The New Zealand Breakers mounted a second half comeback to record a 96-84 win over the Sydney Kings in their NBL basketball clash in Auckland, but the game was most memorable for a Breakers nation favourite.
Long-time Breaker Mika Vukona top-scored for the hosts with 18 points taking him over the 2500-point milestone as the New Zealanders had to fight hard to beat the bottom-placed Kings.
Sydney were outstanding in the first half and led by eight points at the break.
However, the Breakers put together a strong second half outscoring the Kings 59-39 to remain unbeaten at home this season.
Vukona led the way for New Zealand with a double-double 18 points and 11 rebounds with Cedric Jackson particularly effective in the second half finishing with 17 points, 11 assists and five boards.
Charles Jackson had 14 points and nine rebounds as well with Tom Abercrombie contributing 11 points and eight boards, and the Tai Wesley 11 points and five rebounds.
Corey Webster shot just 4-of-19 on his way to 10 points with Sydney's Marcus Thornton doing a terrific defensive job.
"I think the crowd gave them a huge lift, they did what championship teams do. They turn the pressure up, they were more aggressive on the boards and all credit to them," the Kings coach Joe Connelly said.
The Breakers coach Dean Vickerman concedes the team needed to re-focus after a tough opening half.
"We were pretty sluggish in the first half, that's the way they wanted the game," Vickerman said.
"It just took us awhile to find our flow offensively. What we tried to do in the second half was generate more pace and play a little faster, that didn't allow them enough time to set their defence."
The third placed Breakers next play the Illawarra Hawks on December 20th.
- NBL / RNZ