The New Zealand Breakers have registered back-to-back wins in the NBL Cup after holding on to defeat Brisbane Bullets 97-92.
The Breakers shot out to a 20-point lead at Melbourne's State Basketball Centre on Wednesday then withstood a fierce Brisbane comeback to complete their third victory of the season.
New Zealand came out firing against the Bullets, picking up where they left off from last Saturday's 44-point thrashing of Adelaide with a 22-0 run in the first quarter to heap on the early pressure.
Brisbane tightened up on defence to claw their way back into the match but every time they moved within striking distance of the lead, the Breakers always found a way to hold off the challenge.
Coach Dan Shamir labelled the win as being very important for his squad's development, particularly with the unusual nature of the see-sawing battle.
"Today we again started well and knew that it was going to get tougher, that we were going to have some tough moments and that the Bullets will respond," Shamir said.
"We knew we were going to have to play through some mistakes and it was good that we did that."
Corey Webster (21 points, seven rebounds) and Tai Webster (19 points, nine rebounds) were at the forefront of New Zealand's victory while Danish guard Rasmus Bach stepped up at critical moments to finish with 16 points.
After Vic Law scored on the opening possession, Brisbane's offence turned ugly as they missed their next 11 shots while Tai Webster and Colton Iverson triggered the Breakers' 22-2 surge.
Harry Froling finally ended Brisbane's scoring drought but New Zealand's 27-12 advantage after one quarter proved costly with coach Andrej Lemanis lamenting his side's mindset in the initial stages.
"New Zealand in the last three games have come out and dominated teams in the first five or six minutes and it's something we didn't do a good job of countering tonight," Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis said after his side's poor start.
"After that we slowly worked our way back in the game but that's not good enough because we didn't win."
Brisbane cut the margin to four points in the second period but Corey Webster countered with seven straight Breakers points and a three-pointer from Rasmus beat the buzzer for a 47-35 halftime advantage.
New Zealand's lead increased to 15 when Tom Abercrombie landed a triple to open the second half but Vic Law poured in 13 of his team-high 19 points to see Brisbane win the third quarter 31-24 and trail by five heading into the final stanza.
But the Bullets ultimately fell short despite closing the gap to three in the final minute, Abercrombie securing a crucial offensive rebound before Rasmus sealed the result from the free-throw line.
Australian Associated Press