Kings dethroned as Breakers end three-peat hopes

THERE will be a new winner in the National Basketball League (NBL) in the coming weeks, after the Sydney Kings had their season ended by the New Zealand Breakers in the play-in tournament on Wednesday night.

After the Tasmania JackJumpers defeated the Illawarra Hawks in the first play-in match, the Breakers and the Kings faced off to see who would face the latter in the second stage of the tournament.

The match took place at Qudos Bank Arena, and gave the Kings a significant advantage, with the home side favoured to take home the win, especially given the injuries sustained by New Zealand in recent weeks.

However, the Breakers defied a 13-point deficit to produce an astounding comeback victory to keep their season alive and emerge seven-point winners.

Sydney Kings (76) def. by New Zealand Breakers (83)

There was plenty of excitement surrounding the matchup between these two sides, not just because of the stakes attached, but also due to the fact that it is a rematch of last year’s Championship Series, which saw the Kings take home the chocolates.

Things went to plan for the hosts in the opening term, outscoring New Zealand 22-15 and looked to have improved on the doubts surrounding the team’s defence and effort. The seven-point quarter time lead saw Qudos Bank Arena play a role in the match as Kings fans were thrilled with their team taking an early advantage on the scoreboard.

The Breakers looked stronger in the second, but had their hearts in their mouths as key big Zylan Cheatham went down with an ankle injury. However, he returned to play a crucial role for New Zealand. Despite avoiding another key injury, the deficit stretched out to eight points at the main change.

The script was flipped completely coming out of half time, with Sydney’s effort and care dropping in a big way. New Zealand took advantage of some poor efforts from the Kings, and dragged themselves back into the game with a 22-13 third quarter to take the lead heading into the last.

Quarter number four saw more dominance from New Zealand, with the team’s stars lifting when it mattered most. With the game on the line, Sydney was careless with the ball and committed several crucial turnovers, which opened the door for the Breakers to slam the door shut in transition, silencing the Qudos Bank Arena crowd and advancing to the next stage, while also ending Sydney’s campaign.

Having been named to the All-NBL First Team in recent weeks, star guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright delivered a match-winning performance for the Breakers. He scored a career-high 34 points, shooting 50 per cent from the field and draining the dagger triple in the fourth quarter.

New Zealand will face Illawarra in another elimination matchup on Monday night to determine who will face Melbourne United in the semi final.

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