Blaze crash and burn in opener
THE New Zealand Breakers dominated a tense final quarter to surge to a 100-87 victory over the Gold Coast Blaze in their National Basketball League season-opener at Gold Coast Convention Centre on Friday night.
The Breakers out-scored the home team 32-20 in the final stanza to start their championship defence in great style.
Thomas Abercrombie led the way for the Breakers with 25 points, while Boomers star Mark Worthington bagged a game-high 28 points for the Blaze.
Worthington used all of his international experience to keep the Blaze in the game early, scoring six unanswered points, including a spectacular coast-to-coast effort off his own rebound, to guide his team back from an eight-point deficit in the second quarter.
Journeyman Stephen Hoare exploded into life for Gold Coast in the third quarter, draining a buzzer-beating triple, pulling down a crucial rebound and completing a three-point play as the Blaze claimed a five-point lead.
However, the home team's tenacity died away in the last quarter as Breakers veteran CJ Bruton awoke from a three-quarter slumber to pile on the pain in the final term, quickly turning his two points into 11, as well as providing several marvellous game-breaking passes to the men under the hoops.
Young American import Will Hudson had an impressive debut for the Blaze, bagging 18 points in a solid all-round display, which augers well for a successful season with his new team.