NZ Breakers have fallen to their third successive Australian NBL defeat, going down 91-82 to South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena on Wednesday.
Led by swingman star Finn Delany, the NZ side kept pace with the top-four side through three quarters of the contest, before import guard Keifers Sykes powered the Phoenix to victory in the final quarter, where he scored 11 of his 21 points.
The loss consigns the Breakers to the bottom of the NBL ladder, as they prepare to return to New Zealand next week to play out the final stretch of their season.
Tall Blacks forward Delany was - yet again - the Breakers best - pouring in 32 points on 13 of 20 shooting to go with six rebounds. Centre Rob Loe made an impact off the bench, adding 19 points and seven rebounds.
Breakers coach Dan Shamir praised his players' resilience, after an administrative error upon returning from Perth saw them forced into a brief isolation period and unable to train for the match.
"A lot of teams I know of would not look like that," Shamir said.
"We are taking a lot of beatings but one thing is for sure, people are not turning against each other or quitting or not doing the work 100 percent.
"We don’t need anyone to feel sorry for us. Even in games like that, our job is to find a way to win and, with a little bit more focus in a lot of points in the game, we could have won this game."
"But 100 percent hats off to the character everyone is showing and for doing the job right under tough circumstances."
Officially out of playoffs contention, the Breakers will now travel to Wollongong to face the Illawarra Hawks in their final game for the season on Australian soil.
They'll play Sydney Kings at Auckland's Trusts Arena on Thursday.