Basketball: NZ Breakers' playoffs hopes take another hit, throw away lead in loss to Illawarra Hawks

NZ Breakers' chances of reaching the ANBL playoffs have taken another hit, after an 89-85 defeat to Illawarra Hawks.  

In a meeting between the sixth-placed Breakers and seventh-placed Hawks, the Kiwi outfit squandered a 68-64 lead heading into the final quarter and have fallen out of the top six, with five regular season games remaining.  

Defeat sees the Breakers fall from fifth to eighth on the ladder, albeit with a game in hand over Sydney Kings, who have 11 wins from their 24 games so far this season.   

Gary Cook in action against the Breakers.
Gary Cook in action against the Breakers. Photo credit: Getty Images

The loss is the second time this season the Hawks have claimed bragging rights between the two sides, after a 69-65 win in November.  

Down 87-85 in the dying seconds, the Breakers' last chance to send the encounter to overtime was squandered, when the ball hit the foot of guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright.  

Despite leading in the final stages, the Breakers discipline came back to haunt them, and saw the trio of Zylan Cheatham, Mantas Rubstavicius and Anthony Lamb foul out, forced to watch from the sidelines.

Gary Clark led the way for Illawarra, with a game-high 29 points and eight rebounds, and found valuable support in a second-half showing from captain Tyler Harvey.  

Despite scoring just two points in the opening two quarters, Harvey sank 17 in the second-half, as the Breakers struggled to contain the opposition skipper.  

While the Hawks had just two players score in double figures, the Breakers had four - as Cheatham (19 points, 11 rebounds), Jackson-Cartwright (18), Rubstavicius (17) and Lamb (13) contributed.  

After two games in 48 hours, following Friday's win over Tasmania JackJumpers, the Breakers will have a week to return to the drawingboard, before looking to re-discover winning ways, when they travel to face Perth Wildcats away next Sunday.