A stunningly dominant big man performance from Shawn Long backed up by Tai Wesley has seen the New Zealand Breakers turn an eight-point half-time deficit into an impressive 101-96 win over the Adelaide 36ers at Titanium Security Arena.
The two teams had done battle in a spirited contest at the same venue last Sunday with Adelaide winning and they resumed hostilities on Friday night and it was more of the season with no love lost between either side.
The 36ers looked in control most of the first half leading by as much as 11. But it was all the Breakers in the second half, outscoring the Sixers 61 points to 47 to win by six.
It was on the back of the inside dominance of Long and Wesley.
Long was incredible and quite the imposing force ending the night with 28 points, 18 rebounds and three statement blocked shots while shooting 12/21 from the field.
Wesley added 19 points, 13 rebounds and four assists while Richard turned three first half points into an 18-point outing where he knocked down all six of his three-point attempts.
Corey Webster also bounced back to form with 17 points.
Nathan Sobey battled hard despite his frustrations on a number of levels, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Adelaide.
Ramone Moore, Brendan Teys and Harry Froling all added 14 points for the home team.
For the Breakers, it was revenge best served cold. They avenged their horror loss to Adelaide five days ago but the last two minutes had it all as the 36ers drew to within five points.
Teys was in all the action after committing an unsportsmanlike foul on a Long dunk attempt. Moments later he grappled with Webster for a loose ball in the open court, before Richard sealed the deal with his sixth three from long-range without a miss.
Long and Wesley combined for 21 last quarter points and with the game in the balance, Long blocked two shots in-a-row before slamming home an alley-oop delivered by Wesley.
After talking about mixing things up, Breakers coach Kevin Braswell inserted Webster into the starting line-up in place of Richard. The change in personnel worked well from the outset as the Breakers went on a 16-8 run in the first quarter.
Adelaide coach Joey Wright benched his starters in place of his ‘energy guys’ led by Teys. Two quick three pointers from the 199-gamer trimmed the margin to five.
The 36ers bench dominated the visitors with a 15-3 advantage and despite the Breakers’ hard work, Adelaide led 27-26 at quarter-time.
But Long was causing all sorts of headaches for Wright’s crew in the second quarter before things got interesting with Finn Delany earning a technical for tangling with Anthony Drmic.
Despite Long’s heroics and Delany’s war of words, Adelaide led 49-41 at half-time having led by as much as 11.
The Breakers’ went on a 13-5 run to start the third quarter behind Wesley in the post. Demetrius Conger scored his first points but it availed little as Webster took the scoring lead with New Zealand working on top.
The teams had to be separated in the dying embers of the quarter as Wesley shared his thoughts. Richard hit three deep balls in succession and the Breakers were up 70-67 at the final change.
The Breakers are back home to host the Perth Wildcats on Sunday while Adelaide heads to the ‘Gong to play the Illawarra Hawks next Thursday.
NBL ROUND 12
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 104 (Long 28, Wesley 19, Richard 18)
ADELAIDE 36ERS 96 (Sobey 23, Moore 14, Teys 14, Froling 14)