The NZ Breakers have done it; they are only the fifth team to win back-to-back ANBL titles. Two clutch three-pointers from series MVP CJ Bruton in the dying minutes propelled the Breakers to a 79-73 victory at a packed, rowdy Vector Arena tonight.
We'll review the match and the season tomorrow sometime. But right now it's time to celebrate a fantastic achievement from a double-champion team!
The ANBL Championship goes on the line tonight at Vector Arena. By about 9.30pm this evening, there'll be a winner and a loser, and the season will be over.
The parallels with last season are striking. The Breakers won the Minor Premiership last year, then lost their first play-off match to the Perth Wildcats, and their season looked done and dusted. But inspired by Mika Vukona, they beat Perth at The Jungle, and won the decider at home. They then met the Cairns Taipans, won the first match, lost in Cairns in double overtime, then returned home and stormed to the title in the Championship game.
Thus far, 2011-12 has been a facsimile of 2010-11. The Breakers have been the best team in the ANBK week in and week out, but that will count for nothing if they lose tonight. But we don't think that they will; Vecotr Arena sold out within an hour when tickets went on sale on Saturday, and there will be a vociferous crowd there tonight. And after dominating the Wildcats for most of Game Two, the Breakers should have an advantage, especially if Thomas Abercrombie gets plenty of minutes.
The Breakers have plenty of play-off experience now. CJ Bruton, even though he missed a drive to the basket that may have won Game Two is a cool operator, with multiple titles to his name. Cedric Jackson is under an injury cloud, but he was under an injury cloud as well in Game Two at Townsville, and played a blinder. Dillon Boucher will get under the skin of the Perth players, and Vukona is due a big match.
The two best teams in the league will go hammer-and-tongs for the title and there's no love lost between them; that's about as good as sport gets. Bring it on!