Breakers Head Coach Dean Vickerman and his two imports, Darnell Lazare and Kerron Johnson will be approaching this week’s pre season games against Melbourne Tigers with a mixture of excitement, nervousness and apprehension. All three will want to make an early impression and demonstrate that they are the right people to lead the club in it’s quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive NBL title.
Also wanting to make an impression will be the Development players, none of whom have donned a Breakers singlet in a competitive game.
Duane Bailey and Jack Salt are both sure to be required as the team is a little light on frontcourt resources right now. Salt will only play the Tuesday night game in Christchurch as he has scholastic duties in the second half of the week. He will provide cover for Jeremiah Trueman who is away on paternity leave but due to rejoin the team in Wellington on Thursday. Power forward Bailey will suit up for both games in order to lighten the load on Lazare and Mika Vukona. Both these players will need to spend some time at centre as Alex Pledger’s involvement may be restricted having rolled an ankle in training last week.
The Breakers have a full compliment of guards fit and firing therefore Alonzo Burton’s minutes may be limited. Nevertheless the coaching staff will be keen to provide the young Hawkes Bay guard some opportunities to show his potential at this level.
Unfortunately, the fourth Development player, Luuk Witteveen will be forced to watch from the sideline. Witteveen is restricted to conditioning work for a couple more weeks as he recovers from a fractured wrist.
These four will have limited opportunities to play once the regular season gets under way, therefore they and the coaching staff,will be keen to see what they can do against the Tigers and also in the three games against Chinese club side Dongguan Leopards later this month.
Biographies of Development Players:
A Breakers Academy player back in 2008 when he also played for the Junior Tall Blacks, Duane has played the last three years in the NZNBL. This year he was a key member of the Super City Rangers team averaging 11 points and 8 rebounds per game. In 2012 he played for the championship winning Auckland Pirates. Bailey will provide valuable back up in the power forward position for Mika Vukona and Darnell Lazare.
Born in London, Jack moved to New Zealand with his family just prior to his 5th birthday. A graduate of the local Harbour Basketball Association and captain of the Westlake Boys High School premier basketball team Jack has shot to prominence in the last twelve months. Still only 17 years old, in 2013 he has played for New Zealand Under 20’s, the Super City Rangers in the NZNBL and the Tall Blacks. The 6’10” centre averaged 8.6 ppg and 5.4 rebounds in his rookie season with the Rangers and also impressed with his mature displays for the national team.
Son of NZNBL great Willie Burton, 20-year-old Alonzo has played for Hawkes Bay in the NZNBL for the past two seasons. He averaged 5 points a game for the Hawks in 2013 shooting a respectable 36.5% from beyond the three-point arc. A New Zealand age group representative, Alonzo is named after his father’s childhood friend Alonzo Holmes. He will contest the two and three spots providing cover to the contracted players.
Luuk is Dutch born and moved to New Zealand with his family when he was 10 years old. He is another player to have progressed through the Harbour Basketball age group programme. In his final year at Rangitoto College, Witteveen has been on the SKY CITY Breakers radar for a number of seasons and an Academy player for the past two years. He also played for the Judd Flavell coached NZ Under 18 Men in 2013.