The New Zealand Breakers have claimed a third consecutive NBL Championship, producing a gutsy road performance to win Game Two of the 2012/13 iiNet National Basketball League Grand Final Series tonight at Perth Arena.
Coming off a strong Game One performance, the Breakers proved why they are the best road team in the competition, wrapping up the game and series 2-0 with a 70-66 win over the Perth Wildcats.
In a game worthy of deciding any NBL Championship, it was a tight opening half with the Wildcats feeding off the capacity 12,500 crowd crammed into Perth Arena.
In a performance indicative of their ability to grind out a result, the Breakers silenced the fanatical home support with a 25-14 third quarter that saw the lead stretch beyond double figures.
With their season on the line, Perth mounted an almighty comeback, getting within one point with less than 30 seconds remaining on the back of two clutch free throws from Greg Hire.
As the Perth crowd pushed the Wildcats towards a remarkable come-from-behind victory it was none other than CJ Bruton who would have the final say.
The man who led the Breakers to the 2012 NBL title was again on hand to close out the season, draining two late free throws to ice the win.
Capping off a remarkable 2012/13 NBL season, New Zealand’s star import Cedric Jackson was named NBL Grand Final MVP.
The Breakers historic three-peat puts them in the conversation of all-time best NBL teams, becoming just the second team to achieve the feat – joining the Sydney Kings of 2003 to 2005.
Coach Andrej Lemanis also joins elite company, with the legendary Brian Goorjian as the only coach to oversee three consecutive NBL titles.
After tipping off the season with a loss to the Wildcats at home, the Breakers were quickly back to their dominant best, 24 of their next 27 games – including a 16-game winning streak to secure a third-straight minor premiership.
Consecutive series sweeps of Sydney and Perth, including two massive road wins, ensured Auckland would again be the home of the NBL Championship trophy.
Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally congratulated the Breakers on another outstanding season.
“What we have witnessed from the New Zealand Breakers – not only this season, but over the past three seasons – has been nothing short of remarkable,” Ms Keneally said.
“To win an NBL Championship takes an amazing amount of effort, dedication and desire – to win three consecutive NBL Championships is testament to the hunger for success of all involved at the New Zealand Breakers.
“Congratulations to Andrej Lemanis, his coaching staff and players, owner Paul Blackwell and the Breakers organisation on another brilliant season.”