21 Feb 2016

Breakers sweep United to book finals spot

6:44 am on 21 February 2016

The New Zealand Breakers have clinched a place in the Australian basketball league grand final with a 91-78 triumph over Melbourne United in Auckland.

The win gave the defending champion Breakers a 2-0 clean sweep of the minor premiers in the semi-finals.

They'll play the winners of the Perth-Illawarra semi series - the Wildcats lead 1-0 and play at the Hawks on Sunday night.

Cedric Jackson celebrates the Breakers' win over Melbourne United, Vector Arena, Auckland, 20 February 2016. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

Cedric Jackson celebrates the Breakers' win Photo: Photosport

Melbourne led 46-41 at half-time at Vector Arena, with guard Chris Goulding leading all scorers at the break with 17 points.

But the visitors fell away as the home side smashed Melbourne on the boards to inflict a fourth straight defeat on United, after both teams played each other twice at the end of the regular season before also squaring off in the semis.

Held to just 11 points in a low-scoring third quarter, Melbourne came out in the fourth just a point behind but that was as close as they got as their hosts went on a 12-point scoring run to canter home.

Goulding would end up equal top scorer for the game alongside Tom Abercrombie with 23 points, while Abercrombie's team-mate Cedric Jackson scored 19 - including four from seven from three-point range - with forward Tai Wesley grabbing 16 points off the bench.

Wesley said the physical nature of the game suited his side.

"It was definitely a more physical game, but that's our game," Wesley said.

"The way the refs called the game was great, it let it be a physical game and that plays into our hands more than theirs."

Breakers forward Charles Jackson throws down a dunk on Melbourne United, Vector Arena, Auckland, 20 February 2016. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

Breakers forward Charles Jackson throws down a dunk on Melbourne United Photo: Photosport

The win continues the Breakers' late season revival, from six losses in a row to a seventh straight win and a ninth finals series victory on the trot as well.

A devastated Goulding conceded they couldn't match the Breakers on the night.

"New Zealand hit their straps at the right time and they're playing very good basketball," Goulding said.

Wesley said the Breakers were determined to see off exiting coach Dean Vickerman with another championship ring.

"He's our coach, he's our leader and we definitely want to send him out in the right way," Wesley said.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.