The opening game of round three of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Men’s competition on Saturday featured The Birdmen and Breakers Development.
The Breakers were bolstered by the inclusion of Shea Ili – the point guard working his way back to full fitness as he recovers from a stress fracture in the lower back.
Some sloppy Breakers ball retention was seized on by Justin Bailey for the Birdmen before Ethan Rusbatch landed a couple of long threes and Thomas Whyte a reverse lay-up to take the Breakers to a 20-16 lead at quarter time.
The Breakers soon took their advantage into double figures and beyond as SKYCITY Breakers Number 91, Derone Raukawa racked up nine straight points – Raukawa debuted for the senior team the night before.Ili and Jaylen Gerrand exchanged threes but the Breakers lead was 53-36 by the half.
Only six players made up the Birdman flock in this one and those depleted numbers began to tell in the second half. Bailey, Tipene Friday and Brandon Lucas, the former East Central University Tiger guard soldiered on, but the youthful Breakers wave led by Dan Fotu and Kruz Perrott-Hunt prevailed.
Breakers Development 112 – Rusbatch 23, Raukawa 21, Fotu 18, Perrott-Hunt 14, Ili 10, Whyte 7.
Birdmen 78 – Lucas 23, Bailey 18, Gerrand 17, Friday 9, Sampson Aruwa 8
In the second game Hayden Allen, making his first appearance of the season, was inserted into 68a Nelson Street’s starting lineup. He joined two other former Tall Blacks Dillon Boucher and Lindsay Tait in a potent squad.
Mai FM 88 Sixers also boasted a couple of former TB’s with Brook Ruscoe and Josh Bloxham bossing their backcourt. Both were prominent in a first quarter edged by Nelson St 26-25.
Nick Barrow and Johnny Fesolai were prominent in the Sixers front court and with Chris McIntosh knocking down a couple of threes in the shadows of half-time they trailed by just a half dozen, 56-50 at half-time.
A triple from Liam Thornton and regular forays into the key by Tait, Allen and Marco Alexander kept Nelson St ahead but a fine shooting display from Ruscoe (6 from 11 threes) kept the Sixers in contention – 83-74 down at half-time.
More threes from Bloxham and Ruscoe threatened an upset but Boucher set up Linus Jakzst and Hyrum Harris for inside opportunities to help inflict the first defeat of the season on the Sixers.
68a Nelson St 119 – Tait 31, Allen 24, Harris 20, Alexander 17, Jakszt 8
Mai FM 88 Sixers 109 – Ruscoe 27, Haku 16, Bloxham 15, Fesolai 13, Barrow 12, Will Heather 12