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Crocs, Breakers claim OT NBL thrillers

By Chris Pike
10 February 2013 01:45AM EST

TOWNSVILLE and New Zealand prevailed in overtime thrillers in the NBL on Saturday night against Cairns and Sydney respectively.

The league-leading Breakers extending their club record winning run to 11 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Saturday night, but it came the hard way in overtime.

New Zealand did prevail in the end, though, thanks largely to MVP-favourite Cedric Jackson to record the 96-94 win that improves the Breakers to a 19-3 record on the season to remain well clear of the second-placed Perth Wildcats.

Sydney, on the other hand, slipped down to fourth spot with the loss and has now lost six straight matches to be in serious jeopardy of losing a spot in the finals at 10-12.

The team most likely to replace Sydney is Townsville and the Crocs prevailed in a classic Reptile Rumble at The Swamp on Saturday night needing double overtime to end up beating Cairns 111-108.

The action started in Sydney, though, and the Kings took the fight right up to the two-time defending champion Breakers. New Zealand did look to have the win secure leading 82-79 with 15 seconds left in regulation when Kings point guard Corin Henry went to the line for two free-throws.

He made the first and intentionally missed the second with import big man Darnell Lazare gathering up the offensive rebound and putting it back in the hole for the two points to tie scores at 82 where they stayed to force overtime.

However, replays revealed that Henry's missed shot did not touch the rim and should have been New Zealand's ball. The referees let it stand, though, and the Breakers prevailed at the end of overtime but only just.

Kings veteran James Harvey hit a massive three from way out with six seconds remaining to tie scores up at 94, but on the next possession Jackson proved his value cruising to the hoop for a lay-up to win the game for New Zealand.

Jackson was the star of the show again for the Breakers finishing with 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Alex Pledger also had 18 points and five boards, Daryl Corletto 12 points, Tom Abercrombie 10 and Corey Webster 10.

Mika Vukona was a massive reason why the Breakers stayed in the game and finished with 11 points and nine boards. He was a happy and relieved man after the game.

"Andrej (Lemanis) really picked up on at half-time about how we weren’t on in the first half. He told us that we had to pick up our energy and we were lucky enough to come out with this overtime win," Vukona said.

"We won this game, but we made a lot of mistakes out there and we still have a lot of things to work on. We have a stretch at home now and we still want to cement this first spot because Perth is right on our tails and we don’t want them to get any closer."

The Kings fought bravely with Lazare finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Henry also had 22 points, Ben Madgen 17 and Harvey 16.

Then in Townsville, Cairns was on top for most of the contest against the Crocs but couldn’t quite shut the gate to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Cairns led 44-36 at half-time and still by six at three quarter-time, but Townsville refused to go away.

A Jamar Wilson drive and basket for Cairns saw the game forced into overtime and the Taipans immediately took control racing to an 88-83 lead after the first two scores of extra time.

Cairns still led 95-93 with 17 seconds remaining when Crocs point guard Gary Ervin was fouled by Shane Edwards shooting a three. He made two of his three foul shots to tie scores up where they stayed as time expired once more.

The Crocodiles then looked in control leading 109-104 with 19 seconds to go, but Cam Tragardh scored a quick two points for the Taipans before Michael Cedar hit two critical free-throws for Townsville to seal the win.

Townsville has now won eight of its last 10 games to be knocking on the door of fourth place.

Ervin finished the double overtime thriller with 28 points, six assists and four rebounds for the Crocs with Luke Nevill adding 17 points and eight boards, Cedar 15 points and Todd Blanchfield 15 to go with eight boards.

Veteran Peter Crawford was the star, though, with 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and he was thrilled with the win afterwards.

"That's a big win for us. The season is on the line with pretty much every game we play now. We went to overtime with them here earlier in the season and got smacked by 15, so I think we are getting better," Crawford said.

"Double overtime makes it a classic game for a Reptile Rumble. They are all tough games from here. We are going to Perth on Friday and we have to keep winning. We don’t have much room, but we believe in ourselves and that goes a long way to reassure everyone on the team that we can get it done."

Wilson top-scored for Cairns with 23 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds. Edwards had 17 points and seven boards, including two massive dunks, Cameron Gliddon 16 points and nine rebounds, Brad Hill 12, Aaron Grabau 11, Clint Steindl 11 and Alex Loughton 10 and 12 boards.

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