jackson and then a three pointer from Webster followed by three from the free throw stripe to suddenly have the score at 23-18. At the end of the quarter the Breakers led 23-22.
Webster did not start in the second quarter but was brought in after a time out when Melbourne took a hold with Holt proving spark in the backcourt. Tom Abercrombie showed a couple of good plays with a three and a quick lay-up. Melbourne went to the half time leading 35-32 and they led at the three quarter 52-51. Webster then took control in the final ten minutes with a lesson in three point shooting.
Asked if it was a bit of a pay-back time Webster said it was the win he was after more than anything else.
“That was in the back of my mind, ever since it happened but honestly I wasn’t really thinking about that during the game I was just trying to help the team where ever I could and to get the win and luckily I shot the ball well,” said Webster.
“It was satisfying beating them tonight, they’re at the top of the league right now and that’s where we want to be and we’re working our way up there so it was a good win for us.
“I had great screens from my team mates that’s all it is really. When you had a couple you start to feel good about yourself and the rim seems like it gets a bit bigger, but it’s credit to my team mates for getting me so open and when you’re that open at this level most people make wide open shots.
“We’ve always want to protect our home court and now that we’ve got a road win we can keep building on that,” he added.
Coach of Melbourne Dean Demopoulos was gracious in defeat, saying that he has a lot of respect for the Breakers and didn’t think that they had come out fired up because of what had happened in their previous game.
“I don’t think that had anything to do with it, they’re champions of the League and they’ve been perennial champions. Four out of five years they come out pretty fired up by nature, that’s one of the elements of who they are. You’ve got to beat this team, they’re the reigning champions. They’ve got the cup (trophy) and everyone else is thirsty,” said a personable Demopoulos.
He conceded that Webster was the key to the Breakers victory.
“Much too much Corey Webster tonight. He’s a terrific player and made some tough shots, I thought we defended him okay for the majority of the time but he made some terrific shots, they got him open they went to him and that’s what champions do.
“I thought it was two pretty good teams knocking heads more than anything else. And one team that’s done a whole lot more together than the other team and that’s the reason why you look up and it looks like San Antonio here. The banners they tell you why you’re in the kind of fight you’re in.
“By the way I loved it here, terrific City, I wasn’t here long but I had a chance just to walk around briefly and looks like you celebrate your team and back it and you got a good product, hats off.
“It’s not a rivalry situation yet between the two teams, we’ve got to win some games and get into the type of post season play that they (Breakers) do before it becomes a rivalry, I think right now it’s pretty one sided,” he said.
Former NBA assistant Demopoulos was asked if Webster is in the same mould as NBA shooter Steph Curry.
“That’s a good analogy, he was tonight. There’s a lot of fine players in this league, but Corey’s at the top of the list for sure and that was a great, great performance. I’ve seen Kobe (Bryant) get 60, and I’ve seen players get high numbers but Corey’s 39 was quiet, very efficient and he had a hell of a game,” said Demopoulos.
Dean Vickerman coach of the Breakers said it was timely for Webster to shine.
“I thought at different times it was one of those grind of a games, but Corey did a hell of a job defensively too and that’s something we spoke about, out of him or Goulding who’s going to play the best defence and I thought Corey did a hell of a job there. Both teams were struggling to score and Corey worked hard to get open and that’s one of the things he’s doing right now he’s sprinting off screens, people are screening well for him, creating enough separation to get clean looks and he obviously shot the hell out of the three ball tonight.
“We put Corey at the point guard as Ced wasn’t a hundred percent tonight and we went back to the group that closed out the game at Sydney the other night and he did really good job of getting a mixture of run and play for himself and his team mates and I thought that was another evolution of his game in being able to dictate what happens at the offensive end,” said Vickerman.
“Ced made some amazing lay ups tonight, his reverse lay ups, kiss off the glass high, we know he’s a brilliant player even not at hundred percent he put in a hell of a performance. I thought Pledger was really good and he continues to come on and that was a big post move for him and he hasn’t had a lot of those opportunities but it was a key time for him to go in, just back Warwick (Hakim) in and make a key bucket there.
“We still didn’t rebound as well as we wanted to against this team, Majok got to the offensive glass too much for my liking, the other goals we set ourselves tonight was to hold them under 30 percent from the three point line and that went a long way to helping us get the win tonight.
“Mika, that was his best game of the year, when we needed him he came up with key offensive rebounds he made his own little post moves and as the season wears along he’s going to get more touches in the post and be more aggressive as well. Get Ced healthy, get Mika healthy, get Wesley back and get our combinations together again we’ve got to just keep building, it’s massive for us we’ve got a Perth series to finish off over there and then back here so it’s going to be a key series and certainly one we want to win,” he added.
Maintaining a clean record on the home court is also a key priority for Vickerman.
“I stress to the guys how important winning at home is and now that we have six in a row we’ve just got to keep building on it, I’ve got to stop it with timeouts when I feel like that we’re letting it down, because we just can’t let anything go at home it’s going to be so important to your record and how you finish the end of the year,” said Vickerman.
Cedric Jackson scored 10 for the Breakers and Abercrombie 9. Goulding top scored for United with 19, Holt was on 17 and Kickert 13.
Majok with eight points was philosophical after their latest loss.
“We’ve lost three games in a row, but I think we’re going to be alright. Everybody’s coming for us because of the great start that we have had so we’ve just got to regroup and come back even stronger,” said Majok.
The Breakers play Perth in Perth on Friday night and then the return game against Perth is at the North Shore Events Centre on Wednesday 2 December.