NBL 2014/15 Round 5: Ibekwe, Breakers stop streaking Snakes

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The undefeated Cairns Taipans are no more, as the New Zealand Breakers took game one of their North Queensland weekend challenge, defeating the Snakes 79-71.

Star performances from Breakers imports Ekene Ibekwe and Cedric Jackson had team morale at an all time high, leading their team to a vital road victory.

Ibekwe was simply everywhere tonight; finding his groove deep inside the paint on the offensive end, while down the other end he was swatting shots in every direction. His equal game high 20 points went along with 14 rebounds and two blocks, however his impact on the defensive end felt like 12 blocks!

His run and gun pal Jackson joined him, finding picture perfect passes down the lane, as he tallied up 10 assists plus nine points and seven rebounds. His excellence early paved the way for the visitors to leave with the points.

It was New Zealand who jumped out of the gates early with a quick 8-2 lead. Their forwards doing all of the damage in the restricted area, Ibekwe was tormenting the orange while Mike Vukona got himself going early with 10 points by half time.

Torrey Craig (13 points, 4 rebounds) kept the home side within touching distance, hitting a great triple in the first, followed by an And1 dunk in the second.

Offensive rebounds were key for the Breakers, keeping their opponents at bay. New Zealand had a distinct advantage in the opening twenty minutes led by none other than Ekene Ibekwe.

Craig was at it again throughout the third quarter, pegging the margin back for the Taipans with a great highlight play starting with a block at one end to finish with a massive three pointer to bring the margin to within four. Craig unfortunately created his blooper reel, air balling a free throw only a minute later.

Back and forth we went to start the final period, with Jackson starting to make his mark on the scoreboard with a three as the shot clock expired.

For the Taipans, both Scottie Wilbekin and Craig sent nerves down everyone in the arena as both Cairns imports went down late with injury. Thankfully Wilbekin (cramp) and Craig (back) checked back in the game.

Late heroics were not quite there tonight for the Snakes, as the home side fell short of breaking all sorts of records at 8-0.

Cairns Taipans 71 (Loughton 20, Wilbekin 17, Craig 13)

New Zealand Breakers 79 (Ibekwe 20, Webster 16, Vukona 12)

@ Cairns Convention Centre