Category Archives: ANBL

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.

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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.”

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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.

Vickerman and Dennis reflect on Breakers win against Townsville

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Dean Vickerman “Any win right now is a good win for us.” 

By Murray McKInnon

The drought is over, the Breakers finally got a win on the board with a 77-74 home victory over the Townsville Crocodiles at the Vector Arena on Friday night.

But they had to battle it out over the final two and a half minutes after Corey Webster with a three pointer had given them an 11 point buffer going into the final stanza.
Clint Steindl sparked a revival for the Crocodiles with six straight points and Nicholas Kay gave them further hope with a three and two free throws. Mika Vukona sitting on four fouls, determined not let it slip away, made two quick layups and Tom Abercrombie came in a with a free throw and a two point shot to clinch it for the Breakers in front of a crowd of 5562.

Scores were locked at 22 a piece after the first quarter where Abercrombie, from the free throw line, in the opening seconds of the game gained the two points he needed to become the Breakers all-time leading scorer surpassing Kirk Penney’s 2,517 points. Abercrombie playing in his 215th game for the Breakers top scored with 22. Charles Jackson with 15 points and 15 rebounds, Cedric Jackson on 13 and Corey Webster 12 were the other top contributors to the win.
The Breakers led 38-36 at the half and at the end of the three-quarter the teams were level again at 52-52.

It was a relieved and smiling Dean Vickerman who fronted the media after the game.
“Any win right now is a good win for us, we built a solid lead and everything that possibly could happen kind of happened in that last part, a number of offensive rebounds, foul a three point shooter, a push off on an inbound pass, there were a number of things that happened that didn’t help us close that thing out, but we held our nerve and we’re really happy to get the win,” said Vickerman.
“The message got through that we wanted to foul, we fouled, we did it right, we questioned the last one, there’s four and a half seconds to go, do you foul that one, but it worked out,” he added.

Vickerman said after six straight losses confidence was down a bit coming into the game.
“After some losses like we’ve had there’s just that little edge off your confidence and we showed that a little bit tonight, but to get through that one and now we keep building and we’re back to 500 and we move on to Adelaide.
“I thought we had some patches where we blew the game and got out to a good margin, that end of the third quarter wasn’t good for us where they made a little come back. I kept my time out there and wanted to see how long we could play that group that we put in at the start of the fourth quarter and they pretty much played the whole game out, Mika played the whole quarter with four fouls, I though Charles was the best of our bigs and kept him out there. Corey struggled the first half but he came through with some key shots. I thought Tommy was outstanding most of the night and Ced just drove us tonight and it was really important his attack on the rim was outstanding play and to get Charles to action that dump down the stretch,” said Vickerman.

The coach was also pleased to see Abercrombie reach a milestone of scoring for the Club.
“There’s been some amazing players play for this Club and for him to be top of the scoring list and with a long career to go it will be interesting to see how far he can take that record” he said
Vickerman left it to Cedric Jackson to comment on Charles Jackson.
“Charles really watches a lot of film that’s a great learning tool from the guys he’s been learning from and he’s always trying to find a way to be a spark and he was definitely that tonight and with his energy he’s the best communicator on court all night. We talk a lot but he drove everything tonight and he’s getting his confidence back and learning how to defend certain players, he’s just got this little thing of get your hand out of the cookie jar. Alex Pledger’s also playing great right now and as long as we can just continue to build on that and stay focussed,” said Cedric.

Going forward Vickerman said it was a nice little bit of relief but there is still more work to do.

“Go in there and play to get the win and see what happens happens, we tick this one off we’re back to 500 and we’re 12 and 12 and we’ve four to go and we know it’s two at home and two on the road and one of the things we haven’t been able to do this year so far is be a really good team on the road and if we want to make the finals we going to have to do that, it’s a great test for us right now.”

