NBL 2014/15 Round 17 Preview: Rivals to battle in New Zealand

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New Zealand Breakers (17-6) vs. Perth Wildcats (13-9)

Thursday, January 29th, 7:30pm (local)

North Shore Events Centre

Odds: New Zealand $1.36, Perth Wildcats $3.05


New Zealand and Perth have been the teams leading the league in recent years, winning the last five championships between them.

As expected, both teams are in contention to take out this years crown. New Zealand are sitting second on the ladder and Perth third.

Other teams around the league will have a close eye on this match-up, hoping the result falls favourably for them and keeping the playoff window open.

The Breakers will be looking to bounce back against Perth after a shock loss to Sydney last week.

Their star import Cedric Jackson is in some stellar form, having a triple double against Melbourne only two weeks ago. He will be eager to lead his team to another victory in their quest for top spot.

Perth have struggled to find their regular form lately after a few injuries hit the team putting Matt Knight and Earnest Ross out for lengthy periods. They come off a big loss to Cairns, where they gave up a 31-5 last quarter.

Key Player

Damian Martin

Martin has won the last four defensive player of the year awards and is in contention for this years title. Week after week, Martin takes out the opposition point guard with his impressive hands and speed on the defensive end.

This week he will be matched up on one of the leagues best players, Cedric Jackson. Jackson is a former league MVP and can change a game on his own. Being one of the more dangerous players in the league, it will be an incredible battle between the point guards.

Not only can Martin impact the game on the defensive end, but also can pull down a huge amount of rebounds on both ends of the court.

If this all round player can win his match up against the star in Jackson, we might have a close game on our hands.

What to watch for

Desperation from Perth

As the season comes to an end and the race for the finals gets closer, this years Perth Wildcats do not want to be the first Perth team in 28 years to miss the playoffs.

These Wildcats will be desperate to leave New Zealand with the win and keep their place inside the top four.

Every game played from now until the end of the season is very important, especially for Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne who are all fighting for positions three to five. They are separated by only two games and with the Wildcats injuries and tough run home, it's any teams place to take.

Expect to see these players pushing to their limits and diving for loose balls all over the court.

Final Word

New Zealand will be looking to make a statement and reclaim top spot on the ladder by beating the defending champions in convincing style. Cedric Jackson will be damaging as always as will Corey Webster, who if gets hot can shoot any team out of the game. The Breakers fans will be right behind their team as Perth comes to town.

Perth will be fighting hard, led by their stars Martin and Shaun Redhage who will both be eager to keep their beloved Perth in the top four. Perth will likely play a physical brand of basketball to try to throw New Zealand off their game.

Both teams are a great representation of a quality basketball team and have been for several years. It will be a tough battle but the Wildcats injuries will trouble the visitors with the depth of the Breaker bench.

New Zealand by 7