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NBL: Ili breaks the Bullets
Shea Ili and the New Zealand Breakers came into a stormy Brisbane and thundered past the Bullets in a 101-96 win.
In a back-and-forth battle which saw 48 lead changes and no lead greater than nine it was the ever improving Ili who kept his team in the game through the first three-quarters allowing his teammates to close out the big road win in the fourth.
Shea scored six points in the first quarter as his team took a 24 - 23 at the initial break. He would do the bulk of his damage in the second quarter scoring 9 points on a long jumper, a three-pointer, a pair of free throws and this buzzer beating lay up as the Breakers went into the main break down one.
Ili finished his night with a career high 23 points hitting 7 of 11 field goal attempts including 3 of 4 three-point attempts and 6 of 8 free throw attempts. He also had 2 rebounds, 2 assists and finished a +15 for the game.
The Bullets had multiple players try to slow Ili down but his awareness in pick and roll situations was unstoppable. He would attack when Brisbane got over screens and would pull up when they went under.
Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis lamented his teams inability to slow Ili down particularly in the middle pick and roll. Breakers coach Paul Henare praised Ili's confidence on the court and was particularly pleased with his aggressive attack of the rim.
Coach Henare has shown great faith in Ili playing him 22 minutes per game. Ili has rewarded his coach's confidence in him by averaging a shade under 12 points per game. Ili also leads his team in free throw attempts per game which reinforces Henare's request for his young guard to play an attacking style when he is on the floor.
Shea Ili has emerged as one of the early favorites for the Most Improved Player award. He has become a true bench weapon for the table topping Breakers and is definitely one of the players to keep an eye on throughout the NBL season.