Asked if he was disappointed at losing Townsville coach Shawn Dennis said if anything he was pleased with the effort his team showed.
“I don’t think it’s disappointing when you look at you’re playing New Zealand in New Zealand who are four times champion in five years, and we’re the youngest team in the League and spend out the least amount of money in the League, to come back into it like that shows the guts and determination of this group so I’m actually extremely proud. You want to win on the scoreboard but we’re still learning how to win and against the Breakers, there’re three teams in this League, that if you don’t win the possession game, it’s very difficult to beat and that’s Adelaide, Illawarra and New Zealand and we had 17 turnovers and gave up 20 offensive boards and that’s the ball game and then you miss 12 free throws on top of that it’s actually a miracle we were within three, so from that point of view to do that and still have a chance to win the game I’m extremely proud of this group, that’s a great effort and I think people need to realise what a hell of an effort that is against New Zealand.

“They’re four times champions when they know they need to perform in general they always do and they did today, they threw everything they had at us and they only got us by three and that’s an incredible effort by our blokes and I’m extremely proud of them”, said Dennis.

He added that he was impressed with the Breakers play.
“They’re a good shooting team and they can get second chance goes at it and that gives them confidence to shoot the ball and that’s what happened in the fourth quarter, they dominated us in that area and in the last part of the quarter we started to take care of it. And that’s when we were able to edge our way back in and were able to set up a couple of good plays and there’s no secret in basketball that your defence is the thing that creates good offensive opportunities and poise within your team and we started to get that done and overall we weren’t too bad defensively we kept them under 80 points which I think is a very good effort but you just can’t give up all that possession, it just kills you in the end,” said Dennis.
“Our aim is to get to 12 wins if we can and win the rest of our home games and it means we’ve had another improvement after a tough off-season,” he added.

Vickerman annoyed, Beveridge delighted.

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Career high 40 points for Kevin Lisch

By Murray Mckinnon
The SKYCITY Breakers let a much needed win against the Illawarra Hawks slip from their grasp in a double overtime thriller at Vector Arena on Sunday.
With the score at 80-77 with seconds remaining in regulation time, Mika Vukona stepped up for two free throws which he missed. Then instead of immediately fouling, the Breakers left Cody Ellis clear to launch a three pointer that sank locking the score up at 80 all and sending the game into overtime.
Cory Webster hit a three at the start of the next five minutes of play but Kevin Lisch responded for the Hawks with a couple from the charity stripe a field goal and a three. Tai Wesley came back with four points and Charles Jackson had the Breakers ahead by two only to have Lisch sneak in for a lay up to lock the scores at 89 apiece.
Lisch immediately sunk a three with Webster responding. Lisch then came into his own at the free throw line with six points and despite Webster gaining another two from the free throw Jarrad Weeks delivered the final nail in the coffin with two from the charity stripe to give the Hawks a 103-96 victory.
Coach of the Breakers Dean Vickerman was not impressed with his team’s play in the final seconds of regular time.
“We struggle as a coaching staff just to get past the last ten seconds of regulation and we broke a team rule, when we had the opportunity to foul and that’s what we do in that situation and we didn’t and you pay the price for it to allow them to get a three that was contested and everything, but they shouldn’t even be shooting that basketball it should be shooting two right now (from the free throw) instead of making that three and going into overtime. We talk about it, we made improvements, we did some things better, but that’s just totally against who we are and what we believe in and what our rules are as a team and I thought we had about three opportunities to get it done to foul, they made three passes so that’s where we lost the game.”

After three previous losses to the Hawks this season the Breakers came out with a vengeance and dominated the first quarter to lead 32-24. Tai Wesley was on target from the perimeter and Alex Pledger was superb under the post with eight points in quick succession.
“We were well prepared for the game and for whatever they threw at us and it took three games to get well prepared for this team because they do change things a lot and do disrupt and do a lot of different things.
“There were so many things we did better especially just the intent to start with and I thought our organisation was great I thought the boys were huddling, we played at a pace we like to play at and got good contributions from a lot of people and we just seemed like we were really together and on point and again to me it’s just a shame that we spoilt it for it with that one play,” said Vickerman.
The Breakers went to the break leading 53-48 and were still leading at the three quarter 71-65, but then the Hawks got on top of the game in the fourth to come back with a run of ten unanswered points.

