After slowly gaining the upper hand in the first half, the Phoenix broke away with a stunning 29-9 third quarter, putting the game away with a period to play. Seemingly hitting everything, the home side produced a masterful offensive performance in front of the Melbourne crowd, claiming third spot with a terrific showing.
Although there were plenty of contributors for South East Melbourne, it was Ryan Broekhoff who led the charge across all four quarters. The former NBA wing produced his best performance of the season after overcoming injury issues and some inaccuracy from the field.
SEM Phoenix (111) def. Illawarra Hawks (72)
Ryan Broekhoff – 21 points, seven rebounds, one block
Broekhoff was back to his best in the win over the Hawks, hurting the opposition with his ability to find the bottom of the net. Shooting 6/11 from the field and 3/5 from behind the arc, the sharpshooter was able to finish off some fast ball movement from the Phoenix.
He started off the game in reasonably slow fashion, not registering any points until there was less than two minutes remaining on the clock for quarter number one, which came in the form of a pair of free throws. Although they were the only points he scored in the term, Broekhoff still played a crucial role on the boards, pulling down rebounds on both ends by flying third up as the bigs jostled for position, which allowed him to snatch a handful of boards in the period.
The 32-year-old managed to turn things around in the second quarter, registering the first points of the term with a nice lay-up thanks to a timely cut inside. He really got going in the final half of the quarter, draining one of his trademark three-pointers and continuing to draw contact inside the paint and punish the opposition at the free throw line. A three-point shot from Broekhoff late in the half gave the Phoenix an eight-point lead at the main break.
The wing’s hot form continued into the second half, proving a valuable contributor in the game-breaking third term. He continued to fire from behind the arc and drained his third triple of the game early in the period, working hard around off-ball screens to get open. It resulted in the defence overcorrecting in guarding Broekhoff at the perimeter and sending him back to the charity stripe with some sloppy contesting. Thanks to his work, the Phoenix broke the match open in the third term and led by 28 points at the final change.
Although the result was sealed, Broekhoff and the Phoenix were not taking the foot off the pedal just yet, with the former Dallas Maverick cutting inside for one last basket before heading to the bench early in the final term, topping off a terrific individual and team performance.