Basketball: New Zealand Breakers suffer 24-point loss in Australian NBL season opener against South East Melbourne Phoenix

Basketball: New Zealand Breakers suffer 24-point loss in Australian NBL season opener against South East Melbourne Phoenix

Things can only get better for the New Zealand Breakers.

After their highly disrupted build-up to their season opener against the South East Melbourne Phoenix, their troubles extended onto the court in Melbourne on Saturday night.

The Breakers fell to an 89-65 loss to open their campaign, with the result as good as locked up by halftime.

Simply put, the Breakers could not get a thing to drop early in the contest. Shooting just 23 per cent from the floor and seven per cent – yes, seven – from three-point range, the Breakers were only able to put up 23 points through the opening 20 minutes – tied for the worst first-half total in franchise history.

It wasn’t a case of not getting open looks, but a case of those not falling. Finn Delany, William McDowell-White, and import guard Peyton Silva all struggled mightily in the opening half of the season.

It was the opposite for South East Melbourne. Led by import guard Xavier Mumford, the Phoenix took advantage of slow defensive rotations and bad reads from the Breakers to get great looks and score on more than 50 per cent of their field goal attempts, including 36 per cent from deep to take a 44-23 lead into halftime.

Lacking size in the paint, the Breakers were short-handed in that area without Yanni Wetzell available, and the Phoenix took advantage through their bevy of big men. Former NBA player Zhou Qi caused some issues for the Breakers at both ends, as they struggled to box out the 216cm centre and struggled to attack the rim when he was parked beneath it, while Dane Pineau was met with little resistance when collecting offensive rebounds.

The half wasn’t without its bright spots for the Breakers. Young import Hugo Besson provided some much-needed punch to the offence, while fellow import Jeremiah Martin showed plenty of hustle.

That carried over into the third quarter as the Breakers showed signs of life. With Besson flashing his range and the likes of Delany and Siva finally getting shots to drop, the Breakers opened the quarter with a 7-0 run.

While they got the better of the Phoenix in the quarter – outscoring the hosts 23-22 – and were able to hang with the Phoenix in the fourth, the damage had well and truly been done early.

After a horror show of a first half, the Breakers could take some positives from the back end of the game. After failing to score in the first half, Delany finished the game with 18 points, while Siva, Besson and Kyrin Galloway all scored in double figures.

NZ Breakers 65 (Finn Delany 18 points, Peyton Siva 11, Hugo Besson 10)
South East Melbourne Phoenix 89 (Xavier Mumford 27 points, Mitch Creek 19)

1Q: 11-17. HT: 23-44. 3Q: 46-66.

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