Coach of the Hawks Rob Beveridge said they have been working on their defence in recent weeks and that’s what got then there in the end.
“The Breakers dictated the whole first quarter it was their quarter they came out and that’s what I was expecting the Breakers to do. For us to have three games of 20 plus point wins I was shocked with that and thinking to myself we’re going to come to an arena that’s going to be loud (attendance 6309) and they’re going to throw everything at us and they did that and I thought they were the better team early but once we started to actually play some great defence I thought we were very very good and I look at some of the shots that Abercrombie made and Webster they were late on the clock right on the buzzer and we can’t do much about that but we made them really work for it and as the game went on obviously we shut them down from our defence which is what we have been working on. The first half of the season we were very average and so I’m pretty pleased with that,” he said.
“It was a hell of a game, I don’t know what the fans expect but that was just a wow factor for fans watching, it was a battle, it was a real grind it was an arm wrestle, there was some great basketball out there. It was almost the survival of the fittest at the end, just look at the body language of the players how bad it was. So it came down to that mental grind and what we’re looking forward to is if we’re going to make the play offs that’s the type of grind it’s going to be and I think we ticked the box on that tonight,” added Beveridge.

Vickerman said they were aware of the challenge going into the game.
“We went into the game talking about the challenge we had in front of us how you want to beat every team in the League and to not have done that this year that hurts us as a group in that we couldn’t quite find a way to beat everyone in this League and I hope we get another opportunity to,” he said.
Vickerman did however acknowledge the win by Illawarra.
“They’re a good team and they kept fighting they never give up and they showed why they are one of the best teams in the League tonight the way they kept fighting back.”

Lisch who had a career high of 40 points said it was an enjoyable game.
“That was a long game, it was enjoyable just in the fact that there were so many ups and downs throughout the game. You think you lose, you think you win, it just goes back and forth and both teams just played really hard and we’re fortunate enough down the stretch to hit some big shots, Cody (Ellis) hit some huge shots for us. It was just a fun win which really we needed.”
The Sunshine Swing is coming up for the Breakers (Townsville on Thursday and Cairns on Saturday) and Vickerman said that the team has to start to show that they are a playoff team after suffering four straight losses.
Beveridge feels that the Breakers will make the playoffs.
“This is a winning Club it’s as simple as that. I’ve no doubt and I’ve always said that Perth and New Zealand are the two best teams and for us actually beating four zero in the series is just amazing it really is and don’t think anybody would ever think that Illawarra could do that. But the Breakers they’re champions, they know how to win, they’ve got a group out there and I know that they’ll be fighting their backsides off for the playoffs for sure.”

Webster top scored for the Breakers with 22, Cedric Jackson 18 and Alex Pledger and Tom Abercrombie scored 12. Lisch’s 40 was backed up with 18 from Ellis, 15 from Andrew Ogilvy and 14 from Kirk Penney who did not play the fourth quarter.
“Kirk Penney cramped up pretty bad (in the hamstring) in that final quarter and the thing is at the end of the day he’s 35 years of age and we’ve still got lots of games ahead of us. This game tonight of course we want to win but I don’t want to put our players long term future in doubt so we pulled him and we’ll get treatment for him and the last thing we’ll do is rush him back, if it is anything worse than a cramp or strain whatever it might be,” said Beveridge.

Breakers v Illawarra Hawks Media Conference transcript

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Kirk Penney scores 27pts and 18 tickets

From Murray McKinnon

The SKYCITY Breakers home court run of victories this season came to a crashing end at eight.The Illawarra Hawks were in the groove from the off with Kirk Penney and Kevin Lisch dropping three point bombs and Andrew Ogilvy tidying up in the paint to have the visitors out to a 26-9 lead inside the first six minutes of the game.

Corey Webster got a look in towards the end of the first quarter with a couple from beyond the arc but the Hawks went to the break ahead 34-21.
Tai Wesley gave the Breakers a lift at the start of the second period with a couple of three pointers and joined by Reubin Te Rangi, Everard Bartlett, Webster and Tom Abercrombie held the Hawks to their margin going to the half time with the score at 59-47.
Lisch and Penney hit it hard over the next ten minutes drawing Illawarra out to 88-69 going into the final quarter. Good runs by Cody Ellis and Jarrad Weeks gave the Hawks the winning formula rounding out with a 107-83 thrashing.
Penney finished with 27, Lisch 24 and Ogilvy 18. For the Breakers Webster was on 25, Wesley 20 and Abercrombie 12.

