NBL 2014/15 Round 19: Wilson stars as 36ers win eighth straight in NZ thriller

Despite controlling most of the match, the Adelaide 36ers were forced to fight off a desperate New Zealand Breakers comeback in a 93-88 victory, denying a Cedric Jackson triple-double while securing their eighth straight win and their sixth consecutive on the road.

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Trailing by 9 points at the final break, Corey Webster scored the first five of the final term, pulling the Breakers back into the contest. Adelaide were able to respond though, extending the margin to a game high 12 mid-way through the quarter which caused New Zealand Coach Dean Vickerman to call a time-out.

His pep talk sparked one final charge from the home side, with three pointers from Webster, Cedric Jackson and Tom Abercrombie capping a 17-5 run which tied the game with two minutes remaining.

A strip at mid-court and dunk from Ekene Ibekwe then handed New Zealand their first lead since the opening quarter which he followed with a scoop shot to give his side a 3 point lead.

However, Jamar Wilson was not to be denied in this game. He ran the length of the floor in seven seconds for a lay-up after that Ibekwe make and was fouled on the following offensive play. His two free throws gave the Sixers back the lead, setting up one final chance for the Breakers. They had to settle for an Abercrombie contested three, which was on line but rimmed out.

The front court of Adelaide has been receiving all the headlines but Wilson deserves the accolades for this performance, shooting 11-21 for 28 points. The point guard was fired up from the opening tip, scoring 8 in the first term as his side shot 63%. They answered an 8-0 Breakers run to start the term with a 9-0 run of their own to finish the period, giving them a 5 point quarter-time lead.

Keeping New Zealand in the contest, Webster had 16 points by the main break on 4-5 shooting from distance but had to sit late with 3 fouls. His absence was balanced by three fouls for Brock Motum although this opened up the floor for Daniel Johnson.

Another exceptional addition to an already stacked front court, Johnson (15 points, 8 rebounds) exemplified his talents with a fast break dunk followed by several pretty jump shots. Six of his 15 points came in the second term, helping Adelaide to a 7 point half-time lead.

The Sixers came out of the locker room in a zone defence, concerned about their opposition’s points in the paint. The ploy worked perfectly, holding New Zealand to 15 points in the quarter while Wilson went manic at the other end.

He had 11 of Adelaide’s 19 for the term, breaking down the hosts defences with a series of spin moves under the basket and pull up mid-range jumpers. On the back of his hot hand, the Sixers looked to be cruising, having extended their lead at every change.

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Completing an impressive guard combo alongside Wilson, Adam Gibson recorded a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Motum finished with 18 and 5 and has now scored 18+ in his past five games.

For the first time since 2004, a triple double came from a member of the losing side but that doesn’t discredit Jackson’s 11 points, 11 boards and 11 assists at all. Looking purely at the stats, it is hard to figure how he and Webster (26 points at 71%) could not get the Breakers over the line. Ibekwe was solid with 14 and 7 rebounds while Abercrombie had 10 points in the opening term and 15 overall after being called out by his coach during the week.

With matches against Perth and Townsville to come in Round 20, Adelaide are honing in on third place and could snatch it with a victory over the Wildcats. New Zealand now sit a game out of top spot but have their fate in their own hands with a game in Perth this Sunday before a possible finals preview against Cairns next round.

New Zealand Breakers 88 (Webster 26, Abercrombie 15, Ibekwe 14)

Adelaide 36ers 93 (Wilson 28, Motum 18, Johnson 15)

@ Vector Arena