Melbourne United are closing in on the NBL minor premiership after claiming a dramatic 89-83 win over the New Zealand Breakers.
The top-of-the-table clash was played at playoff intensity with 13 lead changes, but the home side closed the match with 14 unanswered points to win their fifth straight game and 12 of their last 13 starts.
United retain top spot on the NBL ladder and can wrap up the minor premiership with victory in New Zealand on Sunday.
The point guard battle between Melbourne's Casper Ware and New Zealand's Edgar Sosa was a major highlight with Ware (26 points, five assists) instrumental in bringing United back from a 14-point deficit in the first half.
Tai Wesley scored 19 points and Josh Boone added 15 points and 12 rebounds while high-flying import Carrick Felix thrilled the crowd with a number of athletic plays in his 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Sosa lit up United for 16 first-quarter points but got into foul trouble in the second quarter before finishing with 22 points while Rob Loe, DJ Newbill and Rakeem Christmas each scored 11 points.
Momentum swung Melbourne's way in the second quarter when Sosa was called for an offensive foul on Ware, sparking a terse exchange between the pair, before picking up a third foul to sit out the rest of the half.
Ware's free throws and a triple from Wesley put United within reach before Felix brought the crowd to its feet with a spectacular fast-break dunk over Tom Abercrombie to cut the margin to one point.
But Abercrombie had the final say of the first half with his three-pointer handing New Zealand a 54-50 edge at the main break.
The visitors opened the second half strong but with Chris Goulding finding his range and Felix denying Finn Delany at the rim with a huge block, Ware nailed a triple to hand United their first lead at 64-61.
Sosa's sixth triple of the night tied the score at 71 to close out the third quarter and the Breakers jumped out to an eight-point lead in the final term before going scoreless in the final six minutes.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman praised their ability to fight back from an early deficit but said he wanted them to play more from in front.
"I think we have shown that enough this year - I want us to be the opposite," he said.
"I want us to take a lead and then really start to make consistent plays ... rather than getting behind so that's something we've got to work on."
New Zealand coach Paul Henare was disappointed with the decisive final minutes as his troops' offence dried up.
"It's something we have tried to be better at," he said.
"I thought we settled too much for tough jumpers rather than getting on the front foot."
Australian Associated Press