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United beat Breakers, nab NBL finals berth

Melbourne United have survived a late scare to beat the New Zealand Breakers in overtime, the reigning NBL champions locking in a playoff berth in the process.

United beat Breakers, nab NBL finals berth

Melbourne United have survived a late scare to beat the New Zealand Breakers in overtime, the reigning NBL champions locking in a playoff berth in the process.

COREY WEBSTER of the Breakers brings the ball up court during the NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Brisbane Bullets at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
COREY WEBSTER of the Breakers brings the ball up court during the NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Brisbane Bullets at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. Picture:Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Melbourne United are headed back to the NBL playoffs after defeating the New Zealand Breakers 111-102 in an overtime thriller.

United overcame a slow start and a late fightback on Sunday to complete back-to-back wins over the Breakers, extending their unbeaten run to four games.


DJ Kennedy's three-pointer broke a 91-91 deadlock in the final minutes of regulation, but Corey Webster sent the game into overtime on a triple with 10 seconds to play.

Casper Ware took over for Melbourne in the extra period, scoring seven of United's 15 points to wrap up the win.

"Casper hadn't had his greatest night but I thought he still made some pretty good decisions for us down the stretch," United coach Dean Vickerman said.

Ware almost won the game in regulation with a running heave in the final second that was on target before rimming out.

Melbourne retain top spot on the ladder with a 16-8 record and confirm their place in the finals with two rounds to play.

After being smashed 107-87 by United on Friday at home, the Breakers stunned the crowd at Melbourne Arena as they raced out to a 15-point lead early in the second quarter.

But the defending champions refocused to outscore New Zealand 25-9 to lead at halftime before piling on 34 points in the third quarter.

With their season on the line, the Breakers made a late charge to send the game into overtime before falling short at the end.

"I feel like we were way better than we were on Friday, that's for sure," coach Kevin Braswell said after the Breakers' second loss to Melbourne in three nights, leaving them three games adrift of fourth spot.

"It's tough to swallow that one because we know how badly we needed that win."

Mitch McCarron (25 points, eight rebounds, six assists) led the way for Melbourne, while Kennedy (23 points, nine rebounds, six assists) produced another solid all-round game.

Shawn Long was dominant under the basket for New Zealand with 28 points and 14 rebounds while Shea Ili added 18.

Tai Wesley ensured the Breakers started strongly by scoring their opening eight points and Ili swished a buzzer-beating heave from near the half-court line for the 29-21 advantage.

New Zealand opened the second term with seven-straight points to lead 36-21 before Melbourne worked their way back.

Ahead 46-45 at the end of the first half, United exploded out of the blocks with a 19-5 start to the third stanza.

The visitors managed to stem the flow but, with McCarron shooting sweetly from beyond the arc, Melbourne went into the final quarter up 80-68.

But United could not close out the win in regulation, New Zealand running off a 28-16 fourth term to extend the game.

AAP


AAP




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