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Buzzer-beater Dillard living the dream

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/01/2017 Angelo Risso

New Zealand Breakers point guard Kevin Dillard says his buzzer-beating winner against Brisbane Bullets was the stuff of dreams.

In just his third game for the Australian NBL club, the 27-year-old injury replacement drained a last-second fade-way jumper for his side to win 84-82.

It was the first time in the entire game that the Breakers led, having trailed by eight at the end of the third quarter.

Ravaged by injuries all season, the Breakers have found the 2016-17 ANBL campaign tough going yet sit in sixth place with six games remaining.

Dillard, who top-scored with 28 points in a clinical display, hoped the result would prove to be season-defining.

A run of victories in clashes against Illawarra, Perth and Cairns over the next 10 days could propel the side back into the ANBL play-off positions.

"That's what every basketballer dreams of, game clock running down, you've got the opportunity to win it for your team," Dillard said.

"It just shows the team you can win tough games on the road and that's big, hopefully that's a momentum boost for us."

The Illinoisan is the third man to run the Breakers point in 2016-17, with compatriots Ben Woodside and David Stockton crocked.

But an average of four assists and nearly 22 points per game suggests Dillard has embedded well into his new surroundings.

The well-travelled point, who has played across western Europe, the Baltics and Turkey, said a strong team culture was key.

"The transition in hasn't been hard at all," Dillard said.

"Communication has helped me, helped speed up the learning curve a little bit and now we're right where we need to be."

Head coach Paul Henare admitted the chopping and changing of troops at point guard, a key playmaking position, had disrupted the side.

But if his side had learned anything in the last three months, it was adjusting to disruptions and roster changes.

Woodside and Stockton have departed the club following their injuries, swingman Tom Abercrombie remains out and Corey Webster has endured fitness and legal issues.

Webster was placed on injury waiver in December, has undergone hip surgery and will return to court next month on three assault charges.

"The group of guys have been great throughout everything, they've stuck together and by one another," Henare said.

"I don't know how it happened but we found a way to hang around and make plays towards the end, and it's good to get across the line."

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