New Zealand Breakers coach Mody Maor has hailed his side’s resilience after they clawed back from a record-equalling worst NBL opening quarter to overcome Cairns on the road by four points.
The Breakers marked their milestone 600th NBL game with 68-64 triumph over the table-topping Taipans in a slow march of a contest that ended with a frantic final few minutes.
Barry Brown Jr was the difference for the Breakers, who matched the NBL’s lowest first quarter haul with just five points – to score their third away win of the season.
After missing three games with hamstring tightness, Brown’s 24 points including seven in the final term proved crucial as his club overcame a busy schedule to pull away with a gritty road win.
“We’ve played four games in nine days and think we felt the weight of the load, the travel, of the continuous kind of everything, and we needed a little bit of a shake-up,” Maor said.
“Our guys responded like I knew they would and I’m very happy that the result reflected it.”
Maor’s side faced a five-point deficit heading into the final quarter and finally found their first lead of the game when Rayan Rupert nailed a three-pointer from the corner.
After both clubs jostled for the lead down the stretch, the Breakers vulnerable in the dying stages.
But DJ Hogg, who top scored for Cairns with 25 points, missed an easy lay-up under the basket at 67-64 and New Zealand sealed the game at the stripe through Derek Pardon for their four-point victory.
Taipans coach Adam Forde said the loss was disappointing and felt his side’s early lead didn’t reflect their overall dominance.
“It was just a grind of a game and it never felt like we were in control of it,” Forde said.
“We weren’t aggressive, we weren’t attacking, we weren’t moving the ball.
“Credit to New Zealand; they’ve had a heck of a schedule.To come here and get the win, I know they’ll be happy with that.”
Their win was miraculous to say the least. The Breakers, despite entering the record books for the wrong reasons when down 16-5 at quarter-time, still only trailed by nine points at the long break.
They missed their first 14 shots and were scoreless until the seven minute mark, finishing the first term with 1-17.
But they would go on to hit seven three pointers in the second half, make seven assists and pull through to win their fifth game in just 16 days, moving to four wins and two losses for the season.
The victory also ensures New Zealand are just above 50 percent overall through 600 NBL matches, with 301 wins and 299 losses.