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September 23, 2006 at 10:04 pm #13652
The Mighty Harvey Norman New Zealand Breakers won their first-ever game at the Singapore Indoor Stadium by thrashing the Singapore Slingers 116-99 on Sunday to continue their recent good run of form, having now won their last three games in a row.
As expected, former NBA draft pick Kirk Penney and big centre Rick Rickert did most of the damage, finishing with 24 and 23 points respectively.
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis was obviously elated with the result, which also happened to be his team’s first away victory in this season’s Hummer Championship NBL 2007/08.
The result moved the New Zealand-based side up one spot to sixth in the ladder, with a 3-2 record.
“I am totally happy with the result,” said Lemanis.
“In the first quarter, our defence allowed too many baskets and so we had to try and open up our defence and this in turn helped our offence and flow.”
“We had good execution with open shots and easy baskets, and that was the key today.”
The Slingers missed their first four attempts to allow New Zealand to run up an early 7-0 lead.
Rod Grizzard finally got the home side off the mark with an athletic reverse lay-up under the basket.
That proved just the spark that Gordon McLeod’s boys needed, as they proceeded to tie the game at 7-7 before a Ben Knight steal and lay-up with 5:30 remaining in the opening period put Singapore into a 15-13 lead.
Grizzard, who was to end the quarter with13 points, then stripped Tony Ronaldson to set up a three-on-one break before finishing off the move with a trademark two-handed dunk to put the Slingers up 19-13 and forcing Lemanis to call a time-out.
The Slingers closed out the quarter leading 28-20.
Whatever Lemanis said to his players during the short interval worked a treat as the Breakers came out firing on all cylinders at the start of second quarter, going on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 28-28.
The Slingers managed to keep the scores tight for the next six minutes or so before surrendering the lead to Ronaldson’s sweet jump shot with 3:31 remaining in the second period.
With Grizzard suddenly going cold, the momentum was with the New Zealand side, the visitors going on a 10-2 run to lead 58-49 at halftime.
Try as they did for the rest of the game, the Slingers could not close the widening gap, which at one point in the fourth quarter stood at 22 points.
Grizzard rediscovered his range in a belated attempt to lead his team in a comeback, but with Mike Helms held to just 15 points, the Slingers’ valiant efforts petered out as they had to settle for a 17-point defeat, going down 99-116.
Said Slingers skipper Ben Knight: “The Mighty Harvey Norman New Zealand Breakers were on fire tonight, their passes were really sharp and their three-points largely on target.
“Even though we beat them twice last season they’ve only lost one game this year, and they got the better of us tonight.”
“We’ve got to pick it up defensively; our performance tonight was just not good enough.”
“Amongst other things we have to work on getting fitter during the season and take a good hard look at ourselves and see where we can improve.”
Slingers head coach Gordon McLeod could not hide his disappointment after the game but remained stoically positive despite the loss.
“The goal was to try and shoot the teams down to the low 90s in order to stand a chance for a win,” he said.
“We did a good job in the first quarter with a good defence, but switched off in the second quarter and The mighty Harvey Norman New Zealand Breakers were just to mighty for us.”
The Slingers face the Sydney K
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