Breakers stun competition with huge boilover
ROUND 10 of the 2021/22 National Basketball League (NBL) season got underway on Wednesday night, with the New Zealand Breakers welcoming the Illawarra Hawks to their ‘home away from home’ at MyState Bank Arena. The Hawks entered the match heavily favoured, given their strong start to the season and the form slump of the Breakers in recent weeks. However, the entire league was stunned when the home side burst out of the gates to claim a big margin early and shock one of the championship hopefuls. This ended up being a lead that they never gave up, producing one of the strongest team performances we have seen this season, and claiming a whopping 23-point victory in possibly the biggest upset of the year.
New Zealand Breakers
The match opened with both sides firing with ball in hand, as things looked set for a high-scoring affair. The Hawks jumped out to an early lead and proceedings looked to be panning out as expected, but the Breakers lifted their play in the minutes that followed, and it was apparent that we had a game on our hands. Illawarra could not stop its opponents from getting to the free throw line, as the Breakers kept their opponents at arms’ length for most of the term. When Peyton Siva‘s two shots from the charity stripe found the bottom of the net, New Zealand led by six points, a margin that carried into quarter-time.
Although it seemed unlikely, the Breakers actually lifted their play in the second period, breaking away from a stunned Hawks side. The lead ballooned out to double-digits in the opening minute of the quarter, as the Hawks found themselves unable to match the intensity and scoring output of the opposition. It was clear that the Breakers had done their homework, with Illawarra unable to find holes and flaws in the defensive strategies they faced as they found themselves blown out before half-time had even rolled around. The main break could not have come at a better time for the visitors, who trailed by a whopping 19 points when the buzzer sounded, as they looked to stop the bleeding in the second half.
The Hawks were finally able to get their game rolling in the third term as they looked to trim the margin back. Illawarra’s stars were able to get on the board as they came out with a much more aggressive mindset, which worked wonders. They were able to get the Breakers defence on the back foot for the first time in the match, as players such as Antonius Cleveland and Tyler Harvey got themselves into the game as their side slowly chipped away at the deficit. When the final break rolled around, the Hawks trailed by just 13 points, which has been shown to be achievable for a few sides throughout the season.
The scoring struggles of the Breakers did not carry over into the fourth term, as the tables turned once again to see the home side clearly outperform their opponents for the final 10 minutes of the match. New Zealand was able to wrestle back momentum as they were able to slow down the scoring of the Hawks that troubled them in the third quarter. They were able to find the bottom of the net from whatever scoring method they chose, whether it be inside the paint, from mid-range or from behind the arc. The lead once again exploded as the Breakers finished the match as 23-point victors.
CLOSING THOUGHTS …
For the Breakers, it was big man Yannick Wetzell who proved to be the standout in what was a strong team performance. He finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks in what was a typically impressive outing for the talented center. Siva was able to provide some scoring too, pouring in 14 points off the bench to give his side a real boost whenever he hit the court. For the Hawks, Harvey and Cleveland led the way to combine for 33 points as they looked to bravely keep their side in the contest.