Kirk Penney was pleased to be back home playing against his old team and down played his involvement and success with 27 points.

“The big part for us is defence, you can look at the scoring and stuff but look where we’ve come early on in the year we were the mockery of the League, they can’t defend, they can’t rebound. I just think we’ve made great strides and that is what has opened it up offensively for us all, and then we get easy looks,” he said.

Despite being the opposition Penney still had plenty of support in the crowd.

“When we’ve got 20 tickets allocated to the team and I’ve got 18 of them, it probably means a lot to me to come and play and play well. I knew my family was there from my Mum to my cousins my nieces and nephews and whenever they’re there you want to go out and put on a good show for them, they want to enjoy it and playing for Bevo it’s not hard, except we kind of failed we got 75 shots and he wants us to get 80 shots but how fun is that as a player,” said Penney who received a round of applause from the crowd as he was subbed off with minutes remaining.

Lisch is also a key component on the court says Penney.

“He’s very talented, and he does an awesome job, he’s on the other wing with you so he takes so much pressure off you and if he’s in any late shot clock situations he’ll give a tremendous shot. If you’re guarding him your ankles better be loose.”

Age is no barrier to Penney who turned 35 on 23 November according to Beveridge.

“He’s a professional, age it’s a number, we always call him the old guy and stuff like that but he does a tremendous job. Because of the intensity that we play at, for him to do that just shows what great shape he actually is in.

Rob Beveridge coach of the Hawks said the trip to New Zealand was about adversity.

“We played to win (against Sydney) on Friday night, left at 7am from Wollongong, no food on the plane, no sleep, hydration was crap and we got in quite late so we could have used that as an excuse coming here to New Zealand where they’re 8-0 on their home court. So how are we going to handle the adversity that if we happen to get to the playoffs that’s what we have to do as backup two days later so we tried to do this as a test run, to see how we could handle it and I think (we passed) with flying colours, that was just amazing, a really amazing performance by our guys tonight,” he said.
“Penney and Lisch, made massive, massive plays and that’s why they’re the big MVP’s of the League. We’re starting to gel as a team, starting to understand who gets the shots when and obviously when you’ve got Kirk and Lisch and a big horse in the middle with Ogilvy we’re pretty tough to stop.”
“I believe it was our best performance of the season we spoke about that in the changing room that was our best, the way we weathered the storm, we didn’t fall in a hole we always knew they are going to come at us and they started nailing some threes and they brought it back a bit but then we executed so we’ve been in positions where if you want to call we’ve choked in the past against Perth, up by a good margin and losing the game. And we’ve learnt how to close that out now and tonight was definitely the best performance by us.”

When playing against a team with a large home crowd (6077) Beveridge said it is always good to silence them from the start.

“When you’ve got big crowds doesn’t matter where you are you’ve got to silence the crowds because when they get into it that just generates so much and they become bullet proof and these guys know that as well. We get our players to play as loose as we possibly can within the parameters we don’t want to be out of control and Kamikaze but they know there’s an expectation that if they’re open they have to shoot that ball and we made it as simple as that and it becomes a grind when you don’t make it which we’ve had those games, but tonight was having fun and that’s one of the big things with this group. It’s a group of tight players that back each other and have a go at each other for not shooting it. We’re playing some exciting fun basketball and they enjoy it,” he said.

Vickerman said the key to the Hawks was the great duo of Penney and Lisch.
“They showed why they’re two of the premier players in the league right now and two of the premier players in Europe and tonight we didn’t do a good enough job on them. We tried to make them make passes with mixed results on that one. They so good you’ve got to make sure that you can limit their catches and I thought they were good enough to make fairly easy catches and then make their decisions. There were so many tipped, loose balls and everything that they came up with tonight and that was the difference in the desperation that both teams showed tonight and they made their own luck tonight.
“We had a different strategy going into this game and we weren’t able to get that done for the first time this year. We’ve been able to make able to make adjustments on the fly and change our defence a little bit and tonight we didn’t have the answers and we threw some zone out there to just have a bit of a look at it. We pride ourselves on being the best man to man defensive team in the League and we’ll go back and review it and we’ll find a better way to get it done next time.”

