Basketball: NZ Breakers reflect on lost opportunity, as ANBL finals series heads back to Sydney

NZ Breakers are lamenting a costly home defeat that has handed momentum in their ANBL finals series back to defending champions Sydney Kings, after two games in their best-of-five series.

With their victory in the opener at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena on Friday, the Auckland club had grabbed homecourt advantage in the series, but their 81-74 loss at Spark Arena has gifted that straight back to the titleholders, who finished atop the competition table during the regular season. 

Coach Mody Maor clearly recognises the significance of the result, despite maintaining a one-game-at-a-time demeanour towards the contest. 

"Lack of composure, something we have to learn from," reflected Maor. "Championship series, big games come with challenges and you need some composure to overcome them.

"That said, it's just Game Two... onto the next game."

Alarmingly, the Breakers struggled to score for long stretches, managing just nine points in the opening quarter and 11 in the third, after closing to within 34-30 at halftime. Their deficit extended to 18 points in the final stanza, before a late flurry provided some semblance of respectability.

Sydney achieved their result without the services of injured starters Derrick Walton Jr and MVP Xavier Cooks for much the game, as their bench brigade stepped up.  

"First quarter, we got a lot of good looks, but they didn't drop," said Breakers captain Tom Abercrombie. "Defensively, we were hanging in there, but a cumulative effect of continuing to not shoot the ball well probably got to us a little bit and leaked into other parts of the game. 

Izayah Le'afa drives to the basket against Sydney Kings
Izayah Le'afa drives to the basket against Sydney Kings. Photo credit: Photosport

"That defensive end has to be a constant for us and we got distracted at that end by what was happening.

"It always felt like we were one make, one little moment away from getting ourselves back in it. We were searching for that one little spark to get us going."

Having been here before, as the lone survivor of the Breakers' four-title era, Abercrombie shares his coach's philosophical view of the contest.

"It's disappointing," he said. "It will hurt tonight, but it's a series.

"It's one loss, it's 1-1, we have to pick ourselves up and go again."

Game Three at Sydney is scheduled for Friday, with the fourth encounter back at Spark Arena on Sunday.