Years ago

match report from nbl.com.au by Steve Barrett

First time I've ever seen the word "amped" used in a match report!!!


Sixers overpower Breakers
Sat, 07 Feb 2009 10:09 PM
By Steve Barrett, Sportal

Riding a powerful wave of emotion, sentiment and nostalgia, the Adelaide 36ers have celebrated retiring captain Brett Maher's final regular season fixture at the Distinctive Domes Home with a 102-91 victory over the New Zealand Breakers on Saturday.

Any danger of the Sixers being too amped or overly Maher-conscious were emphatically quashed early, the hosts reaping successive 37-28 and 21-13 quarters en route to a healthy 58-41 half-time buffer which, given the occasion, was always going to be difficult for the Breakers to retrieve, despite their feisty second half efforts.

Breakers forward and ex-Sixer Oscar Forman led all scorers with 26 points, while for the victors, Adam Ballinger (19 points, 10 boards), Luke Schenscher (17 points) and Maher (17) led the way.

But the night truly belonged to Maher.

The sell-out crowd afforded the triple-championship skipper a prolonged and deserved two-minute pre-game standing ovation after he ran onto the court, hand-in-hand with daughter Cheyenne through a club organised guard of honour.

Forming the guard was a decorated congregation of past Adelaide players and coaches, including the likes of Phil Smyth, Al Green, Dwayne Nelson, Mike McKay, Peter Ali, Ray Wood, David Spear, Graham Kubank, Rupert Sapwell, Paul Rees, Darren Ng, Brett Wheeler, Steve Breheny and Don Shipway.

36ers owner Mal Hemmerling took the microphone and acknowledged the greatest player in franchise history by declaring the Dome hardwood officially henceforth be named 'The Brett Maher Court' in honour of the triple Olympian.

After Forman, Rod Grizzard and CJ Bruton exchanged triples early, the 36ers uncorked a champagne 13-0 tear, which was inspired by the great Maher.

In the space of 49 seconds, the 521-game veteran dropped a trademark spot-up three, conjured a steal and fed an assist to Brad Davidson for a lay-up, before gathering a loose ball from a contested rebound and subsequently pulling up for his bread and butter 15-foot jumper, for what seemed the umpteenth time since his 1992 debut.

Grizzard nailed a pair of triples to make it 18-6 in favour of the home side, the Breakers calling for time with 7:38 remaining.

Adelaide's first quarter lead stretched out to 29-13 with 3:59 remaining, before NZ went on a Thomas Abercrombie-led 7-0 run late in the piece on the way to making it 37-28 at the first change, Adelaide's 14-of-19 effort from the floor including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in a free-wheeling opening salvo.

The defensive intensity lifted a cog or three in the second stanza, especially that of the home side, which restricted the Breakers to 13 points for the term at 33 per cent.

A 9-2 flurry across the last four minutes gave Adelaide a 17-point half-time advantage.

With Bruton alight early in the third with a pair of treys and Tony Ronaldson also dropping a triple  his first score of the night  NZ summoned an energetic second half revival.

The Breakers sliced the deficit to 10 points inside the first two minutes and later back to single digits, but Adelaide stuck firm and despite being outscored 19-25 for the term, held a 77-66 lead at the final break.

A powerful Schenscher two-handed jam and a coast-to-coast Paora Winitana effort inspired Adelaide early in the fourth quarter but NZ, largely through Forman (10 fourth quarter points), refused to yield.

A Jacob Holmes triple from the corner with 6:59 remaining was countered by a Bruton three-point bomb 32 seconds later, the scoreline 88-80.

With Adelaide in possession and the shot clock about to expire, Maher, ball in hand, let go a prayer from almost half-way which was all-net, the skipper's shot proving the game-breaker.

With 56.8 seconds remaining and the match now safely in the home side's hands with the Sixers up 102-88, Ninnis subbed Maher off, which was met by a further ovation as the 35-year-old left the Dome court  now named in his honour  for possibly the last time, pending the seemingly unlikely prospect of any home finals.

The win improves Adelaide's record to 15-14, while the Breakers  with this their seventh loss from their past eight starts  are now 16-12.

Adelaide 36ers 102 (Ballinger 19, Maher 17, Schenscher 17)
New Zealand Breakers 91 (Forman 26, Bruton 14, Jones 13)
@ The Distinctive Homes Dome, 7/2/2009. Crowd: Sold Out (7800).

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