Category Archives: ANBL

Breakers at the double

The Sky Sport Breakers have continued their winning ways with another impressive pair of victories in Round 8 of the Australian NBL.

The 116-79 home win against Brisbane takes the Breakers to 10-3 overall while the 82-71 victory in Cairns on Friday night was a sixth straight road win. That’s a record that has only been bettered on two occasions in the Breakers history.

The 116 points against Brisbane was the highest score posted by the Breakers since they put a colossal 130 on Illawarra Hawks back in February 2019. It was the highest score posted by any team in the NBL this season and also produced the largest winning margin. 

Their shooting percentages were the best of the season across all three major categories – 60% (44/73) from the field, 51% (17/33) from 3-point land and 84% (11/13) from the charity stripe.

It mattered little on the night but in a tighter contest the Breakers might have been a little bemused by the foul count. The home team were pinged on 29 occasions, the Bullets incurring the wrath of the officials just 14 times. Certainly Tom Abercrombie was not a happy chappie picking up four fouls in under ten minutes to spend almost the entire second half cheering on from the bench. 

There were no such issues in Cairns as the Breakers extended their run of away wins to six on the bounce. The current run of 6 consecutive away victories has only been bettered twice:

In 2008-09 the club enjoyed a 7 game winning streak on the road while the team of 2012-13 put together a run of 8 straight road wins – that was the championship winning season when they only lost 4 games all season.

Here are the key numbers from the two games:

Beat Cairns Taipans 82-71 (away) on Friday

Tom Abercrombie secured 8 rebounds – the most the Breakers swingman has pulled down in a single game since December 2019.

Derek Pardon recorded his third consecutive double-double (15 points and 11 rebounds) and his fourth in the last five games. The last player to produce three consecutive double-doubles for the Breakers was Shawn Long in February 2019.

Kiwi Sam Waardenburg, a former Rangitoto College and Harbour Basketball teammate of Dan Fotu, was outstanding for the Taipans. He finished with 15 points (5/6FG) 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and an assist. Yet to play for the Tall Blacks, after a fine career at the University of Miami, you imagine he is climbing up the pecking order on Pero Cameron’s Tall Blacks long list.

Beat Brisbane Bullets 116-79 at Spark Arena on Sunday

Jarrell Brantley and Izayah Le’afa posted season high points. Brantley was a beast in the low post accumulating 29 points on 13 from 19 shooting.

Le’afa scored all his 21 points in the first half on 7 from 10 shooting including 4 from 6 from deep. 

Cam Gliddon, with 3 rebounds, secured his 1,000th career rebound.

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Gliddon needs just 2 points for 3,000 career points. With 2,998 career points he sits 12th on the scoring list of active players which is headed by Adelaide 36ers forward Daniel Johnson with 5,971 points.

Tom Abercrombie (4,204 points) is third on the active players scoring list.

Izayah Le’afa needs 12 points for 600 career points and Tom Vodanovich a single point for 400 career points.

Tom Abercrombie, with I more steal will become the 4th Breaker to pinch 250 steals.

The Breakers top five “Stealers”:

288 Boucher

278 Jackson

252 Vukona

249 Abercrombie

209 Henare

Talking of steals Will McDowell-White needs to pinch 3 more possessions for 50 steals in Breakers colours. 

In addition WM-W is only 3 assists shy of becoming the 11th Breaker to dish 250 assists.

The Breakers are next in action on Thursday entertaining South East Melbourne Phoenix at Christchurch Arena – tip-off 7.30pm followed by a Saturday evening encounter with Perth Wildcats at Vector Arena.

Ili returns plus other news of Kiwis overseas

In our latest wrap we look at Shea Ili’s return to court, a career high for Sam Waardenburg and some early American college news.

Firstly Shea Ili. The dynamic point guard made his first appearance for Melbourne United after missing the opening four rounds of the Australian NBL season with concussion issues. The Tall Black guard made an immediate impact in helping guide Melbourne United, on a three-game slide, to a 94-77 home win against Perth Wildcats.

Ili scored with his first two shots, both threes, and went on to post 9 points (3/4FG), 4 assists and 3 rebounds in just 13 minutes of action. Corey Webster scored 8 points for the Wildcats.

Sam Waardenburg, in his rookie pro season, scored a season high 20 points as Cairns Taipans lost a points-fest at League leaders Sydney Kings 106-103. In a fine all-round game Waardenburg also posted 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a pair of steals. 

