MOTR: Creek leads Phoenix past brave Breakers
IN what was a career night for their star forward has seen the South East Melbourne Phoenix sneak past the New Zealand Breakers, 95-88, in what was arguably the best match we have seen so far this season. Fans at John Cain Arena were treated to a classic, with both sides firing on all cylinders in what was a high scoring affair. The match was filled with highlights galore with both sides near their absolute best in what was a back-and-forth clash. The momentum switched hands all night with the Phoenix leading for much of the night, but unable to build a truly match-winning lead. In the end, it was their superstar in Mitchell Creek that got them over the line with an all-time performance from one of the NBL’s biggest stars enough to get the Phoenix home by seven points in the end.
The match opened in ridiculously high scoring fashion, particularly for the Phoenix, who came out in red hot form from the very first possession. The Breakers came out attacking through Yannick Wetzell, who appeared to have a point to prove in his first game against his old side. The Phoenix were able to match this through Creek and import guard Xavier Munford, who combined for 19 points in the opening term. The bench production of the team was able to keep this momentum going and by the time quarter time rolled around, the Phoenix led by 13 points with their 35 points in the term a club record. It was evident that the Phoenix were here to win and with a comfortable lead at the first break, they would have been confident in their ability to get this job done.
The second term saw things switch in favour of the other team, with the Breakers doing a terrific job of putting the game on a much more even playing field. They came out from quarter time with no plans to roll over as their offense finally got rolling. There were a number of highlights, but none were more memorable than a massive dunk from New Zealand’s William McDowell-White. The guard showed no hesitation attacking the rim and with pure strength and technique, was able to throw down a massive posterizer on the South East Melbourne defender. This appeared to light a spark in his team’s momentum, with the Breakers outscoring their opponents by 10 points for the term and suddenly with the margin at just three points at the main break, it was game on.
This back-and-forth play continued into the second half, with the sides unable to separate themselves for the term. South East Melbourne big man and former Houston Rocket Zhou Qi really beginning to assert his dominance on the contest. The two sides traded buckets for the term in hugely entertaining fashion, with both teams pouring in 22 points for the term, and despite their best efforts in a strong period for the Breakers, they still trailed by three points heading into the final term.
The last quarter delivered even more thrilling action for the fans at John Cain Arena, as the sides traded buckets in a tense final term. The Breakers looked to close the gap even further, but could not take the next step to take the lead from their opponents. From this, the Phoenix were finally able to make a match-winning run, making big shots in a period that belonged to Creek and no one else, although New Zealand’s Hugo Besson made things interesting with some big shots down the stretch. However, South East Melbourne did enough to get the job done to claim yet another victory in front of their home crowd.
For the Phoenix, Creek finished with a career-high 36 points in what was one of the most commanding performances we have seen thus far this season. The forward was absolutely clinical from behind the three-point line, making six of his seven attempts from behind the arc in what was one of the most impressive shooting displays in recent memories. Whenever his side needed a big basket in crunch time, Creek delivered in a mature and superstar-calibre performance. He was well-assisted by teammates Munford (17 points) and Kyle Adnam (16 points). One of the biggest things the Breakers can take out of this is the performance of Besson, who exploded to pour in 26 points in what was clearly a breakout performance.