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NZ Breakers breeze past Cairns Taipans to improve to 9-3 for NBL season

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At Cairns Convention Centre: NZ Breakers 82 (Jarrell Brantley 20, Barry Brown Jr 20, Dererk Pardon 15, Izayah Leafa 11), Cairns Taipans 71 (Sam Waardenburg 15, Keanu PInder 14, Tahjere McCall 13). 1Q: 16-23; HT: 35-32; 3Q: 58-52.
For a team a little peeved by their travel schedule, the Breakers sure are making a decent fist of life on the road in this Australian NBL.

Mody Maors men on Friday night improved to 6-1 in Australia for 2022-23 as they rolled past the Cairns Taipans in North Queensland with yet another strong fourth-quarter finish. It was their second straight victory over the Snakes this season at their home venue.

The victory improves the Kiwi club to 9-3 overall for the season and is their sixth win in the last seven as they continue to make their mark on this league. The Taipans drop back to 6-4.

The Breakers were led by a pair of standout displays from imports Jarrell Brantley and Barry Brown Jr who poured in 20 points apiece, while the Kiwi club once again leaned heavily on their league-best defence, keeping their hosts to just 40% shooting from the floor and 28 from beyond the arc.

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Brown, once again flourishing in his sixth-man role, shook off a slow first two quarters to score 16 of his 20 points after halftime to go 8 of 16 from the floor and 3 of 6 from deep, while adding 6 boards, 2 assists and a pair of steals.

Brantley used his well-credentialled power game to good effect as he made 9 of 18 shots overall and 2 of 8 from beyond the arc to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while his frontcourt mate Dererk Pardon made it four double-doubles in the last five games with a typically busy 15 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

Izaya Leafa also chipped in with 11 points for the Kiwi club, while his backcourt compadre Will McDowell-White added 9 points and 8 assists in another polished showing. The Breakers shot a solid 47% overall for the game (32 of 68) and made 11 of their 34 triples, though coach Maor was less enthused about the 17 turnovers (nine coming in the opening stanza).

Emily Barker/Getty Images
Breakers guard Will McDowell-White takes it to the Taipans Keanu Pinder and DJ Hogg in Cairns on Friday night.

Kiwi Sam Waardenburg paced the Taipans with 15 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) and 6 boards, while Keanu PInder added 14 points and 10 boards. The normally productive DJ Hogg found the smothering Breakers defence hard to deal with as he finished with 4 points on 1-of-9 shooting.

The Breakers did well to shake off a shoddy opening quarter, where nine turnovers morphed into a 23-16 deficit, to work their way back into the game with a 19-9 second stanza for the 35-32 advantage at the major break.

As has been the way of late, Pardon was a big factor for the Kiwi club, pouring in 13 first-half points (on 5 of 7 shooting) and adding 8 rebounds and 2 blocks to set the tone for his club. Brantleys 9 points, 3 boards and 2 dimes helped as well, as did the Snakes going just 2 of 13 from the floor and committing 5 turnovers.


The Kiwi club edged their lead out to six (58-52) by the end of the third term, with the Taipans aided by a halfcourt buzzer-beater from Tahjere McCall, and after a few anxious moments early in the final term took command behind some clutch buckets from Brown, Brantley and Leafa over the run home.

The Breakers now return home to host the Brisbane Bullets at Spark Arena on Sunday (4pm tip) after the Queensland outfit just sacked head coach James Duncan.

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