Red hot Breakers defeat Phoenix in NBL

The New Zealand Breakers have brought an emotional week to a close by defeating South East Melbourne 97-92, extending their NBL winning streak to five games.

The Breakers overcame the loss of import Sek Henry to a calf injury to record their fourth road victory in a row, ending a difficult week after the death of manager Fata Letoa.

"It's been a hell of a week back home obviously with the passing of our manager," veteran forward Tom Abercrombie told NBL Media after the match.

"It's an emotional time for the team so, to come out there and get one for him tonight, was really special."

The Phoenix were hoping for a crucial win in the first NBL game to be played at Melbourne's State Basketball Centre on Sunday to keep pace with the logjam of teams fighting for a playoff spot.

Phoenix guard John Roberson led all scorers with 31 points, including six three-pointers, but it was not enough as Abercrombie (24 points), Scotty Hopson (19) and Finn Delany (18) guided New Zealand to victory.

The Breakers held a narrow one-point lead after a high-scoring first half, with both teams shooting above 50 per cent while committing a mere three turnovers combined.

Roberson exploded for 13 points in the third quarter but the visitors kept pace before holding their nerve in a tense final quarter, Delany drilling a clutch three-pointer with 16 seconds on the clock to close out the win.

Roberson was supported by the tireless Dane Pineau under the basket (17 points and 19 rebounds), while Tai Wesley also completed a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds).

South East Melbourne coach Simon Mitchell expressed disappointment at some costly mental errors in the closing minutes as the Phoenix's win-loss record dropped to 8-11.

"It felt like during the course of the game, we never really got a lot of flow on or momentum offensively," Mitchell said.

NBL Next Star recruit RJ Hampton added 11 points in his return for the Breakers after a month-long absence with a hip injury.

Hopson and Abercrombie sparked the visitors to an 8-2 start as they held the lead throughout the first quarter despite the loss of Henry.

Abercrombie led all scorers with 10 points for the Breakers to close the term ahead 27-24, although their lead would have been much greater if not for a late six-point contribution from Mitch Creek.

New Zealand charged out of the blocks in the second quarter to extend their advantage to nine, but a Roberson triple fuelled a 9-0 run to tie the score at 35-35.

Hopson and Roberson traded baskets as the points kept flowing, before Wesley sank a floater on the halftime buzzer to cut New Zealand's lead to 56-55 at the main break.

Neither team could find the basket through the opening two minutes of the third quarter, but the Phoenix eventually made their move, Roberson sinking a pair of three-pointers as the home side moved ahead by four.

But Abercrombie continued his strong play and Brandon Ashley completed a lay-up for an 81-79 advantage heading into the final quarter.