Brantley breathes life into Breakers as NZ force game five

IT WAS the only way this season could conclude given how exciting the NBL has proven in the 2022/23 fixture, as the New Zealand Breakers defeated the Sydney Kings to force a fifth and deciding match in the Championship Series.

The Breakers came into game four at Spark Arena on Sunday afternoon facing elimination, with Sydney holding a shot to go back-to-back. However, New Zealand burst out of the gates with a splendid two-way performance in the opening half, restricting the Kings to just 27 points in the first two quarters.

Although the reigning champions inevitably fought back in the third quarter, drawing within three points with six minutes to play. In the end, some big plays from the home side down the stretch ended up being the defining factor, as the Breakers claimed a 10-point win. The series will come down to game five at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday night.

Delivering an elite defensive performance and holding the Kings to just 70 points for the match, the Breakers needed to match it down the other end. New Zealand was able to produce an efficient offensive showing, led by the efforts of Jarrell Brantley. The star forward was at his damaging best against a physical Kings defence, and inspired his troops in a must-win clash.

New Zealand Breakers (80) def. Sydney Kings (70)

Jarrell Brantley – 23 points, five rebounds, one assist

Brantley stood up for the Breakers against some of the best sides in the biggest games over the course of the season, but he may not have produced a more important performance than what was shown on Sunday.

In a game with some of the competition’s biggest stars, no one scored more points than Brantley, who made the most of the post up opportunities created by his teammates. His 23 points proved to be vital in the context of the match.

Brantley was one of the main factors in New Zealand getting off to a hot start, combining well with William McDowell-White to help the Breakers to a scoreboard advantage.

The talented forward liked to post up in the low block, and although a mismatch was preferred, Brantley was not afraid to go one-on-one against the likes of Xavier Cooks and co., often finding success.

He shot 9/15 from the field, and even chimed in for a pair of timely three-pointers later in the match, rarely wasting a scoring opportunity and proving a reliable source of points for the Breakers.

In one of the most important games in club history, it was Brantley who stood up and took control of the match. His offence proved to be invaluable for the Breakers, and was no slouch on the defensive end either, taking it up to the minor champions as New Zealand kept its season alive.

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