The Sky Sport Breakers pulled off an impressive pair of wins in Round 17 of the NBL thrashing the Bullets in Brisbane 99-71 on Thursday before seeing off Melbourne United at Spark Arena on Sunday.
Victories number 15 and 16 for the season have secured the Breakers a first play-off spot since 2017-18 and the first under the ownership of Matt Walsh.
The 80-74 defeat of Melbourne, which keeps the Breakers in the hunt for a second place finish, was meritorious on a number of counts.
Melbourne had won five games on the bounce and had also won the last nine encounters against the Breakers stretching back over the last three seasons – however it should be noted that all but one of those games were played in Australia.
Jarrell Brantley’s 18 points led the way for the Breakers with pivotal contributions also from Rob Loe (15 points & 6 rebounds), Rayon Rupert (12 points) and Derek Pardon (11 points & 8 rebounds).
However it was the Breakers fourth quarter defence that stood out forcing the 2021 NBL champions into a rash of turnovers while holding them scoreless for almost four minutes of that final stanza.
Cairns (17-9) and the Breakers (16-10) each have two games to play to decide the top three makeup. Sydney Kings (18-7) appear certain to win the regular season while fourth place Perth Wildcats (14-11) could make the top three but a number of results would have to go their way.
The numbers from the two Round 17 games:
Home v Melbourne:
The Breakers completed their regular season home programme with a 7-7 record (4-5 at Spark Arena).
It was Rob Loe’s 62nd win in Breakers colours – he draws level with Reuben Te Rangi in equal 12th spot as the winningest Breaker.
In his 83rd NBL game Izayah Le’afa brought up 700 career points – 425 of the points scored during his two seasons with South East Melbourne Phoenix.
Tom Abercrombie’s 2 points in the game means he has 100 points chalked up this season.
at Brisbane Bullets:
Brantley became the first Breaker to score 400 points this season – the power forward averaging 16.1 points per game for the season, 22.2 over the past five outings.
Derek Pardon pulled down his 200th rebound this season.
In other news former Breaker Corey Webster brought up 3,000 NBL points in Perth Wildcats recent win. He joins Tom Abercrombie (4,268 points), Kirk Penney (3,773) and Mika Vukona (3,218) in the distinguished Kiwi 3,000 points club.
The Breakers final two regular season games are at Illawarra on Thursday February 2nd and at the Brisbane Bullets 48 hours later.