Tai Webster has marked his return to the Aussie NBL with an impressive 34 points, but it wasn't enough, as NZ Breakers went down 94-91 in overtime to Adelaide 36ers in their season opener.
The Tall Blacks international, who has spent the last nine years playing overseas, led a rusty Breakers side that made a slow start in their first outing in almost a year.
Webster talked a big game leading into the contest, but delivered on his expectations of being one of the best point guards in the league, racking up a game-high 34 points to go with seven rebounds, six assists and five turnovers.
Even the point guard, playing his first game for the club since he was a teenage development prospect, had his rusty moments.
He missed 17 shots and used the entire game to find his rhythm, eventually shooting 5/9 from beyond the arc in the standout performance from an out-of-sorts Breakers outfit.
Finn Delany was the best of the rest for the Auckland side, finishing with 16 points (on 6/15 shooting) and nine rebounds in 27 minutes, but wasn't able to help his club down the stretch, as cramps ruled him out when the Breakers needed him most.
Star import Lamar Jackson had a quiet night in his first appearance for the club, with a messy display after a fortnight of quarantine and a short preparation.
He shot 16 points (6/16 field goal, 1/7 three-pointers), five boards and seven turnovers, while captain Tom Abercrombie was nowhere near his best after an early tumble, en route to his 11 points (4/7 field goals) and four rebounds.
One big difference between the two sides was the contribution from the bench. The Breakers had just 10 points, compared to the home side's 29 points.
The third quarter provided the highlight for the Auckland side. Webster found his groove from three-point range, while Patterson and Delany chipped away to have the Breakers up 70-62 at the three-quarter mark, and looking well on the way to a first-up victory.
A huge no-call on Patterson as he tried to close out the game gave the home side a chance to tie it and send it to overtime
Adelaide import Donald Sloan (20 points, three assists) did just that when he nailed an open three-pointer to send the game to overtime (82-82), as the Kiwis produced a sloppy final quarter.
The Breakers ran out of steam in overtime, and weren't helped by Rob Loe and Tai Webster both fouling out to leave their side undermanned.
The away side lost Dan Trist before the game for breaching COVID protocols and he will have to isolate for the next 14 days.
The NBL revealed the team had given permission for a family member to visit Trist in Adelaide, which constituted a breach of the league's protocols and Western Australia regulations (where the Breakers head next).
Even with the first-up loss, there was a lot to like from Dan Shamir's men, as they overcome a slow start to put themselves in the box seat for victory.
The Breakers won't have to wait long for revenge, as they play the 36ers next in Adelaide on Wednesday.
Adelaide 36ers 94 (Isaac Humphries 24, Donald Sloan 20, Daniel Johnson 16) NZ Breakers 91 (Tai Webster 34, Finn Delany 16, Lamar Patterson 16, Tom Abercrombie 11)