Breakers Coach Dean Vickerman added that the stats from the game were a little bit flattering.

“We knew this team was going to challenge our defence, we’ve kind of prided our self on holding people to some of the lowest totals in the League and tonight I just didn’t think we started with the right intent, obviously the three ball is massive to them but to give up five in the first quarter and I didn’t think they were heavily contested I thought they were pretty solid looks for them and for us to come out that way and get on the back foot from the start and we were battling it from there,” he said.

It was a reality check for the Breakers and Vickerman said that there were some lessons to be learnt from the game.
“Their ability to use screens, to set screens, really some simple fundamental things that they do well to get open, right now we can take a bit of a lesson from some of the things they do with the way they use each other to get open shots.”
“We felt like we had a good home run playing well here. We haven’t played unbelievable basketball over the last few games, we’ve played in patches and you can’t do that against a good team like this one. They established a lead and were able to maintain it. Our energy was in and out we made some small little runs but then we made errors, simple errors to assess what defence they were in and try and pick the appropriate offense against it was something that I didn’t think we led well enough on the floor in making those decisions and obviously we coughed the ball up just too much tonight.”

 

Tai Wesley reiterated his coach’s comments of what went wrong for the Breakers and where the Hawks won.

“Their ability to shoot and make threes. Tonight we weren’t good defensively especially right at the start, those first three baskets were threes and were good looks and I think that got them going. Once you get the wheels rolling they’re hard to slow down and hard to stop and it seems like out there tonight it seemed like we couldn’t stop them, we couldn’t slow them down. We make a good offensive play but then they’d come back and answer it and make two more, so it was difficult,” said Wesley.

Beveridge said the competition in the League was still wide open.
“There’s more than the top four right now. Townsville can beat Perth as they’ve done three times, Adelaide are sitting right there too, so there’s definitely more than four teams in this comp.”
Illawarra were playing with one of their key players down, Rhys Martin who travelled across the Tasman was left low with a virus and couldn’t take the court and was left resting at the hotel.

Melbourne coach gracious in defeat

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From Murray McKinnon

It was sweet revenge for the Breakers, after losing in controversial circumstances by one point two weeks ago in Melbourne, to come away with a solid fourth quarter slog to beat Melbourne 80-69 at Vector Arena on Sunday.

It was billed as the grudge match between point guards Corey Webster and Melbourne’s Chris Goulding and Goulding definitely got plenty of ribbing from the vocal 6749 spectators in attendance.
However Webster was the star of the show, scoring nearly half of the Breakers’ points, with a season league high of 39 which included seven from the outer perimeter.

The first quarter Melbourne with a couple of threes from Stephen Holt and Daniel Kickert went out to a 15-9 lead before Webster went on a run with three straight field goals, a bucket from Charles Jackson and then a three pointer from Webster followed by three from the free throw stripe to suddenly have the score at 23-18. At the end of the quarter the Breakers led 23-22.

Webster did not start in the second quarter but was brought in after a time out when Melbourne took a hold with Holt proving spark in the backcourt. Tom Abercrombie showed a couple of good plays with a three and a quick lay-up. Melbourne went to the half time leading 35-32 and they led at the three quarter 52-51. Webster then took control in the final ten minutes with a lesson in three point shooting.

Asked if it was a bit of a pay-back time Webster said it was the win he was after more than anything else.
“That was in the back of my mind, ever since it happened but honestly I wasn’t really thinking about that during the game I was just trying to help the team where ever I could and to get the win and luckily I shot the ball well,” said Webster.
“It was satisfying beating them tonight, they’re at the top of the league right now and that’s where we want to be and we’re working our way up there so it was a good win for us.
“I had great screens from my team mates that’s all it is really. When you had a couple you start to feel good about yourself and the rim seems like it gets a bit bigger, but it’s credit to my team mates for getting me so open and when you’re that open at this level most people make wide open shots.
“We’ve always want to protect our home court and now that we’ve got a road win we can keep building on that,” he added.

Coach of Melbourne Dean Demopoulos was gracious in defeat, saying that he has a lot of respect for the Breakers and didn’t think that they had come out fired up because of what had happened in their previous game.

