Cedric Jackson has led the New Zealand Breakers to an 80-77 comeback win over a valiant Cairns Taipans outfit in one of the game of the season in Auckland.
The two-time defending champions trailed for the majority of the contest but managed to squeak home on the back of two big late buckets from Jackson, their star point guard and leading MVP candidate.
It was the 14th straight win for the Breakers and leaves them just one win away from securing the minor premiership for the third straight year.
Jackson was huge for the home side in the second half as he scored 16 of his 17 points, while Alex Pledger celebrated his 100th game for the franchise in style with a season-high 20 points.
The Taipans had been in control for the majority of the game thanks in part to their superior shooting from deep, but were unable to sink the big one as Cameron Gliddon's game-tying three-point attempt on the buzzer was off.
Gliddon (4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Jamar Wilson led the visitors with 15 points, while Alex Loughton chimed in with 12.
The Taipans had a disrupted preparation when an incident on Auckland's motorway held up their arrival to the arena and delayed tip-off, and it was the Breakers who came out of the blocks quickly to register an early seven-point lead.
However the Taipans bit back as Shane Edwards sparked an 11-1 run to have them ahead 20-17 after the first quarter.
The visitors kicked on to extend their advantage to seven points early in the second before the Breakers made a run of their own with Corey Webster draining a three to tie the scores.
Both teams struggled from the floor late in the quarter with neither team landing a field goal in the final three minutes of the half and the Taipans headed into the dressing rooms clinging to a 39-36 advantage.
The Taipans looked to pull away in the third as they lit it up from beyond the arc with five three pointers. However Jackson sprung into action after a quiet first half, dropping 12 points in the quarter to keep the Breakers within four at the last break.
Cairns held onto their four-point lead for much of the final quarter until a lay-up from Jackson followed by a steal allowed the Breakers back into the game. Jackson then hit a floater to put them in front by one.
Tom Abercrombie pulled down a big rebound late in the piece and was fouled allowing him to put the Breakers three clear with his free throws.
New Zealand Breakers 80 (Pledger 20, Jackson 17, Vukona 15)
Cairns Taipans 77 (Wilson 15, Gliddon 15, Loughton 12)
Crowd: 4000 at North Shore Events Centre, Auckland