Head Coach Mike Kelly of the Taipans during NBL Round 5 match between New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, October 31, 2019. (AAP Image/David Rowland)
Head Coach Mike Kelly of the Taipans during NBL Round 5 match between New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, October 31, 2019. (AAP Image/David Rowland)

Gutsy Breakers dig deep against Cairns

BASKETBALL has always been a sport of runs and momentum. Rarely do teams dominate for all four quarters - there are always twists and turns.

But, Thursday night's NBL round five clash in New Zealand was something else.

For the first two quarters, the Breakers held all the ascendancy, and the Snakes were lucky to be trailing by only 11 at the long break.

But when they came back from the interval, it was the visiting Cairns who could do absolutely no wrong.

A 17-4 run to begin the third term quickly erased much of the poor first half as the Snakes stole back the lead.

It was just like the game flipped.

The Breakers lost all direction on offence, and Cairns were getting whatever they liked at the other end.

And, just as it looked like the Taipans were going to power away in the third term, the game sharply changed direction again - back the way of the hosts in front of their vocal crowd.

A trio of timely three-point bombs from NBL Next Stars prospect RJ Hampton helped take the game away from the plucky Taipans in the last term.

A dejected looking Head Coach Mike Kelly of the Taipans during NBL Round 5 match between New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, October 31, 2019. (AAP Image/David Rowland)
A dejected looking Head Coach Mike Kelly of the Taipans during NBL Round 5 match between New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, October 31, 2019. (AAP Image/David Rowland)

Cairns were in the game with less than a minute to play but throughout the entire last term, the Breakers were on their way to victory.

The hosts held on to win 93-85.

Earlier in the night, the Breakers were on top for the first 12 minutes of the game before rookie Kouat Noi provided Cairns a much-needed spark.

The small forward attacked the rim on a handful of occasions midway through the second stanza to force the Kiwis to call a time-out.

He had 13 second-quarter points to keep his club within touch.

Cameron Oliver of the Taipans can't believe a call by the umpire during NBL Round 5 match between New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, October 31, 2019. (AAP Image/David Rowland)
Cameron Oliver of the Taipans can't believe a call by the umpire during NBL Round 5 match between New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, October 31, 2019. (AAP Image/David Rowland)

Noi fouled out halfway through the final term with 16 points and six rebounds, in one of his more encouraging displays of the season.

Import big man Cameron Oliver's offensive explosion continued, hitting six of his first seven shots to go along with regular trips to the free-throw line.

The 2-5 Snakes do not play again now for another week, hosting the bottom-of-the-ladder Illawarra next Saturday evening.

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