The Sydney Kings have piled more woes as the struggling New Zealand Breakers advance to a 96-78 win in the NBL Cup.
The Breakers entered Thursday’s game at John Cain Arena with one win from their opening six games, but hopes of a morale-boosting win vanished following a devastating second-quarter crash.
A promising start saw New Zealand take a 13-point lead but the Kings edged them 26-6 in the second quarter to complete a 23-point turnaround and take a 10-point lead at half-time.
With young guns Jordan Hunter and Dejan Vasiljevic leading the way, the Kings maintained their lead in the second half to celebrate guard Shaun Bruce’s 200th NBL play in fine style.
Hunter made his ninth attempted shot for a career-high 24 points while Vasiljevic (20 points, 10 rebounds) recorded his first NBL double-double.
“Against Perth, we gave up 113 points which is something we didn’t want to do,” said coach Adam Forde after the Kings grabbed their second NBL Cup win and raised their overall streak to 5-5.
“For the most part of the defense, even when other aspects of our game plan are not as clean as we’d like, we can always come back and get a few stops.”
With Lamar Patterson out for four to six weeks with a knee injury, Corey Webster took over the Breakers offense to lead the team with 24 points while brother Tai added 18.
But the nature of their surrender resulted in coach Dan Shamir choosing to avoid commenting on the promising start of the match in his post-match press conference.
“It’s a bit embarrassing for me to talk about the first quarter because it was another game where we weren’t competitive,” said Shamir after New Zealand slipped to a fourth successive loss.
“It really shows that we have some good basketball in us. But it gets harder every day like that but it just means that everyone needs to improve and keep fighting.”
New Zealand opened the game at 12-2 and Corey Webster closed the first quarter with 13 points to give the Breakers a 30-20 lead.
But the momentum shifted as the Sydney defense snatched up during the second period, setting up a 10-0 start, and the Kings pulled out thanks to Hunter’s efficient score under the basket and Vasiljevic’s rebounds and long-range shot.
New Zealand found more chances in the second half but the Kings still managed to extend their lead to 68-55 after three quarters and Casper Ware added 10 points in the final season to finish with 19 points for the game.