In Europe Tai Webster produced 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as Socar Petkimspor defeated Bursaspor 80-72 to improve to 3-2 in the Turkish Super League.

Finn Delany had a pair of 11-point outings for Bonn as the German club recorded two victories.

Firstly it was a 73-66 European Champions League win against AEK Athens followed by a 94-85 success against Goettingen in the German League.

In the German second division Matt Freeman scored 10 points and added 6 rebounds although his club Bremerhaven suffered a 73-66 loss to Tuebingen.

Isaac Fotu tallied a team high 17 points (8/13FG) but Tochigi Brex were given something of a hiding by Chiba Jets going down 87-58. The Jets (7-2) lead the East Conference of the Japanese League with Brex (3-6) now sixth.

Jillian Harmon, who played on the Tall Ferns 3×3 team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier in the year, has confirmed she has re-joined Basket Landes for the upcoming French League season.

Tera Reed scored 19 points (5/10FG, 4/4FT) but Tampereen Pyrintö were defeated 82-77 by HBA-Marsky in the Finnish League. Pyrintö have slipped to 2-4 on the season although all four losses have been by 6 points or less.

Most American college campaigns commence in the coming days but a handful of pre-season games have already been played.

Flynn Cameron started his season rolling on a high note as UC Riverside defeated Cal State Dominguez Hills 94-79. The combo guard scored 21 points (5 from 9 threes) and added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

Asian Cup Tall Black teammate Kruz Perrott-Hunt was also in strong form as South Dakota mauled Simpson 101-55. KP-H finished with a game high 24 points (10/15FG, 4/8 3PG) to accompany 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

James Moors led the Colorado State rebounding count as they inflicted a 91-52 defeat on MSU Denver. The junior forward added 6 points, 2 assists and a steal to 10 rebounds.

Fresh from the Tall Ferns tour to Melbourne Charlisse Leger-Walker filled the stats line with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and a brace of steals as Washington State defeated Westmont 64-40.

Breakers on a high despite Loe low.

NZ Breakers coach Mody Moar and Barry Brown Jr of the Breakers. New Zealand Breakers v Tasmania JackJumpers, Round 2 of the 2022-23 NBL Season at Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand on Friday 7 October 2022. © Mandatory credit: Andrew Cornaga / http://www.photosport.nz

The Sky Sport Breakers sit atop the NBL ladder alongside the Sydney Kings – who they face at Spark Arena next Sunday  – after demolishing the Tasmanian Jack Jumpers 94-62 at Spark Arena.

The win was achieved despite the loss of in-form big man Rob Loe who took a head knock in the opening quarter and didn’t return to the fray. 

Without his running mate, Derek Pardon stepped up posting his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds while Tom Vodanovich enjoyed extended minutes to record 10 points and 5 rebounds. Jarrell Brantley got the better of his opposite number Rashard Kelly in recording 11 points and 8 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Import combo-guard Barry Brown Jr was once again a major spark off the bench – his game high 24 points being his fourth 20+ points haul in just five appearances by the American.

The victory moves the Breakers to 6-2 on the season, already one win more than the club engineered in the whole of the 2021-22 season.

What made the most recent win even more meritorious was the fact that Tasmania had had a week to prepare for the game whereas the Breakers had spent all day Saturday travelling back from Adelaide via Sydney. 

On Friday, the Breakers were equally impressive as they recorded their biggest ever win in Adelaide thumping the much vaunted 36’ers 99-70; the Breakers fourth win from five away games. 

The 4-1 road start has only been bettered twice in Breakers history. In 2008-09, in the second season under the influence of Tony Ronaldson and Kirk Penney, the Breakers started the season with 7 wins in the first 8 away games while in the 2010-11 championship campaign it was a 6-1 start on Australian soil

Here are the latest club records and milestones:

Won 99-70 at Adelaide 36’ers on Friday night

Jarrell Brantley had season highs in points (22), rebounds (9), assists (3) and steals (4). He also became the first Breaker to score 100 points this season.

Izayah Le’afa , with 15 points, passed the 500 career points milestone in his 65th NBL game.

With a season high equalling 7 dimes Will McDowell-White moved past Finn Delany into 11th spot on the Breakers all-time assists list – he now has 231 to his name at 4.4 per game.

