THE Breakers’ tilt at an ANBL three-peak got off to the worst possible start, going down 93-72 to arch-rivals Perth Wildcats in Auckland.
It was the first time in a decade that the defending champs have lost their first game at home.
They started brightly, leading 18-12 early, before finding themselves on the receiving end of a 20-2 run, and then allowing Perth another 20 points to let them establish a 52-27 lead.
“We played like we were running in mud at stages,” coach Andrej Lemanis told APNZ.
“They played with much better desire and hunger. In the first half our defensive energy and effort weren’t where they need to be.”
Their much heralded offensive game could only earn 34 points in the first half, while the visitors almost scored at will.
They worked themselves into good positions at the basket, found the open man and hustled on defence.
The Breakers however, committed too many turnovers, missed plenty of shots, and lost the rebound dual at both ends of the court.
It was a disappointing performance at the sold out North Shore Events Centre, where before tip-off a second ANBL champions banner was unfurled.
Perth, beaten finalists last year, refused to watch the ceremony, remaining in a huddle, and their on-court efforts showed they were keen to make a statement.
“I didn’t expect that [kind of result],” Perth coach Rob Beveridge said.
“Obviously it was an emotional night with the raising of the banner. It was good for us to be here to see that because it makes us hungrier.”