WHAT a story the National Basketball League (NBL) could be producing in season 2021/22. Friday night saw the action for Round 20 continue, with a Good Friday clash between the New Zealand Breakers and the Tasmania JackJumpers at MyState Bank Arena. With the Wildcats suffering a shock loss at the hands of the 36ers, Tasmania has found itself an unlikely contender for the final spot inside the top four, despite being the maiden season for the competition’s newest side.
However, with opportunity came expectation, and the pressure was suddenly on the JackJumpers to get the win over a struggling Breakers side. To top it all off, the JackJumpers had the home court advantage, as New Zealand has been hosting games on the Apple Isle due to border restrictions. In the end, Tasmania was able to get the job done behind another brilliant offensive showing from Josh Adams, who has led the way all year. The Breakers were kept in the contest from a season-best outing from Robert Loe, but fell just two points short of causing the upset, adding to their woes in close games.
New Zealand Breakers
New Zealand Breakers (86) def. by Tasmania JackJumpers (88)
The intent of the JackJumpers was clear early in the contest; score fast and often. Their high octane offence was too much for the Breakers defence, conceding 28 points in the first quarter alone. Tasmania’s six-point quarter time lead was soon erased, as New Zealand tightened up a bit on the defensive end of the court. The offence of the Breakers came largely inside the paint, as they either scored or were fouled on nearly every possession to close out the half. Back-to-back buckets from Loe saw the margin reduced to just one point heading into the main break, setting up a cracker of a second half.
New Zealand’s momentum continued to roll into the second half, getting off to the ideal start in the third term. Once again, it was the efforts of Loe that got the home side going, first converting the tough and-one before backing it up with another finish inside. These efforts sparked the Breakers, as they snuck out to a five-point lead thanks to some deadly shooting. Heading into the last, the JackJumpers trailed by three, and needed to lift if they were to get the job done. Adams led the charge, constantly finding a way inside and sliding past the interior defence of New Zealand. The Breakers could not keep up, conceding the lead with minutes remaining, and when Thomas Abercrombie‘s three-pointer proved wayward, the match was over, with Tassie emerging three-point winners.
As has been the case for the last few months, Adams led the way on the offensive end for the JackJumpers with 23 points. He was a major catalyst for the last quarter surge, and is continuing to play a key role in Tasmania’s charge for the finals. Also contributing in the win was Jack McVeigh, who continues to prove one of the NBL’s most valuable recruits of the offseason. For the Breakers, there is not much more that Loe could have done with ball in hand, producing a game-high 27 points and making 11 of his 14 attempts from the field in a magnificent display of efficiency.