Won 94-62 v Tasmanian Jack Jumpers at Spark Arena on Sunday

Rob Loe played his 150th NBL game against the Jack Jumpers (28 of those with Cairns Taipans) while Tom Vodanovich played his 99th game in the League – 67 of those with the Sydney Kings.

With 24 points Barry Brown Jr became the second Breaker to pass the 100-point mark for the season.

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The Breakers have a mouth-watering home game against top Sydney Kings on Sunday before the NBL goes into recess for 11 days to accommodate the next FIBA window when both the Tall Blacks and Australian Boomers will play two World Cup Qualifying games apiece.

Will McDowell-White needs 8 more points to reach 400 points for the Breakers.

Cam Gliddon is closing in on a couple of notable milestones. He needs just 6 rebounds to total 1,000 career boards and 23 points to pass 3,000 career points spanning 11 seasons in the NBL.

Breakers overcome Cairns and the NBL schedulers

The Sky Sport Breakers celebrated their 600th NBL game with a 68-64 victory in Cairns on Sunday afternoon in the midst of a ridiculous schedule – more on that shortly.

Missing their opening 14 shots the Breakers scored just 5 points in the first quarter yet somehow recovered to force the win. Those handful of points equaled the Sydney Kings unwanted record of the least number of points in the opening period of an NBL game.

However, led by 24 points from Barry Brown Jr, the Breakers recovered to trail 32-23 at half-time and by just five (50-45) at three-quarter time before grinding out the win in the fourth to leap frog the Taipans into second place on the NBL ladder.

Given the Breakers were playing for the fourth time in 10 days, and a fourth away game in their opening six fixtures, a start of 4 wins and 2 losses probably exceeds expectations given also that the club only won 5 from 28 games in the whole of last season.

Now back to the schedule in which the NBL boffins certainly have done the Breakers no favours. Having played all 28 games in Australia last season and 29 of 36 across the ditch the season before you would have thought a little sympathy may have been forthcoming from those in charge of scheduling at NBL HQ.

Not a chance – instead, just three weeks into the season, the Breakers have already visited three Australian states, undertaken five international flights and a couple of domestic hops.

It doesn’t get any easier this week for Round 5. They return from Cairns today (Monday), fly to Adelaide on Thursday (for a game against the 36ers on Friday) then return on Saturday to play the Jack Jumpers – who won’t have played for 7 days – at Spark Arena on Sunday.

Here are the latest club records and milestones:

Lost 99-77 against South East Melbourne Phoenix at Trusts Arena on Thursday

Reuben Te Rangi and South East Melbourne have won two straight at Trusts Arena although the games were played 17 months apart!

You might recall that the Breakers returned to New Zealand after playing 29 consecutive road games in the 2021 season, completing the campaign with seven straight games on home soil. The finale was played at Trusts with SEM claiming an 83-78 win.

Only Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe and Will McDowell-White remain on the Breakers books from that first Covid affected season.

Loe received a blooded cheek after copping some friendly fire from Tom Vodanovich but returned to snare an eighth rebound in the game and chalk up his 600th NBL career rebound (86 of those during his single season with the Cairns Taipans). 

At Cairns Taipans on Sunday Won 68-64.

Will McDowell-White played his 50th game for the Breakers in Cairns. 

Barry Brown Jr, with 24 points, took his tally to 60 points in his three outings. With Derek Pardon averaging 11.3ppg (and 7.3 rebounds) and Jarrell Brantley 13ppg the three imports have settled in nicely.

Achieving victory scoring 68 points is the lowest total the Breakers have scored to gain a win since the leaky roof victory at Illawarra in February 2020. Breakers won 65-52 after the game was called off with three minutes to play in that one.

Otherwise we have to go back to New Year’s Eve 2012 when the Breakers eked out a 66-61 win, also in Cairns – a certain Cedric Jackson scored 17 points that night.

For the record the Breakers are 301-299 in those 600 games.

Upcoming

Izayah Le’afa is four points shy of 500 career points with Will McDowell-White needing 16 more for 400 career points.

Tom Vodanovich and Rob Loe are closing in on a couple of milestone games. Loe will play NBL career game number 150 next Sunday against the Jack Jumpers while Vodanovich needs to log three more appearances for his 150th.

Mixed fortunes for our overseas based Tall Blacks last week

There were mixed results for the European, Australian and American college based Tall Blacks last week.

