Close games were the order of the day in the second round of the 2016 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Men’s competition.
The Breakers Development team included all three SKYCITY Breakers D players Ethan Rusbatch, Sam Waardenburg and Derone Raukawa as well as rostered player Jordan Ngatai for their encounter with Mai FM 88 Sixers.
Raukawa, returning after a 6 week lay off with a badly broken finger, was quickly in the action combining well with Ngatai and knocking down a couple of trade mark jumpers as the Breakers forged a 41-35 advantage
Brook Ruscoe showed touches of class to keep the Sixers in touch as did the double B forward punch of Patrich Bolstad and Nick Barrow.
A couple of typical Manny Matambanadzo slashing penetrative drives were countered by Isaac Letoa and Rusbatch triples.
Johnny Fesolai edged Sixers ahead at half-time 57-55 as they continued to trouble the Breakers on the glass.
The Sixers opened the second half with a 9-2 run but quickly racked up fouls gifting the Breakers opportunities at the foul line, the Breakers drawing level 54 each courtesy of Rusbatch
Thomas Whyte and Kruz Perrott-Hunt sunk threes although a drive and the bonus from Ruscoe kept Sixers 80-77 to the good at three-quarter time.
A Sam Waardenburg put back tied the scores with four minutes to play.
It was 90 apiece with three to play but a couple of Dan Fotu defensive efforts turned the game in favour of the Breakers. On consecutive plays the swingman came up with an athletic block and a key defensive rebound allowing Ngatai the opportunity to score at the offensive end to open a narrow 93-90 lead.
Ana Haku took advantage of some sloppy Breakers defensive work to narrow the gap to a single point but the experienced Tall Blacks pair of Rusbatch and Ngatai sealed a narrow 96-94 win for the Breakers.
Breakers 96 – Ngatai 22, Rusbatch 17, Waardenburg 14, Fotu 11, Perrott-Hunt 9, Raukawa 7, Whyte 7
Mai FM 88 Sixers 94 – Ruscoe 24, Fesolai 16, Haku 14, McIntosh 11, Matambanadzo 9, Barrow 8
In the second game Justin Bailey, Carl Buck and Brandon Lucas, a senior last season at East Central University Tigers, made up an all American back court for The Birdmen, the trio helping them to remain in touch with 68a Nelson Street at half time.
Nelson Street held a 57-53 advantage with Marco Alexander and Lindsay Tait prominent.
Lucas led all scorers with 19 points at the break, Tait next best with 17 points for Nelson Street.
The in form Jaylen Gerrand and Lucas landed threes but a spinning drive from Liam Thornton and a couple of Joe Webb scores reduced the arrears before James and Bailey added buckets to keep Birdmen ahead at three-quarter time 89-82.
A Gerrand three brought up the 100 for Birdmen necessitating a time by Nelson Street – trailing by ten points with 5:35 to play and without the influential Dillon Boucher (fouled out early in the fourth quarter).
Joe Webb and Linus Jakszt gave Nelson Street some hope but Buck and Sam Aruwa took the advantage, in favour of the Birdmen, to 112-103 entering the last two minutes and that was enough to seal the win.
Birdmen 116 – Bailey 26, Lucas 26, Gerrand 17, Buck 16, Sam Aruwa 13, Schipper 10
68a Nelson St 110 – Tait 31, Alexander 29, Boucher 14, Jakszt 14, Webb 12, Thornton 10