The New Zealand Breakers had a stunning turnaround in the second half and took advantage of the weary Perth Wildcats to record an 83-78 NBL win at the RAC Arena.
The Breakers were in the main hole 13 points down midway through the third quarter before an overwhelming offensive attack overwhelmed the two-time reigning champions, who are playing their fifth game in 11 days.
It was sweet revenge for the Breakers who lost their overtime game against the Wildcats last week in Launceston.
Levi Randolph (23 points) was the hero off the bench for the visitors, highlighted by a spectacular blast at the end of the third stanza to turn things around.
Colton Iverson (11 points, 17 rebounds) dominated the game amid a fierce battle with John Mooney, who is the Wildcats’ seed with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Bryce Cotton, the hot favorite to win a second consecutive MVP award, struggled with 12 points on 4-of-17 shots from the field.
It was a costly defeat for the Wildcats (17-6) who slipped a game behind league leaders Melbourne United, while the Breakers (7-16) remained bottom second after round 14.
“Sometimes it starts rolling. We played well and defended great,” said Breakers coach Dan Shamir.
“This is a big win for us and we are very happy.”
Emerging from a cool shooting game early on against Illawarra, Cotton drained his first field goal but Perth couldn’t ignore a determined Breakers led by Iverson, who had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter.
The Wildcats looked exhausted during a dismal second stanza, but Mooney made up for the shortfall by 14 points in the first half to push the Wildcats 42-39 ahead on the long break.
The home side made their move after halftime with an eight-point streak and threatened to open up the game before the Breakers’ incredible 22-4 run put them ahead 65-60 at the final break.
The Breakers parried a Wildcats rally marked by a brilliant heist and layup from captain Tom Abercrombie with 16 seconds remaining to smash the 250-game milestone from Mitch Norton and coach Trevor Gleeson.
The Wildcats’ stand-three home game ends on Friday night against the Brisbane Bullets, while the Breakers host Cairns in the previous fixture.