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Tai Webster led Nebraka’s scoring with 19 points but the Huskers suffered their third single digit defeat of the season going down 70-69 in overtime to No7 Wisconsin on Friday.

Webster, who also led his team in assists with 5 in that category, “Played his butt off” according to coach Tim Miles.

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Jack Salt scored 4 points including a tip back going into half-time as Virginia, ranked No 9 in the country beat No 4 Louisville 71-55 on Wednesday. Salt’s play pleased teammate London Perrantes and helped set up a dominant second half display.

“It gave us a lot of energy. We were down by two going into the half and that was what we need from him. We need energy, we need those offensive rebounds, we need his blocks. Everything we get from him is huge, but obviously, there was a lot of energy from that moment.” Salt added 6 rebounds for good measure.

 Things didn’t go to plan for Salt or his team on Sunday beaten 80-78 in double overtime by rivals Virginia State. Salt logged 4 fouls in just 14 minutes managing 2 points and 4 rebounds in that time.

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The Sacramento State Hornets had a significant double over the weekend. On Friday they knocked off Big Sky Conference leaders Weber State 77-74 and followed this with a 75-63 win against Idaho State on Sunday. Izayah Le’Afa played a solid hand contributing 3 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a game high 3 steals against Weber State and 10 points against Idaho as the Hornets improve to 6-6 in conference play.

 Europe

In Spain Zaragoza was thumped 100-67 at Valencia and drop to 13th (7-13) on the Spanish League table. Isaac Fotu played a team high 31 minutes and scored 10 points but it must have been hard going in a fixture totally dominated by fourth placed Valencia.

Also in Spain Sammic ISB slip to second on the LEB Silver ladder after losing 79-70 at Cambados. Forward Mike Karena played a strong hand for Sammic snaring 6 rebounds as well as scoring 16 points

Junior Tall Blacks

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The Junior Tall Blacks have been drawn alongside European champions France, third placed Asian qualifier Korea and a yet to be announced fourth team from the Americas at the FIBA U19 World Cup.

The 16 teams event will be held in Cairo, Egypt from July 1st-9th.

New Zealand qualified for the event following their stunning success at the Oceania Champs in Fiji in December where the JTB’s knocked off favourites Australia 57-51 in the final.

Group A – Americas TBA, NZ, Korea, France

Group B – Germany, Egypt, Puerto Rico, Lithuania

Group C – Canada, Japan, Spain, Mali

Group D – Iran, Angola, Italy, USA

Australian NBL

Jarrod Kenny will be the sole Kiwi representative in Australian NBL play-off basketball. The Tall Blacks guard played an important part in Perth’s two victories over the weekend. In the pivotal game on Sunday Kenny scored 8 points, including a couple of long threes, as Perth accounted for Melbourne 96-94 and in the process eliminated the Breakers.

 Neither Reuben Te Rangi or Dion Prewster, the two other Kiwis with Australian clubs, will be in play-off action as Brisbane (8th) and Sydney failed to finish in the top four. Prewster, in what has been a disappointing season for the Nelson Giants bound guard, scored two points, as Sydney Kings were defeated 101- 74 in Perth.

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Te Rangi managed 4 points, a rebound and three assists but the injury ravaged Bullets were no match for Illawarra Hawks going down 106-79. Te Rangi will now return to NZ and link up with the Southland Sharks.

Alex Pledger logs 200th game for Breakers

 

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On Friday night in Cairns Alex Pledger will turn out for the 200th time in a Breakers uniform. He will become just the fifth Breaker to reach that mark behind Mika Vukona (315), Paul Henare (250), Tom Abercrombie (241) and Dillon Boucher (220).

Pledger says it is quite ironic that he plays his 200th game against the Taipans, “My 100th and 150th games were both against the Taipans, and it’s a bit of a strange coincidence that the 200th is against them as well.”

Now in his eighth season with the club – he debuted as a development player against Melbourne Tigers in October 2009 – Pledger has played on all four SKYCITY Breakers championship winning teams.

He missed the second half of the 2013-2014 season due to injury but either side of that he has been remarkably resilient missing just 5 of the Breakers 178 games in that time.

“I didn’t think I would get to this in the last couple of years but I’m pretty proud to get to that number and the body is feeling pretty good at the moment so hopefully I can go on and get a few more,” said Pledger.

He was the NBL’s leading shot blocker in 2012/13 (46 at 1.5bpg) and rebounder (227 at 7.3rpg). He also had his most productive scoring season, notching 331 points at 10.7 per outing.

