The NZ Breakers have found a winning formula in the Australian NBL and it doesn't seem to involve much-hyped NBA prospect RJ Hampton.
He missed last night's 90-68 victory over Melbourne - the team's seventh win in nine games - and the stats suggest they're better off without their star man.
If defence wins championships, then the Breakers showed their credentials at Spark Arena on Sunday.
They held Melbourne to their lowest score all season and after Friday's win against the league-leading Sydney Kings, the Breakers are now one win off fourth and full of confidence, as they look to make a late run into the playoffs.
"We wanted to see if we had what it takes to be a playoff team," said captain Tom Abercrombie. "And you've got to beat playoff teams to do that."
Helping their cause is an injury ward that is finally starting to clear.
Import Sek Henry played a valuable 11 minutes off the bench last night, despite being given a two percent chance to play before the game.
The only person not available at the moment is RJ Hampton, who's out indefinitely with a hip injury - but the Breakers are showing they can win without him.
Their record when Hampton is on the court is four wins and 11 losses. In the eight games, he's missed, the Breakers have won seven and lost just once.
Hampton's replacement, Jarrad Weeks, thinks it's a case of the side starting to click.
"I think we're just a little bit more composed," said Weeks. "We've had a lot of injuries throughout this whole season, so we're trying to get some continuity together and I think guys are just learnt to play with each other."
American Scotty Hopson's also been a major factor in the Breakers' resurgence. He's averaged more than 20 points since returning from injury
"We just understand every game we've got is a must-win situation," Hopson noted.
And Saturday will be no different, as they travel to the second-placed Wildcats in Perth.
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