Captain Mika Vukona was at the heart of a thunderous NZ Breakers comeback, maintaining their unbeaten NBL home record with a 96-84 win on Friday over the Sydney Kings.
The defending champions cement third place with their 10th win from 15 games – and their eighth from eight at home – while the last-placed Kings lose further ground, slumping to an 11th loss from 14.
Winless on the road, the visitors threatened to turn form on its head after powering nine points clear early on and leading 21-14 and 45-37 through the first two quarters.
Vukona orchestrated the home revival, not only through his trademark rebounding where he pulled down a game-high 11, but the burly power forward also led the Breakers for scoring (18 points) and steals (three).
Point guard Cedric Jackson wasn’t far behind for effectiveness, scoring 17 and dishing 11 assists as the Breakers made it three from three this season against the Kings.
Charles Jackson, Thomas Abercrombie and the returning Tai Webster all scored in double figures, atoning for a quiet night for Corey Webster.
The league’s leading scorer notched two points in the first half before finishing with 10.
Jason Cadee scored 19 for Sydney, while fellow guard Marcus Thornton managed 17 and centre Julian Khazzou 15.
New import Damion James showed some promising touches for the visitors after entering late in the first quarter.
The four-season NBA forward snared 11 rebounds in his first appearance as a replacement for the injured Josh Childress. His shooting was mixed, finishing with seven points.
James faces another whistle-stop plane flight, with the Kings to play the Perth Wildcats on Sunday in Sydney.
The Breakers will enjoy a nine-day break before playing the Illawarra Hawks in Auckland.