Breakers dash Crocs' dreams
THE Townsville Crocodiles' dreams of winning this year's NBL title came crashing down in Auckland on Saturday night.
After surprising the New Zealand team at home in the first game of their semi-final series, it was always going to be a tough ask for the Crocs to produce a repeat performance.
But the Townsville team, including Mackay's Todd Blanchfield, didn't go down without a fight.
The Crocs started the match in similar fashion to that victorious first game, enjoying an eight-point advantage during the opening quarter.
The shots were failing to fall for the Breakers, while Townsville was showing the same shooting form that gave it the series lead.
The Breakers fought back to lead 21-20 after the first quarter but the Crocs remained in the game. At half-time, they trailed by two.
Blanchfield was among Townsville's top scorers with 12 points, including a vital three during the third quarter, which reduced New Zealand's lead to just one point.
Their shot accuracy enabled the Crocs to hang with the Breakers for a while, before some dominating defence from Alex Pledger sparked the home team and the defending champions opened a double-digit lead.
The result means the Breakers meet the Perth Wildcats in the grand final. Perth, which finished second in the regular season behind the Breakers, defeated Gold Coast Blaze in the semis.
Breaker Tom Abercrombie faces an anxious wait to see if his sprained ankle recovers in time for the grand final series, which starts Thursday.
He was fouled by Peter Crawford with 90 seconds left in the game.
"I was angry because I thought that was it," Abercrombie said.
"I knew the game was over at that stage and I thought I was done for the finals and I was pretty disappointed and frustrated.
"I didn't think the foul was necessary but I don't hold any grudges."