From Murray McKinnon
Challenged by the Perth Wildcats after being defeated by them last Friday, the Breakers came out with fire in their bellies to make amends for their fans.
And that’s what they did in emphatic style especially in the fourth quarter to snare the Wildcats 99-78.
Perth played the better first quarter with Jarrod Kenny and Jermaine Beal able to roam free from the perimeter to drop in triple three pointers and a free throw from Shaun Redhage had the score 31-25 in favour of Perth. The Breakers 25 points included a three pointer from Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie and some excellent work from Charles Jackson in the paint. Abercrombie stole the show in the second quarter with eight points and skilful work from Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger in the post had the Breakers ahead 54-48 at the major break. The lead went out to 13 mid way through the third quarter before Casey Prather pulled it back for Perth with a seven point run. Going into the final period the Breakers were ahead 69-64.
But then the heavens opened up with Webster and Abercrombie showering the basket with four three pointers in quick succession to the delight of a crowd of 3602. Coupled with solid defence the Breakers roared home with a 20-6 run in the final five minutes. Abercrombie top scored with 23, Webster was on 21 and Charles Jackson 19. Vukona and Pledger both had 11. Vikona also became the fourth Breaker to register 500 assists for the Club.
Dean Vickerman likened Webster’s effort to a boxing match.
“Corey threw some pretty massive knock out punches tonight,” he said.
Vickerman said that they went back and analysed the game from last Friday and talked a lot about defending the paint.
“There were challenges today in that shoot around, everyone got challenged we hated it (being beaten) and it didn’t sit well with any of us and we came into the review the other day and we talked about being soft and that’s a word that doesn’t sit right with this team, but we’re honest enough to say what we were and we were able to make a change tonight and credit to the ‘bigs’ they were outstanding in their ability just to protect the paint and that’s what we talked about a lot before the game, there was some incredible number of that 52 points from the last week that were in the charge circle and so we had to protect that area and they did a great job of doing that tonight,” said Vickerman.
“They played some unbelievable basketball in that first quarter and I thought our ability to weather that, to continue to score through that second period and really turn up the defence for those last three quarters was outstanding,” he added.
Pledger said that the defeat last Friday definitely played on their minds going into the game.
“We were a lot more physical tonight and some of the things we talked about like guarding Jawai, the man weighs like 150kg, he’s pretty hard to handle down there one on one, but I thought the guards did a great job of digging in on him and making him pass it, crowding him and making him uncomfortable and we did a good job of attacking them and they got into some foul trouble in the first half as well and I thought that we stepped up to that challenge,” said Pledger.
“In terms of size they’re the biggest team in the League and if we can do what we did tonight against them there’s no reason why we can’t do again to every team and we just have to go into the games with the same mentality that same sort of kind of pissed off, kind of chip on the shoulder that we had tonight and we can’t just bring that against Perth and then against a team with a front line that perhaps isn’t quite as big, or isn’t quite as good, you have to bring that against that team as well,” he added.
Vickerman was particularly pleased with Pledger’s phase of play in the second quarter.
“It was amazing play right on half time, when the Chief came up with a rebound and was able to put it back in and that gave us a lot of energy in the second half,” he said.
“I thought Tommy had 12 shoot attempts at half time and that’s about what he’s been averaging on the season and he was aggressive and during that period when they were really scoring I thought he made some tough plays just to keep the scoreboard ticking over for us and then maintained it in the second half,” added Vickerman.
The Wildcats’ coach Trevor Gleeson said that the Breakers got away on them over the second half.
“They got momentum in that second quarter, we got loose with the ball and we got suckered into some silly offensive fouls and we didn’t play smart,” he said.
Gleeson, not pleased with the foul count, had a word the referee at the half time before joining his team in the changing room.
“I thought there were plays and contacts in the game, and when the foul counts 16 to 7 at half time you know you are pushing up hill that night,” said Gleeson.
“We had our chance, up until the third quarter we worked well, we got back into the contest and then that last five minutes was terrible, we went away from what we were trying to do, obviously they got hot from the perimeter and blew the game open, which they can do.