This season he leads the NBL in field goal shooting percentages – 64.8% (75/116), is third on the shot blocking list (26 at 1.4pg) and 7th in rebounding (121 at 6.7pg).

Breakers head coach Paul Henare believes there is plenty more to come from his centre.

“He is only 29 and and big guys come into their prime in their late twenties early thirties so I think we will see further improvements in Alex’s game over the coming seasons.”

Pledger by Numbers

2009 – 2017 New Zealand Breakers

Appearances 199 – 5th all-time

Blocks 218 – First all-time

Rebounds 1,080 – 3rd all-time

Points 1,509 – 8th all-time

Double doubles 16 – 4th all-time

Wins 136 – 3rd all-time

Thoughts from Henare and Demopolous after Breakers beat Melbourne

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From Murray McKinnon

The Breakers shrugged off the pre-season blues to capture an early season scalp in beating Melbourne United 76-71.

The Breakers led 17-16 at the end of the first quarter and then went on a three point shooting spree courtesy of Corey Webster, Tom Abercrombie and newcomers Robert Loe and Ben Woodside. The ‘Chief’ made a couple of mid range jumpers to give the local team a 40-31 advantage going into the second half.

The third quarter was all Melbourne with former Breakers Cedric Jackson and Tai Wesley scoring inside and out. David Andersen and Ramone Moore also slotted in three pointers to put Melbourne ahead 52-48.

The Breakers responded in the final ten minutes in front of a crowd of 5639. Outstanding defensive work from Rob Loe and Akil Mitchell plus offensive output from Kirk Penny and Webster fuelled a 15 point Breakers run. However Wesley and Chris Goulding hit back to bring Melbourne within three points with less than two minutes remaining.

Melbourne desperate for possession and time their enemy were forced to foul sending Abercrombie, Mika Vukona and Woodside to the free throw line which converted into the Breakers final nine points and hold United at bay.

Paul Henare was pleased with the victory in his first time up as head coach in the Australian NBL.
“I’m really happy with the result, good to see all the guys on the floor and seeing the chemistry start to build. It is one game out of 28 and we’re going to enjoy it and move on,” said Henare.

“We didn’t play anyone over 30 minutes everyone got a decent hit out, the bigs worked extremely well together we’ve got four really good bigs there that we just keep rolling them in and you have confidence that they come in and do the job.”

Henare was not put off facing Melbourne in their first game on the season.
“Our belief in ourselves never wavered we knew we were facing a very good side and we knew we had to play some very good basketball to beat them and that’s what I’m proud of.”

The newcomers slotted in well in their debuts for the team.

“Rob Loe, he’s smart he knows the game he knows who he is as a player and you develop a level of trust because you just know what you are going to get out of Robbie and tonight he played out of his skin he was physical inside he battled on the boards and when he was on the floor the score was going the right way,” said Henare.

American point guard Woodside said that he has moulded well into the team.
“Adapting into the game is pretty simple when you have been playing basketball your whole life and for me it’s been smooth and I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” he said.

He also enjoyed his match up with Jackson, “He’s a great player and you’ve got to respect a guy like that who’s a winner and it’s great to go against a player like that.”

Jackson on the other had said it was weird playing against the Breakers for the first time.
“It was pretty weird, but as soon as the jump ball came up I just focussed and tried to get rolling.
“This game was a good learning lesson for us as a new group and we took a lot of positives out of this game, just minor tune-ups and I think we’ll be alright,” said Jackson.

Melbourne coach Dean Demopolous knows what it is like to lose at Vector Arena ( going down 78-91 to the Breakers seven months ago in last season’s semi-final).

“New Zealand played a hell of a game tonight and I thought we played well also, somebody’s got to lose it’s us tonight and hopefully on Sunday (United entertain Adelaide) it’s the other team,” said Demopolous.

“We lost, but I think we are going to be a very good team. It’s a work in progress, I’ve got a bunch of new faces, but I love our energy and I’ve loved it for a long time.”

Demopolous was pleased with his two former Breakers players Ced and Tai.
“They’ve been terrific, great attitudes, they work hard every day, they come early, stay late, they’re men not kids and I respect them and value their opinions and judgement on things especially their play. As they assimilate into this group as David Anderson is and Ramone Moore I see a lot of good things happening for Melbourne United.”

