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Jarrell Brantley Inspired By Breakers' Past

9 days ago

4 mins read

There was no better time – or opposition – for the Sky Spoprt Breakers to snap their four-game losing streak. In front of a monster away crowd at Qudos Bank Arena the Breakers dispatched the Sydney Kings in a genuine playoff atmosphere.

It took a banked Jarrell Brantley three in the final minute to break the hearts of the Kings’ faithful, and it was Brantley and Will McDowell-White who played chief destroyers for the Breakers on the night.

The way New Zealand has been grinding out wins this season has been reminiscent of that great Breakers side that won three straight championships in the 2010’s. Brantley says the current crop of players is taking inspiration from that all-time great side.

“A whole country is on our back, and this team has won a lot of chips,” Brantley said post-game. “The guys before us did it so I think it’s our job to continue to do so … I think [playing hard] stands for what New Zealand is, and I think we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t do that for New Zealand.

“It’s tough, for sure … but at the same time we’re just doing what everybody before us did.”

“I’m very proud of the guys,” head coach Mody Maor added. “There’s a lot of stuff that’s stacked against us in this situation and they came out and played like men. Confident, tough, humble, but unphased and unscared of the big moment.

“Those are great signs.”

The Breakers had previously come under fire for starting games slowly in their now snapped losing run. In fact, New Zealand hadn’t won a first quarter in any of the four games it had lost.

They jumped out to a five-point quarter-time lead against Sydney despite missing key guard pair Barry Brown Jr and Izayah Le’Afa.

Will McDowell-White was on triple-double watch from the point guard position, while Rob Loe dropped 15 points in 15 minutes from the bench. Even development player Alex McNaught had a strong impact on the clash when he entered the game.

Brantley says those losses may end up being a blessing in disguise.

“I think in those losses we’ve been doing a lot of growing,” he said.

“We had to step up and guys have had an opportunity with Barry out. Coach has been leaning on me throughout the year and been putting a lot on my shoulders, and it’s been a blessing – and it’s the same with Will.

“I made the big shot but Will made multiple big shots down the stretch … we’re going to see a special Will to be honest with you.

“We had ‘Naughty’ come out, Dan (Fotu) hasn’t played a lot this year, Rob played big.

“You could say it’s a big shot but it’s a lot of possessions that got us there. It’s special to see these guys [contributing].

“Everybody played so big.”

With a number of NBA scouts in the building Next Star Rayan Rupert was also a strong contributor to the Breakers’ win.

Although his impact didn’t necessarily show up in the box score – he finished the game with just four points, two rebounds and two steals – he spent large parts of the clash defending high-end talents like Xavier Cooks and Justin Simon.

Since coming back from his broken wrist Rupert has continued his growth into a mature and steady player for New Zealand.

Maor was full of praise for the Next Star after yet another classy performance.

“This is the most in-tune, focused 18-year-old on planet earth,” he said of Rupert. “He cares about basketball, he cares about the Breakers, he cares about winning. The rest is just noise.

“I thought he was very, very solid tonight. He defended key matchups consistently, didn’t take one possession off, stayed aggressive, got to the paint. I’m very pleased.”

The Breakers currently sit third on the ladder and are breathing down the necks of the top two.

Their next clash comes against the Bullets on Thursday night.

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