Brown Jr.’s brilliance brings Breakers back

ROUND 18 of the NBL has kicked off with the New Zealand Breakers claiming a stirring comeback victory over the Illawarra Hawks, coming from the clouds to snatch a 10-point triumph behind Barry Brown Jr.‘s big last term.

The two sides clashed on Thursday night at WIN Entertainment Centre, and the Hawks looked to have caused some serious damage to the Breakers’ top-two aspirations, but the visitors erased a 16-point half time deficit to stay right in the hunt.

When the game was there to be won in the final term, Brown Jr. was the one who stood up for New Zealand, taking charge on the offensive end and leading the Breakers to a vital victory as they look to lock in a finals spot.

Illawarra Hawks (81) def. by New Zealand Breakers (91)

Barry Brown Jr. – 18 mins, 22 points, three rebounds

Brown Jr. did as he has done all season, and made the most of his court time coming off the bench, producing a game-high points total in significantly less minutes than his teammates and opponents.

He went at over a point-per-minute, and when coach Mody Maor gave him plenty of action in the crucial last quarter, he delivered a match-winning performance.

Of his 22 points, 15 came in the final term in a mesmerising clutch performance. He came onto the court with seven minutes to play in the fourth, and scored over half of his points in that time, showcasing how hot he can get in such little time.

Barry Brown Jr. delivered a crucial final quarter performance. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/AAP

The explosive guard did most of his work drawing contact in the paint, going 11/12 from the charity stripe and delivering 50 per cent of his points from the free throw line. It was particularly the case down the stretch, never relenting in his attack on the basket and forcing the Illawarra defence to foul him after he beat the opposition off the dribble.

Brown Jr. has struggled with inaccuracy at times over the course of the season, but his outing against the Hawks was quite efficient. Given his success at the free throw line, the import did not stray too far from what was working, only putting up eight shots and making five of those.

After being announced as a finalists for the the NBL’s Best Sixth Man, Brown Jr. has just about cemented claiming the honour after producing yet another fantastic offensive showing against Illawarra.

Having mastered the bench role perfectly, the guard showed once again how much he can hurt the opposition with his ferocious attack. The Breakers likely would not have made it past the Hawks if not for his final quarter performance, and he has a big role to play in the upcoming postseason.

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