“Our defence is pretty bad, you’re not going to win in this League if you allow 99 points, quite simple. We’ve been hanging our hat on defence for the last few years, you’re not going to get it done if you can’t defend down the other end. We’ve got some work to do on that part of the game. Corey and Tom were pretty good and we take short cuts underneath screens and you can’t do that against those guys.”
Gleeson said despite the fact where both teams sit on the ladder they are always good encounters.
“It’s always good battles it doesn’t matter where we are on the ladder even when the Breakers didn’t make the playoffs it was still close games it just has that rivalry, it’s a good healthy rivalry and the Breakers rose to the occasion tonight and we’re pretty disappointed down the stretch and we’ll learn from it and hopefully get better,” he said.
Jermaine Beal who scored 23 points for Perth said it was a bad loss for the team.
“In the last five minutes in the fourth we missed some assignments we lost our discipline and the Breakers just bust the game wide open.
“Right now was a bad loss for us and if we see the Breakers again this season we do but right now our main focus is just to get back and practice and try and get better for our game our Friday,” he said.
Vickerman said that Charles Jackson has really come into his own in the game.
“He has taken time to find shoot block timing and he’s really started to find it. It’s not anything that you do in practice it’s just game time. When we talk about Charles Jackson we talk about he’s the fastest guy big in the League and when he puts his head down and sprints as with Ced’s touch-down pass it’s just the quality that I don’t think anyone else in the League has. His attack on the offensive glass and then his composure is just getting better. He rushed things a little bit early in the season and now he’s just taking his time and his free throw shooting has continued to improve,” said Vickerman.
“Having a young energy, a raw energy is certainly infectious on a lot of the guys.”
Gleeson said he was pleased with the 20 minutes of play from Jarrod Kenny.
“He’s been magnificent, he’s one of the best. I wish I had have known about him last year, as I would have brought him in last year he’s been great he’s hard working, he’s team first mentality. To come in to play a small role and then for Damo to be out for the 19 games, that he was out and then Jarrod comes straight into the line-up and we haven’t skipped a beat and to have the record we did without Damian Martin in the line-up is fantastic. He’s tough, he’s been playing the last month in pain and he doesn’t whinge doesn’t moan he just plays and I love him as a basketball player and he’s doing everything right on the team and hopefully we’ll have him for a long time,” said Gleeson.
“It’s the half way mark in the season we’ve got 14 games and we want to keep improving and make sure we’re playing the right kind of basketball at the end of the year and healthy. Last year we weren’t healthy,” he added.
During the game Martin took a heavy knock in the mouth which appeared to have dislodged a tooth.
Vickerman is hopeful that Tai Wesley will be able to join the team in Townsville for their game on Saturday evening.
“Tai Wesley did a shoot around and got through most of it and then we got the blood test back just to say he’s not quite right, there’s a couple of spots that he’s a little sore still that are not ready. We’ve asked whether he’s a possibility to play in Townsville and we haven’t got a response back yet. But there’s a definite chance that he could travel,” said Vickerman.
There was a sour note to the game when Wildcats’ Nate Jawai, an Australian of Torres Strait Islander descent, was subbed off after receiving his third foul. Gleeson explained after the game that a racial comment was hurled in Jawai’s direction as he returned to the bench.
“When Nate came off there was some racial (comments). We just wanted extra security when he was on the bench. We’ll take that up with the League afterwards. It wasn’t pretty, don’t want to see that to incite reaction from the players. I wanted security behind the bench, when you’ve got the place packed to pick out who is yelling out that, it’s pretty dam hard so at least the security there will ward that kind of stuff off. We don’t come here to get racially abused and we don’t want to see that in sport.
“New Zealand crowds have been great, been coming here ten years and they’ve been fantastic providing a great atmosphere and you don’t want that stuff. We’ll try to clean it up in the right channels and hopefully it won’t happen again,” said Gleeson.
Vickerman was disappointed that it had happened.
“You never want that from your home crowd. I thought our crowd was outstanding tonight I thought they got behind us and you never want that to spill over that way, you want our crowd to get on the other team but obviously there’s a line and I hope our fans haven’t crossed it.”