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Breakers slump to third loss

Published: 6:23AM Sunday September 11, 2005 Source: AAP

American import Jermaine Blackburn came out smoking as the West Sydney Razorbacks burned off the NZ Breakers 124-104 in their NBL clash at the Sydney Olympic Sports Centre.

Blackburn followed his opening round 23 points against Townsville last week with a match-high 33 which destroyed the Breakers.

The livewire 24-year-old guard from Boise University in Idaho opened the scoring and had posted 22 to lead the Razorbacks to a 67-43 halftime advantage.

West Sydney turned around last week's loss to the Crocodiles and picked up on their poor free-throw shooting to maintain pressure throughout the match.

Forward Cam Rigby, playing his 100th NBL match added to the Breakers' misery when he sank three long-range bombs early in the second half.

The combination of Blackburn, James Harvey (30), Rigby (15) and Scott McGregor (15) dominated the scoring and led at times to heated exchanges as the game became physical.

Canadian guard Aaron Olson tried to spark a revival for New Zealand to finish with 26 points, adding 19 in the second half.

"We played a full 48 minutes tonight compared with last week and it was pleasing to have contributions from everyone. They outscored us in the final quarter by one point but that came from a little fatigue," said West Sydney coach Mark Watkins.

Blackburn said he hadn't settled down yet but he was having fun.

"I made a couple of big plays and there's more improvement to come," he said.

New Zealand coach Andrej Lemanis blamed the first-half effort as the major cause of his loss.

"West Sydney came out full of intensity and we were made to pay.

"We have to minimise turnovers and try to secure the 50-50 balls," he said.

A string of 33 turnovers and poor shooting (37 from 83) forced the Breakers into playing a catch-up game as the Razorbacks never lost their opening lead.

Blackburn had an explosive first step which constantly caught the Breakers flatfooted and enabled him either to score or lay off the ball to one of his better positioned teammates.

West Sydney scored 38 points off turnovers and were far more accurate in shooting, converting 45 out of 84 shots.