Basketball: NZ Breakers ANBL season ends after heartbreaking playoff loss to Illawarra Hawks


The Breakers' season is over after an 88-85 loss to the Illawarra Hawks in the Australian NBL basketball play-offs.

Guard Justin Robinson starred for the Hawks in the Play-In win, with 24 of his 26 points coming in a tight second half.

Illawarra made an impressive start and led 31-17 after the first quarter before the Breakers fought back to level the scores at half time.

It remained close in the second half with Robinson hitting three pairs of free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the win.

Breakers superstar Parker Jackson-Cartwright had the chance to send the game to overtime with a three-point attempt at the buzzer, but the ball bounced out of the hoop.

Jackson-Cartwright had 19 points and Zylan Cheatham 14.

The Hawks, who began the season with a 2-7 record, now have the chance to book a Championship Series berth when they face Melbourne United in a three-match Playoff series that begins on Thursday.

The result ends Tom Abercrombie's NBL career after 429 games, with the Breakers' most-capped player announcing his intention to retire just before the end of the regular season.

The Breakers captain not only retires as having played the most games for New Zealand, but is a four-time championship winner, a Grand Final MVP and has scored the Breakers' most points, hit the most field goals and his No. 10 will be in the rafters at Spark Arena before long.

The Breakers battled injuries all season and only just made it into the play-offs.

"In the middle of the season we had this slogan, we're either the best team that never was or the best team that ever was, and if we'd have made the semi-finals that means we'd have been the best team that ever was, because of all the things we overcame in order to get there," head coach Mody Maor said afterwards.

"In all honesty, and I told this to the guys at the end of the game, sometimes the ball doesn't break your way, and results don't fall the way you want them to fall ... it's not always the end result that you need to judge yourself by."