MK Breakers closed out their 2023 in impressive fashion as they overcame Richmond Knights 87-78 on Saturday afternoon before reaching the Semi-Final of the National Cup the next evening with a 94-89 victory over Worthing Thunder. 

The Breakers have now reached the Final Four of the National Cup in successive years and alongside Derby Trailblazers are the only team to reach the stage in back-to-back years.

The Breakers weekend started with a trip to Richmond Knights, in which they had to show a different side to their game. After a 12-2 start the Breakers were guilty of taking their foot off the gas and allowing Richmond back into the game. Billy Beddow’s side were forced to grind out the win in a physical encounter. 

The Breakers ran out 87-78 winners over Richmond Knights with Jordan Spencer (20), Blayne Freckleton (19) and Chris Tawiah (12) topping the scoring charts for the Breakers. New signing Nate Robinson added 10 points on his debut.

Attention then turned to Sunday’s huge National Cup clash with Worthing Thunder who play their Basketball in NBL Division 1. The two sides traded blows in the opening stages of the game, but importantly for the Breakers the likes of Mike New Jr, Dane Langley, Jordan Spencer and Chris Tawiah all found their scoring groove early on. Those in attendance were treated to some high level basketball with both sides scoring freely and little separating the teams in the opening stages. It would be the hosts who won the first battle as they closed out the first quarter with a 23-22 lead.

The Breakers, however, were determined to not let their opposition creep out of range as Tawiah, Mike New Jr and Jordan Spencer scored points at crucial moments to keep Worthing within their reach. Thunder did extend their lead to five points, but an impressive three point effort from Dante Langley and a Chris Tawiah lay up pulled the Breakers back level.

Nate Robinson, Luke Gregory and Buai Luak ensured the Breakers showcased their strength in depth as the trio all added to the scoreline in the closing stages of the second quarter. As the half-time break drew closer the Breakers took the lead with just seconds remaining – Thunder, however, drew level to take a 51-50 lead into the break.

The Breakers seemed to have started the third quarter strongest as Dante Langley and Chris Tawiah helped the Breakers lead by three points. Worthing, however, drew back level and then took the lead to continue the constant changing of the lead. As was the story of the cup tie, it was the Breakers turn to lead – this time the combination of Gregory and Spencer helping Beddow’s side regain the advantage.

Thunder hit right back and swung the momentum back into their favour and with 50 seconds left on the clock they led by nine points – the biggest lead of the encounter so far. Dante Langley’s ‘and one’ in the final moments ensured the Thunder led by just six heading into the final quarter with the scoreboard reading 76-70 in favour of Worthing.

The Breakers knew what they had to do and if they wanted to advance into the Semi-Finals of the National Cup they would need to overcome a 6 point deficit. Langley wasted no time in ensuring the Breakers started strong as his four points in quick succession gave the Breakers a real chance of doing so. 

The hosts, however, hit from the three point range to give themselves breathing room and a five point advantage. Nate Robinson’s two successful free throws, shortly followed by Dante Langley’s three pointer drew the Breakers back level, but the Thunder struck back with a successful three pointer of their own seconds later.

Tawiah made a jump-hook to trim the lead to 1 point at 82-81, before Freckleton drew a foul on the following possession, converting both free throws to put the visitors in front. Following another stop it would be Freckelton again who stepped up, hitting a deep 3-pointer and drawing a foul in the process. Freckelton would convert the 4-point play to give the Breakers a 5 point lead at 82-87 with 3:49 left in the game.

A Daniel Johnson-Thompson lay up with 59 seconds to play brought the hosts to within one score at 89-91. The Breakers came up empty on the following possession, but captain Jordan Spencer stepped up on the defensive end, stealing the ball from Zaire Taylor with 18 seconds to go, forcing Thunder to foul to stop the clock. Spencer would make 1 from 2 at the line to put the Breakers up 89-92. 

A strong defensive stand from the Breakers forced a heavily contested 3-point shot from Zaire Taylor which came up short. Luke Gregory would haul in the rebound and find new signing Nate Robinson who would draw the foul and calmly sink two free throws to seal the game and ensure the Breakers ran out 94-89 winners.

Dante Langley led the scoring for the Breakers with 23 points and 8 rebounds on 10/15 shooting. Jordan Spencer would contribute 17 points and 15 assists with Chris Tawiah adding 16 points on 8/9 shooting.

The win sets up an away Semi-Final tie with NBL Division 1 outfit Derby Trailblazers who currently sit second in the table and are tipped to win the league this season. The game will take place on Sunday 7th January at 5:30pm in Derby. Tickets and travel can be booked here.

*We have been allocated 50 tickets for the game. The game will sell out and Derby do not sell tickets online, so book now to avoid disappointment.