New Zealand Breakers end Sydney Kings’ three-peat dream

Sydney’s DJ Hogg drives to the basket in the NBL play-In qualifier against New Zealand Breakers on Wednesday night.

Sydney’s DJ Hogg drives to the basket in the NBL play-In qualifier against New Zealand Breakers on Wednesday night. Photo: Getty

New Zealand Breakers have crushed Sydney Kings’ NBL “three-peat” dream with an 83-76 upset win that ends the reigning champions’ hot-and-cold season in the first week of finals.

Star import Parker Jackson-Cartwright had a season-high 34 points in Sydney on Wednesday as the injury-hit Breakers came back from as many as 13 points down to book a play-in date with Illawarra.

The winner of that game on Monday will meet Melbourne United for a playoff series.

The Kings, meanwhile, will be left to do some serious soul searching after imploding following a 7-3 start to the season.

Despite boasting one of the most offensively talented rosters in the league, Sydney won only six of its final 19 games under new coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah.

Neither side could find its stride to begin the game, finding it difficult to break down the other’s zone defence.

The Breakers looked good on transition during a 13-3 run to begin the third quarter, during which they took the lead for the first time.

It was a floater from Will McDowell-White (11 points, five assists), on return from a shoulder injury, that put the Breakers in front.

When both teams were struggling to find routes to the basket early on, Jackson-Cartwright (34 points, six assists, five rebounds) was the only Breaker capable of regularly scoring.

After his side had struggled from deep, he hit two triples in quick succession just before the half to keep the Kings’ lead to single digits at the main change.

Isayah Le’Afa did the same in the final quarter to push the Breakers six points ahead.

The Kings kept coming but when Jackson-Cartwright hit a triple with 40 seconds to play, the lead was seven points and the Breakers were all but home.

Breakers import Zylan Cheatham appeared to injure his leg in a collision with Jaylen Adams (18 points, seven turnovers) just before half-time.

He returned in the second half but appeared impaired in his movement.

Angus Glover, a starter for the Kings only a month ago, was overlooked for any game time.


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