The two-time defending champion New Zealand Breakers extended its club-record winning streak to 12 with a relatively comfortable 92-84 win over the Wollongong Hawks at Auckland's North Shore Events Centre.
Then at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, the second-last Cairns Taipans further dented the Sydney Kings' playoff hopes with a 78-75 victory that now means that the Kings have lost seven straight matches.
While at the Perth Arena, the Perth Wildcats made sure that Townsville's recent good form that saw the Crocs storm back into the finals hunt counted for little with a dominant 80-52 win in front of another 10,000-plus crowd.
New Zealand continues to firm as the championship favourites to win a three-peat now moving to a 20-3 record on the season with just five matches remaining.
They were virtually untroubled by the undermanned Hawks at home on Friday with defensive maestro Mika Vukona the star with a season-high 24 points on a blistering 11-of-14 shooting from the field.
The grand final MVP of two seasons ago Tom Abercrombie added 17 points for the Breakers with Cedric Jackson scoring 11 and Alex Pledger 12 to go with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Wollongong fought hard, but continues to dearly miss the trio of Glen Saville, Rhys Martin and Lance Hurdle who are all gone for the rest of the season with knee injuries.
Despite their continued efforts, Wollongong has now slipped to a 9-13 record after starting the season so promisingly at 7-1.
Against the Breakers, point guard Adris Deleon tried everything he could to put the team on his shoulders with 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point territory.
Oscar Forman scored 21 points including 3-of-4 from three-point range with Malcolm Grant also scoring 10 points, but coach Gordie McLeod knows that try as they might, the players they are trying to cover for are just irreplaceable in a host of areas.
"We’re really struggling for cohesiveness with all that’s happened to this group," McLeod said.
"There were a number of times where it would have been pretty easy for teams to throw the towel in, but our guys worked extra hard and kept competing – that’s all you can ask."
The Kings were in a strong position sitting pretty in third at 9-6 only just over a month ago, but now seven straight defeats later and they are only barely clinging to fourth position at 10-13.
With two games against Perth, two against Townsville and one against Wollongong to come, it's going to take an almighty effort for Sydney to make the playoffs from here.
The Kings dominated the first half at home to the Taipans on Friday leading 47-37 at half-time, but Cairns fought back hard after half-time to outscore Sydney 41-28 to end up winning by three points.
Alex Loughton top-scored for the winners with 17 points with Jamar Wilson adding 16, Cameron Tragardh 13, Brad Hill 11 (and 14 rebounds) and Shane Edwards 10. Coach Aaron Fearne was delighted with the Taipans' second half efforts.
"We couldn’t defend tonight in the first half," Fearne said.
"We turned into an ugly grind in the second half and we really defended."
The Kings received even more bad news during the week when import point guard Corin Henry was ruled out for the rest of the season, but it didn’t show in the first half. However, coach Shane Heal felt the fadeout summed up Sydney's season in a nutshell.
"All week we spoke about the processes and for 16 minutes I left like we dominated that process," Heal said.
"We got 12 points up and then we went away from the processes and the things that work. We didn’t have the mental toughness to do it for 40 minutes and that’s been the story of our season."
Centre Ian Crosswhite had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings with Ben Madgen scoring 12 points, Tom Garlepp 11, James Harvey 11 and Aaroun Bruce 10.
Townsville then made the trip to Perth looking to win in the west for the first time since 2009.
The Crocs looked ready to make a contest of it in the first quarter and scores were tied 12-12, but from that point on the Wildcats went on a 23-1 run that simply blew Townsville away as the 'Cats cruise to a 28-point victory.
Fortunately for Townsville, it didn’t lose ground on Wollongong or Sydney with both those teams losing on Friday as well, but for Perth it kept them close enough to the Breakers if they drop another game in the lead up to the two top team's meeting in the last regular season game.
Jeremiah Trueman, Jesse Wagstaff and Matt Knight all top-scored for the Wildcats with 14 points and Knight also pulled in 13 rebounds.
Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge continues to hail his team's defensive efforts with the offence still a work in progress.
"This is the best defensive group I've ever coached in my life," Beveridge said.
"They've bought into it, they play hard and we forced 28 turnovers. The defence is just flat out choking teams and that's why we are winning."
Luke Nevill was the only Croc to score in double-figures with 11. Jacob Holmes had eight points and 10 rebounds, Peter Crawford eight points and Gary Ervin seven.
The Wildcats' defence was stifling, though, forcing the Crocs into 28 turnovers and out-rebounding Townsville 46-30.
Crocs coach Paul Woolpert simply felt that his team 'stunk' and he was lost for answers as to why having won eight of 10 games coming in.
"It was every quarter that we got outplayed. We stunk in every aspect of the game. Our mental preparation individually and collectively wasn’t what it needs to be to compete in a professional basketball game," Woolpert said.
"That's unacceptable. I know that we have been playing well and I thought that our preparation was good. I thought the guys were focused and in tuned, but we came out and didn’t come close to matching the physicality of the Wildcats.
"You cannot expect to compete in a game at this level and have 28 turnovers. We had 28 turnovers and only 19 field goals. We had nine more turnovers than we had field goals. That is completely unacceptable."