It's shaping up as a HUGE sporting night tonight, with back-to-back sudden-death matches in the ANBL and the A-League respectively.
First-up comes the basketball, and so far it's history repeating. Last year the Breakers turned on a sub-par performance in their play-off series against the Perth Wildcats losing the first match at home. They were written off before the second match at The Jungle in Perth, the rowdiest, most hostile venue in the ANBL. Against the odds they upset the Cats in Perth, then won the third game in Auckland, and went on to beat the Cairns Taipans in the finals series.
The Breakers were awful last Friday night against Townsville Crocodiles, and with star import Cedric Jackson spraining an ankle in training on Tuesday, the outlook looked grim. Some intensive physiotherapy and a needle got Jackson ready to play, and his first act on Thursday night was to land a sweet three point shot on his way to a dominant role as the Breakers levelled the series.
They flew back from Townsville yesterday, and tonight go head-to-head with the Crocs again at Vector Arena. Tickets for tonight's match went on sale yesterday, and over 5000 have sold already. And if the Breakers can play with the same intensity they showed in Townsville, they should hold too many guns for the North Queenslanders and go on to a second successive ANBL finals series.
And in the other round-ball code, the Wellington Phoenix take on the Perth Glory tonight in week two of the A-League finals. The equation is simple; the winner tonight gets a match next week against the Central Coast Mariners where a place in the A-League Grand Final against the Brisbane Roar is at stake. For the losers, that's the end of the orad for 2011-12.
Ricki Herbert reckons that this is the best Phoenix season yet. Given that at the start of the season the club's future was anything but secure and that Herbert barely had a team to put on the park, it's hard to disagree. Beating an in-form Perth in Perth is a big task, but this 'Nix side has faced no end of big tasks this season. If they can successfully shut down former 'Nix striker Shane Smeltz, they have every chance of extending their season for at least another week.