30 Apr 2011

Breakers' win makes sporting history

12:46 pm on 30 April 2011

The New Zealand Breakers have made trans-Tasman sporting history as they crushed Cairns Taipans 71-53 in Auckland to claim Australia's National Basketball League title on Friday night.

The win makes the Breakers the first New Zealand sporting team to win a major Australian championship.

Roared on by a capacity crowd at the North Shore Events Centre, the Breakers scored the first six points.

They were ahead throughout the the final game of the three-match grand final series.

A 16-4 run in the third quarter took the hosts' lead to 15, and a pair of three-pointers from CJ Bruton with five minutes to go in the fourth stretched it to 21.

Both teams shot below 40% from the field, but the Taipans made just two out of 25 three-point attempts and were out-rebounded 43-36.

CJ Bruton top scored for New Zealand with 14 followed by import American forward Gary Wilkinson, with 13, and guard Kirk Penney with 11.

Basketball New Zealand chief executive Tim Hamilton says young people will be inspired by the success of the Breakers, whose victory will help the sport grow in New Zealand.

He hopes the intense media interest in the Breakers will transfer to New Zealand's National Basketball League, which features some of the Breakers players.

The victory ensures a memorable end to captain Paul Henare's 250-game career with the Breakers.

Fans ecstatic

The match took place in front of a sold-out crowd of 4400 at the North Shore Events Centre.

Breakers fan Tim Arlott, says the Breakers "came out smoking" at the start of the match and many in the crowd sensed there was "something pretty cool about to happen."

Hans de Leeuw, who's been following the team for eight years, says the noise from the crowed was deafening in the final minutes of the game.

He says the win leaves supporters feeling confident about next season.

Maurine Moore who was watching in Christchurch said she thought at half time the team was going to win, and by the final quarter she was certain, so it was nice to enjoy the end of the game "without it being a nail-biter".