Abercrombie top scored for the Breakers with 14, Vukona had 12 and Webster 11. Wesley led the scorers for Melbourne with 15 (in just 14 minutes), Jackson was on 14 and Moore, Andersen and Goulding all contributed nine points.

Akil Mitchell completes Breakers roster

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AMERICAN IMPORT WILL ENTERTAIN SAYS BREAKERS HEAD COACH

 Excitement is building at Atlas Place as the SKYCITY Breakers today announced the final piece of their 2016/17 roster jigsaw with the signing of American/Panamanian Akil Mitchell, the 11th and final fulltime roster player for the upcoming campaign.

 The 206cm (6’9”) tall 24 year old is a native of Charlotte North Carolina and comes to the Breakers following a stellar College career at Virginia, working with respected Head Coach and former North Harbour player and coach Tony Bennett, a two time winner of the prestigious Henry Iba Award for the nation’s top coach as voted by the USBWA.

 Mitchell played a key role at Virginia and helped them to regular season and ACC Tournament Championships in 2014, in the process being named to the ACC All-Defensive team and second All ACC Tournament Team.

 SKYCITY Breakers Head Coach Paul Henare likes what the scouting reports say and is even more convinced knowing that Mitchell has worked so closely with Bennett.

 “Akil had a four-year career at Virginia and has two years’ experience playing professionally. His time under Tony Bennett – who has a great connection with New Zealand, would’ve prepared him well for a long and successful career. One of the things that impressed me most was his willingness to learn and do whatever it takes for the team to win.

 “Through watching tape and talking to our US scout Jonathan Givony, I knew we were getting someone that can guard 1-5 if needed which gives us some great flexibility when it comes to our defence. Offensively he will bring a great energy and with his athleticism, will be a crowd favourite I’m sure.”

 Undrafted in 2014, Mitchell has since spent time with the Houston Rockets (NBA Summer League), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (NBA Development League), the Brooklyn Nets (2015 NBA Summer League) before heading to France with Olympique Antibes for the 2015/16 season. In 49 games for the Vipers he averaged 9.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steal per game.

 Mitchell spoke at his arrival press conference just hours after landing in New Zealand.

 “I am super excited to be here, this is a good league with a lot of good players coming through. It is a good stepping stone for me in my career and a great opportunity to win some games. From what I have heard it is a great country and I am looking forward to it.

 “We were just in a room with all the championship trophies, I know this is a family orientated programme from ownership down, it is about family. I am looking forward to being a part of that, a team that wants to win and expects to win but is based on those great values.”

 The entire roster begins training from Thursday at Atlas Place, with the first chance for fans to see the team in action coming during the pre-season series against Brisbane Bullets in Tauranga (September 13), Napier (September 15) and Invercargill (September 17).

 The season gets underway with a mouthwatering clash against Melbourne United featuring Cedric Jackson and Tai Wesley on October 7 at Vector Arena

 CLICK HERE for a University of Virginia profile on Akil Mitchell

 Akil Mitchell Bio

Born: June 26, 1992 (age 24)

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Nationality: American / Panamanian

Height: 6’ 9” (2.06 m)

Weight: 230 lb (104 kg)

Career information

High school: Charlotte Christian School, (Charlotte, North Carolina)

College: Virginia (2010–2014)

Playing career

2014–2015: Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2015–2016: Olympique Antibes

Career highlights and awards

ACC All-Defensive team (2014)

Demopolous gracious in defeat after loss to Breakers

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“This is our first time in this kind of rodeo together”

From Murray McKinnon

Melbourne United head coach Dean Demopolous was philosophical and gracious in his reflections on the game in the post-match interview following the SKYCITY Breakers 2-0 sweep of Melbourne on Saturday.

“It was a hotly contested game and I’m just really proud of my guys man,this is our first time at this kind of rodeo together. It was a hotly contested game and I’m just really proud of my guys man. Eight new players, this group here (Breakers) has been through it before and they’re an excellent basketball team, they deserve the word champion to be by their names they earn it they talk it and they walk it, give them credit they’re better than us right now.”

“We aspire to be like them we’d like to hang up four out of five years champion banners, and they’ve got an excellent chance to make it five out of six in my opinion, but my team set a bar and a standard for this new franchise and their city embraced them, fans embraced them, ownership management embraced them, they took me on a hell of a ride and I’m appreciative of the opportunity that ownership and management gave me to spend a lot of time with a group of guys like this it’s one of the best group people I’ve ever been around and they made me better and we feed off each other and we’re going to try to come back stronger and better for it.”

