Breakers set for a torrid time
BASKETBALL: Title-hungry Cairns Taipans fans are set to give New Zealand a torrid north Queensland welcome in tonight's opening game of the best-of-three NBL grand final series.
Both sides swept their semi-finals, with the Breakers ending Adelaide's hot 10-0 streak and Cairns eliminating defending champion Perth by a similar 2-0 margin.
Cairns fans snapped up all the tickets to tonight's game in 90 minutes when they went on sale earlier this week, an indication they are expecting the Taipans to go 1-0 up in the series and take a step closer to an historic first national title for the city.
The Breakers are shooting for a fourth title in the past five seasons, and coach Dean Vickerman said the players would know what to expect.
"This is a reward for all the hard work that everyone's done this year, it's finally paid off and we're in another grand final," he said.
"We know what is waiting for us and we will deal with it."
Kiwi captain Mika Vukona will make a record 20th playoff appearance for the Breakers in the match, and showed against Adelaide last weekend he had lost none of his renowned passion or intensity.
"I had to step up - I had to show something," he said of his efforts against the 36ers. "I love this time of year, like everyone else in the team, and it's not hard to get up for an occasion like this."
The Taipans will again look to American import Scottie Wilbekin, who finished fourth in MVP voting behind Townsville power forward Brian Conklin, to lead the way. Wilbekin averaged a team-high 19.5 points in the semi-finals against the Wildcats.