By Murray McKinnon
The New Zealand Breakers hit their straps at the right time to overcome the semi-final challenge from minor premiers Melbourne United. The Breakers dominated the fourth quarter to record a 91-78 victory at the Vector Arena on Saturday night.
A happy and contented coach Dean Vickerman and forward Tai Wesley spoke to the media post game.
“We’ve been on a six game win streak and that felt like two weeks and the six game losing streak felt like three months kind of thing. I’m just so pleased that we were able to get over the hump and find this form at the right time of the season and we only found it just at the right time. With this group there were big moments, and with big games they go to another level and we saw that in the second half. There were some big moments in the game that needed to happen and Ced, Tai, Tommy and a lot of people made big plays for us tonight and a lot of that you can’t coach,” said Vickerman.
“I thought over in Melbourne (where the Breakers won 91-82) that Tommy really wanted the basketball at different stages and tonight you could just see there was an absolute confidence that he was going to make plays,” he added.
A key to the Breakers success was the play from Tai Wesley in the post going toe to toe with Hakim Warrick.
“We know what he (Tai) is capable of at the offensive end but his commitment to the defensive end was unbelievable tonight. We rebounded and shared the ball a lot better in the second half,” said Vickerman.
Wesley said it was all a matter of timing.
“We knew if we weathered the storm we would get our moments and take advantage of them. We lifted to another level, when you see a guy like Mika Vukona die on the floor for your team, you go out and die on the floor for your team too,” he said.
“I don’t have a preference as to who I would like to play in the final, I’m grateful to be in the grand final and I wish the game was sooner,” added Wesley.
Vickerman would like to see the final game played at the Vector Arena.
“I’d love to come back here if there was an opportunity and pack this place out and have the final here.
“The schedule for the finals doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, if one of the goals of the NBL this year was to put the best product on the floor I’m not sure that scenario puts the best basketball product on the floor,” he said.
Vickerman in his final season with the Breakers is enjoying the winning records he is setting.
“You never get bored with winning. The whole group did a haka for me the other day and that’s something that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”