“We congratulate New Zealand and wish them all the best going forward, in fact I’m rooting for them,” said Demopolous.

Chris Goulding who top scored with 23 points for Melbourne said that it hurt not making the final.
“We tried as hard as we could, but probably didn’t play our best game.”

“Where ever we finished at the end of the regular season, it doesn’t change how much this hurts so I wouldn’t say we were a dominant team all year we fought some massive games out to get and put ourselves in the best position possible which we did but at the end of the day that still wasn’t good enough. New Zealand hit their straps at the right time, they’re playing very good basketball,” said Goulding.

Breakers play-offs bound

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Tom Abercrombie believes the Breakers “Are getting a good rhythm offensively.”

good rhythm and a good flow offensively

By Murray McKinnon

The Breakers downed an undermanned Melbourne United side 100-63 and Illawarra Hawks beat the Adelaide 36ers 106-95 to leave the Breakers clear in fourth on the ladder and into the playoffs against top of the table Melbourne.

After Melbourne left three of the their key players Chris Goulding, Daniel Kickert and Hakim Warrick at home, the game was always going to be one sided in the Breakers favour and they duly led through all four quarters, 22-16, 53-34 at the half and 76-47 and the three quarter.
Cedric Jackson was outstanding from the arc with four threes, he also had six assists and ended with 17 points, Charles Jackson was on 18 and Corey Webster 17.

Dean Vickerman was aware before the game that Melbourne were likely to be down in man power.
“I heard a whisper yesterday that Goulding wasn’t coming and after hearing that he wasn’t coming I thought there would be a couple of other people would follow as well and not come.”
“At that point I felt we had some advantages on the boards I thought we would dominate the boards and dominate the inside and if we could still restrict their three point shot it is something we’ve got to keep working on against this team and we gave it a good job in both those areas,” said Vickerman.
“It was a real final for us tonight,” he added.

Thomas Abercrombie who scored 14 said that the team still went into the game with full on intensity.
“I thought we did a great job of coming out with the right mind set. And the intensity was there and we were able to build a good lead which is what we needed to do and rest guys down the stretch.
We wanted to send off Dean and Richard in their final home game in the right way and play in the right way for them so it was really nice that we were able to give those two a really fitting send off because that’s exactly what they deserve.”

“They’ve given a whole lot to the Club over a number of years so they deserved nothing less than a hundred percent effort from all of us out there. I thought the starters brought it and the guys that came off the bench did a great job as well with the opportunity they were given and they enjoyed that extra time out there and played really well,” said Abercrombie.
“Sunday’s game over there they are a different animal and have incredible home support and Melbourne’s really gets behind them,” he added.

Melbourne coach Dean Demopolous said that he wanted to rest his key players before the finals.
“Just overall they have aches and pains so it’s a good opportunity to give them a chance to recover a little bit, they’ve been hurt for a while now so it gave a chance for some guys to play who haven’t, so that’s about it.
“We’re in the playoffs so it was a strategic decision but it was more based on how they felt than anything else,” he said.

Asked if he gave this game away by not bringing those guys.
“Not at all, I thought we had an excellent chance to play better than we did, give New Zealand credit they’re a very good basketball team, there are champions so they seized the moment. We didn’t take advantage of the opportunity as well as I would have liked but that’s the way it goes and we’ll strap it up on Sunday,” he said.
Kyle Adnam off the bench played well top scoring for Melbourne with 16.
“He’s a young kid and he has a great spirit. And I’m glad he had the opportunity to play.”

Vickerman is delighted to make the playoffs.
“We dug a pretty deep hole for ourselves with consecutive losses and that’s just a credit to the group that we were able to get out of it, we found a way to climb and scratch out of it and now put ourselves in the situation where we’ve got the opportunity for the playoffs we’ve got the opportunity to win a championship right now,” he said.

Abercrombie feels that the team has come together well over the last few weeks.
“We’re playing good basketball right now, we’ve had a real focus on ball movement and shooting the basketball these last few weeks and we’re starting to see that show out in the games and the way we’re able to play for each other out there and I think we’re starting to get a good rhythm and a good flow offensively, we’ve been a good defensive team all year and that’s been able to stay steady and now we’re starting to see that confidence in the swag on the offensive end,” he said.