Mika Vukona will become the first SKYCITY Breakers player to appear in 300 games for the club when he takes the floor against Sydney Kings at North Shore Events Centre on Thursday night.
In his usual unassuming fashion, come Thursday, he will be on the court before the game announcer has reached the second syllable of his name. There will be no pausing or hand waving to acknowledge the applause – it will be game time and that means business for the club’s talisman.
However he did take time out after team training on Monday to reflect on the milestone and his 12 seasons with the Breakers.
“I’m in a good place. The organization has enabled me to get to the 300 games and it’s been an enjoyable time. When you are in a good environment, a good family situation, you always want to be there. There are times when it’s hard but it is just awesome to come back here. I guess winning makes a massive difference. When you win championships you just want to come back and keep getting more.”
Vukona has a particular attachment to a number of the people he began his journey with. “Dillon (Boucher), Pauli (Henare), Paul Blackwell, the Blackwell family. All those guys have influenced everything that I have done in those 300 games, its pretty massive,” he said.
He remembers his first game fondly, “It was the first game the Breakers ever played, I was a development player and I had the opportunity to come on in garbage time and it was awesome. The first time to come on as a young player and the house was rocking, it was good.”
For the record Vukona, just 21 at the time, scored a couple of points as the Breakers won that inaugural game 111-110 against Adelaide 36ers.
When quizzed on his favourite moment(s) with the club it’s the first championship with the Breakers that comes readily to mind.
“The 2011 championship. Going through the things that we had to get over, the trip to Perth, coming back, we had injuries that we had been going through. We had an amazing time that whole year and to cap it off with Pauli being able to walk away after winning the championship was awesome.”
The 34 year old acknowledges he has to refine his game, as he gets older, “I’m just maturing a little bit better”, he quipped.
“I have to make adjustments because if I don’t you get left behind and with the league going up another couple of levels you have to do that. And even in trainings here the guys are getting younger and it is something that I have had to learn. But it also a thing keeps me going even more. It is another challenge, it is something that excites me and it is something that I want to keep driving for and keep proving myself. The day that I can’t and my body says no will be the time to walk away,” he added.
Fortunately for Breakers fans that time is likely to be some way away, “I’m looking forward to many more appearances,” the 5 times NBL champion declared.
Perhaps not what opposition players want to hear.
Below are the Mika numbers for the Breakers but unfortunately there are no records kept of the loose balls garnered, box outs completed, defensive deflections produced and athletic rebounds he had no right to secure.
299 – Most Games Played
161 -Most consecutive games played (2010-2015)
171 – Most Wins by a Breakers player
2,034 – Most rebounds
36 Double doubles – 2nd all time for Breakers
2239 Points – 3rd a/t
213 steals – 3rd a/t
550 assists – 4th a/t
91 blocks – 4th a/t