A monumental performance from Breakers big man Colton Iverson was not enough to stop the South East Melbourne Phoenix from escaping with a 92-85 victory in Melbourne last night.
Iverson posted 26 points and a 40-minute NBL record 22 rebounds, as the Breakers overcame a heavy early deficit to nearly earn a remarkable victory.
Breakers coach Dan Shamir was delighted to get what he did out of Iverson on the night, but wanted to see better execution overall.
"I'm happy that he gets those numbers and gets the recognition for how great he is. He can be even better for us," Shamir said.
"Colton's great advantage is making ball guards better. Obviously his presence is big... but his ability to get ball guards open and do the little things, ball screens, is second to none."
The game had gone nearly four minutes before either team had missed a shot, when Finn Delany watched a floater go astray.
The Phoenix made their first seven shots, which helped them to a 20-11 lead midway through the first quarter. It was 29-17 at quarter-time.
Despite the Phoenix’s hot shooting, Iverson kept the Breakers in touch, somehow only going into the main break with a six-point deficit (46-40).
Halfway through the third quarter, as New Zealand’s shooting stroke improved to complement Iverson’s productivity, the Breakers inexplicably hit the lead – erasing a game-high 17-point deficit – at 60-59.
Corey Webster continued to work his way into the game after a slow start, on his way to 11 points and four assists in his first game returning from a knee injury.
As did his brother Tai Webster, who finished with 16 points and seven assists.
Along with those aforementioned boards, Iverson would also finish the game-high scorer with 26 points.
The Breakers enjoyed a 69-67 three quarter-time lead.
Still, it wasn’t enough as South East Melbourne proved to have another charge in them. In particular, it was the veterans who came to the fore for the Phoenix late.
The Breakers fell to 5-12 for the season and have a tough matchup against title-favourites Melbourne United on Saturday.