Perth Wildcats end winning streak of James Hunter’s New Zealand Breakers

James Hunter (top) and his Breakers team. Photo: David Rowland
James Hunter (top) and his Breakers team. Photo: David Rowland

CAMBEWARRA’S James Hunter and his New Zealand Breakers’ winning run ended at nine with defeat at the hands of arch rival Perth Wildcats at North Shore Events Centre on Friday, the Wildcats taking a scrappy encounter 89-73.

The Breakers could never find their groove coming back from the international break, beaten on the boards and in almost all scoring stats by the hungry Wildcats, who close to one game behind the Breakers on the NBL ladder with the win.

Best for the home team was centre Alex Pledger, with 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting, but just two more players hit double figures, with Edgar Sosa and DJ Newbill scoring 10 apiece.

The three-ball wasn’t dropping for the Breakers though, making just 7 of 29 long range attempts, compared to a more efficient 7 of 20 for the Wildcats, with Jesse Wagstaff key in that area making 4 of 6 from deep, many of them in the final quarter as the wildcats spaced the Breakers to the final buzzer.

Best for the visitors were JP Tokoto with 25 points and Wagstaff with 19 on the back of the hot hand from deep.

Bryce Cotton was kept quiet, but wasn’t needed on a night when others took on the scoring burden.

More disappointing for head coach Paul Henare will be the effort areas, with Perth winning the rebound count 47-38, including 19 offensive boards (14 in the first half) that kept the scoring momentum and the pressure on the home side.

“There were signs early on, we came in with a leaky boat and by the fourth quarter it sunk,” Henare said.

“To let in that number of offensive rebounds, we were well behind the eight-ball in those areas that we addressed.

“We knew it was coming, but we didn’t seem to have that extra gear to kick into and when you give up those sorts of possessions it can be deflating.

“We just got beat by a better championship side tonight, we need to take the lesson and move forward.

“We held them to a respectable margin early on and forced them into tough shots early on, but when you are playing on the road you just want to hang around and make a run, and Wagstaff got hot and did just that.”