ANBL: NZ Breakers play waiting game, as all eyes on Melbourne derby

South East Melbourne Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said he doesn't "give a shit" about the Breakers' Australian NBL playoff hopes, knowing a win against Melbourne United would see New Zealand finish the season in fourth. 

United play the Phoenix on Sunday in the last game of the regular season.  If United win they will leapfrog the Breakers and make the finals due to their superior points differential. 

But if they lose then New Zealand advance to the next round.

"I don't give a shit about the Breakers," said Mitchell. "I'm not here to do any favours, bugger them, I don’t care. 

"We are going to go and worry about ourselves and give our best against Melbourne. But I don’t care what it means for the Breakers." 

The Breakers overtook United in the standings after they beat the Phoenix 92-83 on Friday night at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch to finish the season with a 15-13 record. 

The fact the Breakers have even put themselves in a position to finish inside the top four is remarkable considering they were lingering at the bottom with a 4-10 record halfway through the season - the same time they released Corey Webster from his contract. 

Since then, they've won 11 of their last 14 games.

There is a slim chance the Brisbane Bullets could also overtake the Breakers in the standings, but they need to beat the Cairns Taipans by 33 points for that to happen. 

Regardless it will be a nervous 48-hour wait with all eyes now on the Melbourne derby for the Breakers and coach Dan Shamir. 

NZ Breakers coach Dan Shamir.
NZ Breakers coach Dan Shamir. Photo credit: Getty

"I'm very proud of the players to get this win and taking care of business on our end," said Shamir. "Now we had to wait for the other results, but it wasn’t an easy situation to play in. 

"It wasn’t the greatest game of ours, but these are the toughest games. We got it done and that's added to the last 14 games that we've played the right way."

The Breakers were very fortunate to beat the Phoenix, who were leading 67-63 early in the fourth quarter.

But MVP candidate Scotty Hopson continued his stunning form, scoring 23 points, 10 assists and five rebounds to help the Breakers to victory.

Rob Loe and To Abercrombie both chipped in with 18 points each.  

"South East Melbourne is not an easy team, they are tough and we had to work really hard at the defensive end," Shamir added. 

The Phoenix head into the match against their cross-town rivals on a seven-game losing streak. 

They did beat United in the opening game of the season but lost to them twice afterwards. 

"It has been a little while since we last played Melbourne, but we're just going to have to galvanise, get the bruises out and get the guys healthy as quickly as we can," said Mitchell. 

"We'll go hard and take it at them, and we just need a little luck and something to go our way. It's been a little while."

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