• Shawn Long was impressive as the Breakers won their NBL clash with the Hawks in Wollongong. (AAP) (Getty)Source: Getty
An important match for both teams, with the high-flying Hawks looking to chase down Melbourne and the Breakers looking to turn around a poor start to the season.
SBS Sport

22 Feb 2021 - 3:30 PM  UPDATED 22 Feb 2021 - 3:30 PM

Watch the New Zealand Breakers play the Illawarra Hawks from 5.00pm AEDT on Sunday on SBS On Demand. 

The last time

New Zealand Breakers 65 beat Illawarra Hawks 52 

You might look at the scoreboard and think that's an incredibly low-scoring game, well that's because it was called off midway through the third quarter! With it raining outside, the water began leaking from the WIN Entertainment Centre court and wouldn’t stop. That happened with three minutes left in the third quarter and it was decided the score at the time would stand handing the Breakers a win to keep them in the NBL20 finals hunt while the Hawks' losing slide continued. 

This Time

Both teams come into this game needing a win. It's the Hawks second appearance already in the NBL Cup tournament within the regular season while the Breakers will be making their debut in Melbourne.

Illawarra started life under the legendary coach Brian Goorjian in stunning fashion winning the first four games after winning just five matches all of last season. But things have got a bit tougher since with the Hawks having lost three of their past four games including their NBL Cup opener against the Cairns Taipans on Saturday. That was after they led by as much as 12 points during the game.

Illawarra's three Americans Tyler Harvey, Justinian Jessup and Justin Simon continue to perform well but the team is still trying to find its groove upon welcoming back Deng Adel and Cam Bairstow after their injury-interrupted starts to the season. They would have felt they let one slip against the Taipans and will want to bounce back strongly against the Breakers.

New Zealand has now had to wait another 10 days since playing their last game which was a 10-point loss in Sydney. They have been away from home for more than two months now and due to some cancelled games through COVID-19, they have only played five games in the opening five rounds of the season.

The Breakers have won just one of them so not only have they had to deal with being away from home, but they haven’t been playing the type of basketball they hoped either. But they aren’t short on talent and it does appear a group capable of doing some special things when they begin to click. 

With the pure scoring abilities of Tai Webster, Corey Webster and Lamar Patterson, the all-round talents of Finn Delany and Tom Abercrombie, the presence of Coltor Iverson and then with contributions from Rasmus Back, Daniel Trist and Jarrad Weeks, and while at 1-4 right now, this team has enough tools there to make a charge despite everything conspiring against them.

The stats

- The Breakers find themselves ranked last in a lot of unwanted stats coming into the NBL Cup. They are shooting at a league-low 39.6 per cent from the field, 64.0 per cent from the foul line and are committing the most fouls with 21.4 a game.

- New Zealand also rank last in assists with 13.0 a game, last in blocks with 2.2 per match and last in scoring with 79.0 points a game.

- On a more positive note, the Breakers have won their past six matches against the Hawks by an average of 17.8 points a game.

- The last win for Illawarra against New Zealand came on January 18, 2019 when they prevailed in Wollongong 107-96. It has now been more than 25 months since the Hawks have defeated the Breakers.

The key men

Deng Adel 

Now the Hawks don't need him to come out and put up huge numbers or take over games but they can't afford him to have another game of shooting 0/15 from the field with just two rebounds, three turnovers and three fouls either. The more he struggled on Saturday against the Taipans, the more the Snakes got back into the game. Now we all know how talented he is, he has usually a great shooting touch and with his length, size and athletic ability, he should be quite the weapon for the Hawks. It's now time that he finds confidence in the system and they find a way to get the best out of him.

Lamar Patterson

The one game the Breakers have won this season saw it taken over by Lamar down the stretch up in Cairns. His old swagger was back despite that being the first game he came off the bench. By the end of that fourth quarter, his shots never looked like missing, he was willing to take on anyone and anything, and he was automatic at the charity stripe. He hasn’t been quite able to replicate that before or since. But he was a genuine MVP candidate the past two seasons with the Brisbane Bullets and if he can find that confidence and more importantly, efficiency, in this Breakers set up, then he could spark them to make a run.

SBS will again broadcast multiple regular-season NBA games per week in HD on SBS VICELAND and streamed live via SBS On Demand. Plus, every game of the upcoming 2020-21 NBL season will be LIVE, FREE and in HD via SBS On Demand, with select games also live on SBS VICELAND.