Travis Trice dishes to a teammate.
Travis Trice dishes to a teammate.

Breakers repel Bullets’ late charge

UPDATE: FRUSTRATED Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis says defensive lapses cost his team victory for the second time in five days after New Zealand surged to a 101-96 win at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Thursday night.

The Bullets led by nine points midway through the third quarter but the top-of-the-table Breakers (4-1) powered home to hand Brisbane their third loss from four matches to start the 2017-18 NBL season and leave Lemanis lamenting defensive breakdowns late in quarters.

Brisbane led by 15 points at quarter-time against Illawarra last Sunday but surrendered too many points down the stretch.

"At the end of the day, we need to knuckle down and play some D,'' Lemanis said.

"Until we find an answer for our defence, it's always going to be tough…we gave up 101 points tonight.

"We've got to be able to maintain an intensity level and a commitment at the defensive end over the course of quarters. We can't wear out.

"Our offence is fine. We need to do something about getting our defence to stop leaking points.''

Lemanis said the Bullets could take heart from the fact that Adelaide and Illawarra both overcame sluggish starts to make the play-offs last season and that they can score enough points to win games.

"You can obviously tell from the tone, the frustration in dropping the last two games because we were in winnable positions in both of them,'' he said.

"It's not like we need the stars and planets to align to suddenly have a chance of winning a game. We've got enough talent, we've got a team that's capable of being good in this league.

"We need to ensure that we don't let this destroy us.

"We are obviously a very talented offensive team. If we can just find a way of getting a little bit more grunt defensively at those key moments, we'll be OK.''

Breakers guard Shea Illi exploded for 23 points off the bench while import Edgar Sosa had 19 points and five assists for the Breakers.

For Brisbane, imports Travis Trice (15 points, five assists, three rebounds) and Perrin Buford (18 points, seven rebounds) were the standouts while Daniel Kickert had 15 points for the home side.

Perrin Burford gets a shot away.
Perrin Burford gets a shot away.


Breakers coach Paul Henare said the perennial powerhouse may be under-rated this season but they will keep chalking up wins based on good chemistry.

"The way we were able to just hang around and just keep the scoreboard ticking over...fortunately we had enough left in the tank to finish strongly in the fourth,'' he said.

"We hear what people are saying and we get reminded (about being written off) but we've been focused on our own little world.

"We're not oblivious ... but it's not a motivation for us. We just feel like we've got a good team and good group of guys and we've started to come together as a unit and I think the guys are really comfortable within their roles.''

He said Illi was building on his international exposure.

"Shae has just grown and grown coming off the back of a good campaign with the Tall Blacks. he's brought that confidence into this group,'' Henare said.

"It was a good game but it was a good game when we needed him to have one and be aggressive.''

Both sides were frustrated by the refereeing with 46 fouls called in 40 minutes with 62 free throws. The referees called it tight all night but some fouls were seriously soft while some obvious calls were missed to add to the already high tension after two melees last weekend.

The Bullets face a quick turnaround with a home game against Melbourne United on the Gold Coast tomorrow (SAT).

Brisbane failed to have the 'engaging in a melee' charges laid against Tom Jervis and Adam Gibson after last Sunday's scuffle against Illawarra dismissed and both players will have to pay $500 fines.

Mitchell Young is well guarded.
Mitchell Young is well guarded.

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