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Breakers-Hawks shatter viewing record

NEARLY two million viewers internationally tuned in last night via Facebook to see RJ Hampton's NZ Breakers smash LaMelo Ball's Illawarra Hawks 103-72 in their highly-anticipated first NBL clash, 8,338 also in attendance at Auckland's Spark Arena.

As predicted, it became the most watched game in NBL history, two of the leading 2020 NBA draft options attracting 1.9 million views, smashing the one million views for Ball's NBL debut against Brisbane on October 6.

According to the NBL today, an estimated five million views of highlights from the game were shared on social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and YouTube by pages including SportsCenter, Bleacher Report, Ballislife, Overtime and House of Highlights.

Both Hampton and Ball, along with Sydney's Didi Louzada, are part of the NBL's Next Stars program which offers high school stars expected to be coveted at the NBA draft, a professional alternative to a year of college basketball.

Ahead 30-18 at quarter-time against the largely defenceless Hawks, New Zealand had that out to 54-37 by halftime and were never threatened.

Hampton, defending Ball, had the game off to a flyer when he rejected his shot, bringing the crowd decibel level to a new high.

The Breakers' performance, with Sek Henry scoring a game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 5-of-9 threes, also saw Scotty Hopson score 17 on 7-of-12 shooting, plus 3-of-4 triples and 10 rebounds.

Thomas Abercrombie scored 15 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and 4-of-4 from the stripe as the Breakers broke the tonne at a 53 percent clip.

Hampton played 26 minutes for eight points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks in a fine performance.

As the Hawks failed to do in their previous game against Adelaide, they never led at any stage and trailed by as many as 37 points, Corey Webster sending NZ off to a sweet start.

Illawarra's NBA import Aaron Brooks made the most of his chances for 19 points and Ball came out of the match with 10 points (on 3-of-14), seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.

He also threw down a huge putback dunk for good measure.

“Despite the time difference, there were almost two million views of the Facebook live stream, bringing an enormous global audience to the NBL," NBL owner Larry Kestelman said.

“Fans were also watching on Twitch and consuming highlights on global social media platforms.”

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 103 (Henry 21, Hopson, Webster 17, Abercrombie 16; Hopson 10 rebs; Webster 6 assts) d ILLAWARRA HAWKS 72 (Brooks 19, Andersen 11, Ball 10; Ogilvy 8 rebs; Ball 4 assts) at The Breakwater, Spark Arena.

Oct 25

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