The New Zealand Breakers won their second consecutive NBL Championship tonight in the deciding game three played in Auckland, defeating the Perth Wildcats 79-73.
In a sloppy second half, the Breakers were able to make shots when it counted, surviving a desperate Cats outfit that were able to stick around until the dying seconds.
New Zealand led for much of the second half but it was NBL veteran CJ Bruton who knocked down a couple of very late dagger three point baskets that put away the visiting Wildcats.
Bruton was clutch, but he received plenty of help from teammates, as well as the opposition, on route to championship number five.
Cedric Jackson came out in the third quarter extra aggressive and while he wasn’t spectacular from the free throw line, he attacked the basket, set up teammates and got to the free throw line.
Gary Wilkinson knocked down his third triple from four attempts early in third but neither side was able to get on top on the other due to the ridiculous amounts of off shots and lazy turnovers. An athletic alley-oop layup finish from Thomas Abercrombie, courtesy of Jackson, gave the home side a 58-54 three-quarter time lead.
Jackson helped double that lead at the beginning of the fourth by finding Pledger for an easy layup and then picked off a rough pass, resulting in free throws while baiting MVP Kevin Lisch into his fourth foul.
The MVP and Cam Tovey responded with two triples to tie the game but the Big Red, Gary Wilkinson, produced back to back baskets for the Breakers before knocking down two free throws with 2:37 remaining in the game.
Bruton knocked down a huge three when the Cats gave up another offensive rebound helping the Breakers to a seven point lead with 1:15 remaining.
Cats coach Rob Beveridge ran a beautiful play out of the timeout which resulted in a Shawn Redhage three pointer but another three to Bruton and a desperation block by Abercrombie on Redhage in transition all but sealed it for the champs.
Wilkinson led all scorers with 23 while Bruton had 16 and Pledger had 13. Redhage (18), Matthew Knight (17) and Lisch (15) were all fantastic for the Cats, but their emotional loss can only be blamed on the large number of second half turnovers and an inability to make shots when they need them.