Inspired Breakers on brink after holding nerve against Kings

Barry Brown Jr goes up for his stunning breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter for the Breakers at Spark Arena.

The Breakers have taken the NBL finals series to a do or die game five in Sydney with a 80-70 victory over the Kings tonight.

In front of a record crowd of more than 9000 at Spark Arena, New Zealand showed no ill effects of what had the potential to be a demoralising 91-68 defeat at Qudos Arena on Friday.

Another defeat would have ended their season. Instead, they have a chance to win it all on the road on Wednesday night.

After winning game one on the road, the Breakers lost the next two home and away but they played with such an irresistible momentum tonight – particularly in the fourth quarter – that confidence will be high that they can claim their first championship since 2015.

Their defence was the main contributor to their success – that and their fast and inspired start.

Leading 18-12 after the first quarter, the Kings were kept to their lowest first quarter score this season as the Breakers, roared on by an enthusiastic support, scrapped for everything.

Jarrell Brantley led all scorers with 23, with Barry Brown Jr contributing 20 – he had a hot hand in the fourth quarter and his breakaway dunk to extend the Breakers’ lead to 71-60 sent the crowd into a frenzy.

After a quiet game three, Will McDowell-White chipped in with 19 points. The highest scoring Kings player was Darren Walton Jr with 18.

The Breakers weren’t red hot from the field – shooting at just over 44 per cent overall, but they were simply better than the Kings because they made life so difficult for the visiting offence. Their 10 turnovers in the first half was a testament of the pressure the Breakers were putting on.

The Breakers celebrate their victory over the Sydney Kings to take the finals series into game five.

The home side had a 39-27 halftime lead, with league MVP Xavier Cooks in foul trouble early and clearly angry at some of the fouls he was attracting. He was irritated by a foul by Tom Abercrombie, a real nuisance all night with a game-high six steals, and then called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Dererk Pardon.

A shoulder barge by Cooks, recently signed by the Washington Wizards, on Brantley gave the Aussie his third personal and a seat on the bench.

However, the Breakers' now traditional third-quarter wobbles struck again, the home side outscored 25-15 for the period and their lead cut to 54-52 ahead of the final stanza.

That’s when the Breakers’ offence finally heated up.

An Abercrombie steal roused the crowd further, with a Brown Jr three-pointer with the shot clock about to expire extending the Breakers’ lead to 74-62 with time running out for the Kings. The 26-18 final quarter was the Breakers' best of the game.

It was a stunning comeback for the Breakers, with club owner Matt Walsh clearly emotional afterwards.

At 2-2 in the finals series, the scene is set for the Breakers to seal the deal: from last place last season during their miserable Covid-affected life on the road, to first place in 2023.


More Stories