Red-hot Phoenix keep rolling in NBL

·2-min read

South East Melbourne Phoenix have maintained their status as one of the hottest teams in the NBL with a 92-85 victory over New Zealand Breakers.

The Phoenix gave up a 17-point lead before outplaying the Breakers in the final quarter of Sunday's clash at John Cain Arena to earn a sixth win from their last seven games.

The win puts them two games clear of Sydney and Illawarra in third spot on the ladder, behind leaders Perth and Melbourne United.

Fresh off equalling a franchise record for rebounds in a game with 20 in the Breakers overtime victory over Brisbane, import Colton Iverson scored 26 points and pulled down 22 rebounds - the most by any player in the NBL's 40-minute era - to keep the Breakers in the contest.

But the Phoenix kept their cool to outscore the Breakers 25-16 in the pivotal final quarter, Mitch Creek scoring 11 of his team-high 24 points.

Creek had been stood down from basketball activities on March 15 after being charged with assault but was given permission to resume playing this week by the NBL after his preliminary hearing was delayed.

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell feels his side can continue to raise their level of play despite missing injured stars Keifer Sykes and Dane Pineau.

"We don't kid ourselves for a second thinking that we are anywhere near championship level. Do we have the ability and talent to contend for that? Maybe, we'll see," Mitchell said.

"I feel like there are still levels this team can go to, even with people being out, but it's just that we are not there yet."

South East Melbourne saw their 46-40 halftime lead disappear as Tai Webster chimed in with 10 third-quarter points to hand the Breakers a two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But Creek stepped up in the final stanza and with Webster forced out of the game's final minutes through injury, the Breakers fell short despite centre Iverson's best efforts.

"His ability to make ball-guards open and willingness to do all the little things is second to none," Breakers coach Dan Shamir said about Iverson.

"It was another great day for him and hopefully we will translate that to wins."