Former NBA duo Zylan Cheatham and Anthony Lamb have offered a glimpse of what may come for the rest of the NBL season after leading the New Zealand Breakers to the 81-71 win over the Brisbane Bullets.
The Breakers have had a horror run with injury right throughout NBL24 on the back of playing in last season’s grand final, but things continued to come together on Wednesday night at Nissan Arena.
New Zealand were still without important forward Finn Delany, but welcomed back excitement machine Cheatem from a fractured leg that has kept him sidelined since October 26.
He returned to a Breakers team who had won their last two games against Cairns and Sydney. They were able to make it three straight having been in charge much of the evening to hand Brisbane a fourth straight defeat.
Rookie Bullets pair Josh Bannan and Rocco Zikarsky sparked the home team back into the contest midway through the fourth quarter, and they even grabbed the lead briefly.
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However, the Breakers finished the better and it was Lamb and Cheatham who took control.
With 99 NBA games between them, they showed their class in their first game together with Lamb continuing his impressive form on his way to 18 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Cheatham provided the X-factor and when Zikarsky left the floor for Brisbane denying them a shot blocking threat, Cheatham took control with a string of strong finishes at the rim.
He scored eight of his 11 points for the game down the stretch with New Zealand going on a 12-0 run late to improve to 7-9 to close in on sixth spot.
Next Star Mantas Rubstavicius continued to impress too with the Lithuanian delivering 15 points with three triples.
The Bullets slip to 7-11 with the fourth straight loss but will welcome three-time NBL champion Casey Prather into the line-up on Saturday at home to South East Melbourne.
Brisbane could again be without Shannon Scott with the import point guard reinjuring a hamstring while captain Nathan Sobey top-scored with 17 points.
Bannan had 14 points and seven rebounds with Zikarsky having a career-best seven points with another two blocks.