Brisbane Bullets bound for NBL finals

Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis has fired back at the club's critics after his side qualified for the NBL playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Their title hopes, which had been on life support after losing five of their previous six games, are still flickering after an 84-78 win against the New Zealand Breakers at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Saturday.

Despite finishing level on 14 wins apiece, the Adelaide 36ers' season is over due to their inferior points percentage.

Brisbane is now set to face the NBL's top-placed side, most likely the Perth Wildcats, when the finals kick off later this month.

The drought-breaking win came in the most dramatic of circumstances, with Lamar Patterson sealing the result with an ice-cool three-pointer in the final minute.

Lemanis offered a rare glimpse of emotion to defend the team against those who have questioned his position along the tightrope run to the finals.

"There are a lot of naysayers out there and people who want to bag at every possible moment," Lemanis said.

"I don't care about people like that - I'm much bigger picture than that.

"For people who are experiencing it for the first time, and having to deal with all that sort of stuff, it's hard to see people go through that.

"When you get some success and those people are rewarded for staying the course ... that for me is tremendous reward."

New Zealand went close to causing heartbreak, with centre Shawn Long leading the Breakers with 23 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Patterson delivered in the second half to finish with 23 points and eight rebounds.

But the grunt work was done by veteran forward Mika Vukona, whose 14 points and seven boards came in the toughest battleground against New Zealand's bigs.

Tension peaked for the near-capacity 3322-crowd when the visitors levelled with less than three minutes remaining.

Patterson hit two clutch buckets and, combined with desperate defence, the Bullets were home.

A back injury to Cameron Gliddon meant that if the Bullets were to grab the last spot, they had to do it without one of their most lethal long-range shooters.

That guard Jason Cadee shot 13 of the team's first 15 points was a sign that at least one Bullet was prepared to step up.

New Zealand's Tai Wesley scored 10 of his 17 points in the last quarter to give the Bullets a fright but there was enough composure from Brisbane's leaders to steer them home.

"They all made plays. Lamar Patterson made plays, Mika made a left-hand hook that I haven't seen in years," Breakers coach Kevin Braswell said.

"I thought Mika was tough today."