South East Melbourne Phoenix have revived their NBL playoff chances after snapping a five-game losing streak with a crucial 86-75 victory over Tasmania JackJumpers to climb back into calculations for a berth in the league's Play-In Tournament.
An upset loss to ninth-placed Brisbane on Monday saw the Phoenix drop to seventh spot on the ladder but Simon Mitchell's men produced one of their best defensive efforts of the season at Launceston's Silverdome on Wednesday night to make a timely return to the winner's list.
The result not only allowed the Phoenix (13-12) to reclaim sixth spot from Melbourne United but sees Tasmania (13-11) drop to fifth as the race for post-season places continues to tighten up.
South East Melbourne played like a team fighting for their playoff lives, holding the dangerous JackJumpers offence to 32 points in the first half before fending off every challenge from the home side down the stretch.
After leading his side to victory with 23 points and 11 rebounds, captain Mitch Creek was pleased to see the Phoenix secure a tough road victory after a series of heavy losses away from home.
"To fight like that here - Tassie are so good, they're so deep, they're so disciplined, they're so good late in the shot clock.
"To (hold them to) 75 points ... I'm so proud right now," Creek told ESPN after playing a key role in the Phoenix victory with his fourth double-double of the season.
South East Melbourne's path to a top-six finish is a difficult one with home clashes against fourth-placed Perth and top-two aspirants Cairns followed by a trip to Sydney to face the top-ranked Kings.
"We know we've got to win every game. You drop five (games) in a row, it's going to put you in a bad spot but we've got a couple more games to go, two more at home with sold-out crowds," Creek said about the upcoming schedule.
"Looking forward to getting home in front of the Phoenix faithful and getting a couple of wins there hopefully."
Ryan Broekhoff connected twice from long distance in the opening minutes to hand South East Melbourne an ideal start and the defence took over to produce five JackJumpers turnovers to set up a 24-14 advantage.
Creek enjoyed a spirited back-and-forth with fellow former Adelaide 36er Jack McVeigh in the second period but it was the Phoenix winning the battle as they extended their lead to 46-32 at half-time thanks to a 30-19 rebounding edge that included 12 offensive boards.
Milton Doyle (16 points) and McVeigh (15) fought valiantly as Tasmania tried to mount a second-half fightback, but Creek's energy and composed offence from Gary Browne (15) and Alan Williams helped guide the Phoenix home.