Skipper leads way as Breakers win again

A SUCCESSFUL double-header against Wollongong has put the New Zealand Breakers in prime position to take out the NBL minor premiership.

After downing the Hawks 98-91 in overtime at home on Thursday night, the Kiwi side pulled off another great escape in Wollongong yesterday, captain Mika Vukona (pictured) sealing the result with a pair of free throws inside the final minute.

The win was achieved in the absence of coach Dean Vickerman, who was confined to his hotel room after being struck down by illness, leaving assistant Paul Henare to guide the troops.

Vickerman would have been especially pleased with the way his team shared the workload, six players ending up in double figures.

Vukona led the way with 17 points, while former MVP Gary Ervin produced a game-high 25 for the Hawks.

The win gave the Breakers (16-5) a handy buffer from second-placed Cairns (14-6), the Taipans also securing a round 14 double. After a highly impressive 91-76 home court win against the Perth Wildcats (12-6) on Friday night, Cairns backed up with a 78-73 victory over Townsville in yesterday's "Reptile Rumble".

Kept quiet against the Wildcats, centre Matt Burston stepped up against the Crocs, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

The Adelaide 36ers (8-11) kept their finals hopes alive, coming from 12 points down at three-quarter time to beat fourth-placed Melbourne (10-9) 91-89 on Saturday.

Round 14 results (home teams first): Breakers 98 Hawks 91, Kings 89 Crocs 98, Taipans 91 Wildcats 76, Melbourne 89 Adelaide 36ers 91, Hawks 84 Breakers 86, Crocs 73 Taipans 78.

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