Will McDowell-White's steely resolve sparks Breakers to series-levelling win -- and Game 5

Entering the fourth quarter of Game 4, Will McDowell-White was 3-for-11 from long range in the NBL Championship series. Across the entire season, he had connected on just 29.2% of his long range tries.

Yet, when it looked like the New Zealand Breakers were wobbling towards a season-ending home loss to the Sydney Kings, it was McDowell-White who took the responsibility to settle the nerves.

"Will's special man. In my opinion, he's the best point guard in the league," Breakers forward Jarrell Brantley told ESPN postgame.

At one point leading by 15 points, the Breakers offence continued to sputter as they clung to a 54-52 edge entering the final frame.

"Get back to what we do," McDowell-White said postgame. "All year we've prided ourselves on staying together and being a team. Our season was on the line, so we just didn't want to give up at home.

"We didn't want to be too desperate where we play out of control. Just trying to find the balance in the middle there to execute. This team is all about getting the shots that we want. If we do that, we're usually pretty fine."

For the Breakers, that meant putting the ball in the 24-year-old point guard's hands.

Uncharacteristically rushed at times over the previous two outings by Kings stopper Justin Simon, McDowell-White looked in control all night. Despite the shooting struggles at times through the season, the star guard took responsibility and settled the nerves by knocking down two huge triples to start the fourth quarter.

As the series heads to a fifth and final game, the numbers don't lie. In the two wins, McDowell-White is averaging 19 points, seven assists and one turnover. In the two losses, he's averaging nine points, three assists and five turnovers.

In the two wins, he is 10-for-12 from 2-point range, capitalising on the floater that is always available going downhill. In the two losses, he's 5-for-10.

As of tonight, if the Breakers are to win Game 5, it would be McDowell-White in the box seat to win the Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award, though you wouldn't know it given his stoic appearance.

Given the laid-back nature of the guard, it made sense he was present at the postgame media conference alongside his head coach, who is notorious for quelling the emotion immediately following, at least publicly anyway.

There was a smile or two, but no over the top celebration from either, there never is. The steely resolve was exactly what the Breakers needed in front of a record crowd of 9,742 at Spark Arena in Auckland that was deafening throughout the game.

"We competed. Every second we were on the floor. Sydney is an incredible team. If you lose focus for just a little bit, they go on a run," Breakers head coach Mody Maor said.

"We stayed with it; we kept competing. Even when shots didn't fall, even when the whistle didn't blow, we made mistakes, we kept competing."

As for Maor's thoughts on the crowd?

"I really don't want to answer any big picture questions about anything that's not the game because all I want is my team to be focused for Game 5," Maor responded when asked about the atmosphere in the building.

"But for Breaker nation, this was our last home game no matter the result. It was one of our biggest goals to put a team on the floor that the fans of New Zealand feel represents themselves the right way, something that they feel connected to. I'm told that this the most people to ever come to an indoor sporting event in New Zealand.

"I'm humbled and grateful. We're going to keep doing whatever we can to represent them the right way."

While Brantley was quick to praise McDowell-White, he too played a major part in the win, leading the team with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the floor.

"When Jarell Brantley is aggressive, we're good," Maor declared.

"In Game 3 it was a two point game before Jarrell fouled out. When he fouled out, our offence stopped clicking which led to our defence not clicking. Jarell, in his spots, played exactly the way I want him to play. We need his interior presence; we need him to be on the attack. He's been that kind of guy for us all year."

The big offensive performance from Brantley was coupled with the continued task of attempting to slow down league MVP Xavier Cooks, who has been battling a number of ailments throughout the series.

Brantley immediately smiled when asked about the matchup.

"Cooks is tough," he said. "He just signed an NBA deal. I've been watching his career from afar for a while so it's just dope to be on court with guys like that who love to play. Any time you get to match with guys like that you have to embrace it."

The answer from Brantley is emblematic of the Breakers attitude through the series and indeed the season. They simply refuse to back down from the fight. In fact, they appear to thrive on it.

"We're built to last. We're a team that rarely folds this year," McDowell-White said postgame.

What will be required in Game 5?

"This effort and a lot more. They are the defending champs, they've been there before. We are a pretty young group, but we're fearless, so we're ready to go."

Evidence suggests another primetime performance from McDowell-White will also be a catalyst.