SYDNEY Feb 26 2012
Shane Heal has enjoyed a first-up win as Sydney coach, with Townsville suffering two blows to their NBL finals prospects.
Heal, whose appointment for the remainder of the season was only announced last Friday was at the helm as the Kings (9-14), already out of playoff contention, notched their first win in six games.
They survived a final quarter fadeout to score a 71-69 home victory over Townsville.
A fairytale return looked unlikely for the former Boomers and Kings star as his side trailed 15-5 early on.
They rallied to lead 60-45 late in the third quarter but only just hung on after being outscored 22-11 in the final term.
It was another disappointing result for Townsville (13-11) who lost 81-70 away to ladder leader New Zealand (17-6) last Thursday
They entered the round in third spot, but their losses left them vulnerable to intra-state rivals Cairns and Gold Coast, who were in action later on Sunday.
Gold Coast won 94-86 at Wollongong (6-16) on Friday with Mark Worthington leading the way with 26 points.
The Breakers win over the Crocs ensured they held on to top spot ahead of their big clash with the Wildcats in Perth next Sunday.
Townsville slashed a 16 point second quarter deficit to two with just under three minutes remaining, but rising Breakers star Thomas Abercrombie pulled off big plays at both ends down the stretch.
He blocked a shot from Eddie Gill and then drained a three-pointer on the Breakers' next possession.
"His (Abercrombie's) ability to influence a game in multiple ways is pretty valuable for us," Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis told AAP.
Gary Wilkinson top scored for NZ, with 18 points in 24 minutes.
Perth kept up the chase for first place with a 90-79 away win over Adelaide (7-16) on Friday.
The 36ers cut Perth's 14-point final quarter lead to two, but Kevin Lisch scored seven of his team-high 23 down the stretch to steer the Wildcats home'
Adelaide centre Daniel Johnson scored 24 and notched 18 the following night in the 36ers 92-83 away win at Melbourne (10-14).
Chris Warren topscored with 26 for an Adelaide team which hit 14 three-pointers at a very impressive 58 per cent clip.
It was another disappointing loss for Melbourne, who have lost 13 of their last 18 games following a 5-1 start to the season.
"We haven't had one game since the start of the year when all the guys have fired together," Melbourne coach Trevor Gleeson told AAP.
"It's been one step forward two steps back."
Cairns (14-10) climbed above Townsville into the top four with a 83-78 away win over second-placed over Perth (16-8).
The Taipans trailed by 11 at halftime, but scored the first 15 points of the third quarter and led by six at the last change.
Perth regained the lead in the last term, but a 7-0 run secured victory for Cairns.
Alex Loughton notched 20 for the visitors and Lisch 21 for Perth.
Townsville slumped to fifth as Gold Coast (13-9) consolidated third place with a 85-72 home win over last-placed Wollongong (6-17).
The Blaze scored the last six points of the first half to lead 46-40 and never relinquished their advantage despite hitting just one out of ten three-point attempts.
Worthington topscored for the Blaze with 17.
Adrian Warren - AAP
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