Wildcats suffer rare home defeat
The New Zealand Breakers have conquered the jungle, defeating the Perth Wildcats 83-78 at RAC Arena on Sunday.
The Breakers were in a major hole trailing by 13 points midway through the third quarter before a remarkable offensive onslaught overwhelmed the two-time defending champions, who were playing their fifth game in 11 days.
It was sweet revenge for the Breakers who lost an overtime thriller to the Wildcats last week in Launceston.
Levi Randolph (23 points) was the hero off the bench for the visitors, highlighted by a spectacular burst late in the third stanza to turn the game around.
Colton Iverson (11 points, 17 rebounds) dominated the paint amid an absorbing battle with John Mooney, who was the Wildcats' standout with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Bryce Cotton, the hot favourite to win his second straight MVP award, struggled with 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field.
It was a costly defeat for the Wildcats (17-6) who slipped one game behind league leaders Melbourne United, while the Breakers (7-16) remain second bottom after round 14.
"Sometimes it just starts rolling. We played well and defended great," Breakers coach Dan Shamir said.
"This was a great win for us and we are very happy."
Coming off a cold shooting game last start against Illawarra, Cotton drained his first field goal but Perth could not shrug off a determined Breakers led by Iverson, who had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter.
The Wildcats looked fatigued during a dour second stanza but Mooney picked up the scoring slack with 14 first-half points to fuel the Wildcats' 42-39 lead at the long break.
The home side made their move after halftime with eight straight points and threatened to blow the game open before the Breakers' incredible 22-4 run powered them to a 65-60 advantage at the last change.
The Breakers fended off a late Wildcats rally marked by a brilliant steal and layup from captain Tom Abercrombie with 16 seconds left to ruin the 250-game milestones of Mitch Norton and coach Trevor Gleeson.
The Wildcats' three-game home stand ends on Friday night against the Brisbane Bullets, while the Breakers host Cairns in the earlier fixture.