15/04/2024

The New Zealand Breakers claimed a long-awaited victory at home on Friday night. (Photo: NZ Breakers/Twitter)

Kiwi fans haven’t seen their Breakers heroes play on New Zealand shores for 489 days, but they finally had something to cheer about on Friday night.

Winning in a tight scoring grind, with the help of Jarrell Brantley and Izayah Le’Afa, the Breakers came up big in clutch moments to seal the victory.

Despite anything shortcomings in the match, the win meant the world to the whole squad, and in particular the New Zealanders who haven’t been able to play at home in a very long time.

“It was huge to be home, we feel that energy in the building,” centre Rob Loe said post-game.

“It really helps us through tough spots. Even going into the game I went to the playground with my son and someone said ‘good luck’ to me. That doesn’t happen in Australia, it happens here.”

While he is only new to the club, Mody Maor felt the spectacle of the occasion just as much as any of his players did.

“The best moment for me was after the game, when everybody got to be with their families,” he said.

“You saw everybody’s families come down, and you get to share the win with the people you love. All the work and effort, our boys didn’t have that… I’m grateful for it.

“I felt the group had the weight of two years on our shoulders.”

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Jarrell Brantley caused problems for the JackJumpers in the early stages of the first quarter, scoring the first four points of the game.

With Brantley and Le’Afa finding their shooting, the JackJumpers called a timeout halfway through. The Breakers defence was switched on, troubling the JackJumpers into tough shots offensively, shooting 1/6 from three-point range and 2/8 from the field.

They settled after the timeout after trailing by 10 halfway through the quarter, playing more solid defence as they scraped their way back into the game, going into the quarter time break trailing by seven.

The Breakers’ offensive game was firing in the first quarter, shooting 19/30 from the field, keeping the Jack Jumpers to 4/14 from the three-point line.

The second quarter was a grind for both teams. Whilst the Breakers shot from 19/30 for the first half, the JackJumpers wouldn’t go away, dominating the rebounding count 20-15, 11-3 on the offensive end.

Whilst the JackJumpers were more settled offensively, lifting their energy and going for rebounds, the Breakers were looking to have the pace of the game back on their terms.

Brantley continued to provide the offensive spark, having help from the likes of Barry Brown Jr and Le’Afa finding their range from the outside. Loe was big in the post, while Cam Gliddon did the little things, providing energy off the bench with his hustle.

The Breakers struggled to find scoring range in the third quarter, scoring just six points for the term. The physicality increased in the third quarter, and scoring from both teams slowed down.

Showing their desperation and sluggishness, with the JackJumpers having an answer every time the Breakers nailed shots from the three-point range, the home side contained a slim two-point lead at three quarter time.

The Breakers had a strong start to the last quarter, scoring the first five points. Whilst the JackJumpers continued to get stops defensively and dominated the rebounds once again, they couldn’t seem to hit the lead.

Whilst having opportunities to win the match, the Breakers found their ability to hit shots and get crucial stops. Le’Afa picked up a crucial rebound and hit two free throws to seal the Breakers first win of the season, 71-65.

Brantley finished the game as the player of the match, scoring 19 points to go six rebounds and two assists.Le’afa had a solid game, finishing with 16 points, four rebounds, while Brown Jr had 13 points and three rebounds.

For the opposition, Jack Mcveigh had a solid match, scoring 19 points, 6/9 from two-point range, six rebounds and finishing 7/14 from the field. Rashard Kelly had another solid game, having a double double, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, scoring 6/12 from the field and 5/8 from two-point range.

The New Zealand Breakers face a double header on the road next week, playing the South East Melbourne Phoenix October 15 and facing the Illawarra Hawks October 17 at WIN Entertainment Centre.

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