Cedric Jackson brought up an historic triple-double to deliver the New Zealand Breakers a 94-64 victory over Melbourne Tigers at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday.
Taking over the game early in a marquee match-up with former NBA lottery pick Jonny Flynn, Jackson led all scorers with 28 points, but also delivered 10 assists and 10 rebounds to totally out-play his rival.
"I just watched everyone else's energy and fed off that," said Jackson.
"Our whole team were aggressive and it excited me to try and match their intensity - it's fun when you're all on the same page."
Flynn had 15 points for Melbourne, but sat the entire final quarter after earning a technical foul in the third.
The defending champions broke the game open with a 27-6 run bridging quarter-time and never looked like relinquishing their advantage as their lead reached 35 in the dying stages.
Melbourne made the first run of the game, but were quickly closed down as Jackson put on a show, providing plenty of highlight-reel material.
During the run, he drove and dished to Alex Pledger for the dunk, stole the inbounds pass for an easy lay-in and then somehow converted a twisting, spinning banker.
Later he stole the ball for an impressive two-hand jam. At the other end Lewis responded with two breathtaking dunks of his own, but New Zealand's lead was in double-figures despite not connecting from beyond the arc.
Daryl Corletto, Tom Abercrombie and Jackson remedied that situation midway through the second quarter, and suddenly the lead was over 20.
Leading 54-37 at half-time, the titleholders shooting 58 per cent from the floor and swatting anything that came near the basket on defence.
Flynn clearly was not enjoying himself and finally snapped soon after the restart, earning his technical foul after a comment to the officials. Forward Seth Scott was also called for two quick personals – his third and fourth – and suddenly Melbourne’s imports were both on the bench.
"Full credit to New Zealand," Melbourne coach Chris Anstey said afterwards.
"Obviously, they took us out of what we wanted to do midway through the first quarter and from then on, it was just embarrassing.
"Good teams don't lose by 30 - they lose by six-eight points and they go down fighting. We're not going down like that again, something's got to change."
A 17-3 burst put the contest beyond the Tigers’ reach and the only interest left was whether Jackson could realise his statistical target.
Coach Andrej Lemanis subbed him off one assist short with 3min 54sec remaining but subbed him straight back on to go get it.
Jackson brought up his triple-double when he found rookie Rueben Te Rangi cutting down the lane for an athletic lay-up.
"I wasn't going to play him at all in the fourth quarter, but when we saw how close he was, I told him he had until four minutes to do what he needed to do," said Lemanis.
"He went about it the right way - he didn't make it a one-on-one battle, but he got his whole team involved."
New Zealand Breakers 94 (Jackson 28, Abercrombie 11, C Webster 10)
Melbourne Tigers 64 (Flynn 15, Lewis 10)
Crowd: 4000 at North Shore Events Centre, Auckland