NZ Breakers' homecoming has hit its first speed bump, slipping to an 81-76 defeat to Sydney Kings in New Plymouth.
Two days after victory over the same opposition in Auckland, the Breakers couldn't repeat their result over the Kings, as Sydney's US import Jarrell Martin stole the show.
Martin finished his night with 29 points and nine rebounds, keeping the Kings' playoff hopes alive with a staggering individual display.
Despite being down 44-38 at halftime, and 61-57 into the final quarter, the Kings' rallied to sneak away with a victory, even as the result went down to the wire.
A 25-15 scoring run in the last quarter gave the Kings victory, despite a nervy finish.
The Breakers came within a sniff of causing an upset, as Corey Webster dragged the scores back to 78-76, sinking a three-pointer with just five seconds left on the clock, but the Kings kept their cool to seal a much-needed victory.
While content with his own side's win, Kings coach Adam Forde credited the Breakers' season, going as far as to say the Kiwi outfit would be in finals contention were it not for the COVID-19 affected season schedule.
"You have to respect what [coach] Dan [Shamir] has done," Forde said.
"Imagine if they had a proper home and away schedule. I would quite confidently call them a top-four team."
Martin was backed up by Casper Ware's 15 points, and Jordan Hunter who had 14 points and seven rebounds.
In just their second home game of the season, the Breakers had a number of standouts, led by American Levi Randolph's 25 points and five rebounds.
Webster added 13 points, as brother Tai chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Colton Iverson and William McDowell-White also scored 10 points apiece, with five Breakers players scoring in double figures.
The Breakers remain eighth on the ANBL ladder, three wins ahead of last-placed Cairns Taipans with a 10-21 record. The Kings meanwhile are fifth, one win away from a playoff spot of their own, albeit having played one game more than fourth-placed Illawarra Hawks.