“I don’t think that had anything to do with it, they’re champions of the League and they’ve been perennial champions. Four out of five years they come out pretty fired up by nature, that’s one of the elements of who they are. You’ve got to beat this team, they’re the reigning champions. They’ve got the cup (trophy) and everyone else is thirsty,” said a personable Demopoulos.

He conceded that Webster was the key to the Breakers victory.
“Much too much Corey Webster tonight. He’s a terrific player and made some tough shots, I thought we defended him okay for the majority of the time but he made some terrific shots, they got him open they went to him and that’s what champions do.

“I thought it was two pretty good teams knocking heads more than anything else. And one team that’s done a whole lot more together than the other team and that’s the reason why you look up and it looks like San Antonio here. The banners they tell you why you’re in the kind of fight you’re in.
“By the way I loved it here, terrific City, I wasn’t here long but I had a chance just to walk around briefly and looks like you celebrate your team and back it and you got a good product, hats off.
“It’s not a rivalry situation yet between the two teams, we’ve got to win some games and get into the type of post season play that they (Breakers) do before it becomes a rivalry, I think right now it’s pretty one sided,” he said.

Former NBA assistant Demopoulos was asked if Webster is in the same mould as NBA shooter Steph Curry.
“That’s a good analogy, he was tonight. There’s a lot of fine players in this league, but Corey’s at the top of the list for sure and that was a great, great performance. I’ve seen Kobe (Bryant) get 60, and I’ve seen players get high numbers but Corey’s 39 was quiet, very efficient and he had a hell of a game,” said Demopoulos.

Dean Vickerman coach of the Breakers said it was timely for Webster to shine.
“I thought at different times it was one of those grind of a games, but Corey did a hell of a job defensively too and that’s something we spoke about, out of him or Goulding who’s going to play the best defence and I thought Corey did a hell of a job there. Both teams were struggling to score and Corey worked hard to get open and that’s one of the things he’s doing right now he’s sprinting off screens, people are screening well for him, creating enough separation to get clean looks and he obviously shot the hell out of the three ball tonight.

“We put Corey at the point guard as Ced wasn’t a hundred percent tonight and we went back to the group that closed out the game at Sydney the other night and he did really good job of getting a mixture of run and play for himself and his team mates and I thought that was another evolution of his game in being able to dictate what happens at the offensive end,” said Vickerman.

“Ced made some amazing lay ups tonight, his reverse lay ups, kiss off the glass high, we know he’s a brilliant player even not at hundred percent he put in a hell of a performance. I thought Pledger was really good and he continues to come on and that was a big post move for him and he hasn’t had a lot of those opportunities but it was a key time for him to go in, just back Warwick (Hakim) in and make a key bucket there.
“We still didn’t rebound as well as we wanted to against this team, Majok got to the offensive glass too much for my liking, the other goals we set ourselves tonight was to hold them under 30 percent from the three point line and that went a long way to helping us get the win tonight.
“Mika, that was his best game of the year, when we needed him he came up with key offensive rebounds he made his own little post moves and as the season wears along he’s going to get more touches in the post and be more aggressive as well. Get Ced healthy, get Mika healthy, get Wesley back and get our combinations together again we’ve got to just keep building, it’s massive for us we’ve got a Perth series to finish off over there and then back here so it’s going to be a key series and certainly one we want to win,” he added.

Maintaining a clean record on the home court is also a key priority for Vickerman.

“I stress to the guys how important winning at home is and now that we have six in a row we’ve just got to keep building on it, I’ve got to stop it with timeouts when I feel like that we’re letting it down, because we just can’t let anything go at home it’s going to be so important to your record and how you finish the end of the year,” said Vickerman.

Cedric Jackson scored 10 for the Breakers and Abercrombie 9. Goulding top scored for United with 19, Holt was on 17 and Kickert 13.
Majok with eight points was philosophical after their latest loss.
“We’ve lost three games in a row, but I think we’re going to be alright. Everybody’s coming for us because of the great start that we have had so we’ve just got to regroup and come back even stronger,” said Majok.

The Breakers play Perth in Perth on Friday night and then the return game against Perth is at the North Shore Events Centre on Wednesday 2 December.