New Zealand star says Hinder the key for Townsville
LUKE Schenscher and Mick Cedar may be considered matchwinners, but Mika Vukona reckons Russell Hinder is the Crocs’ oxygen.
Tonight at The Swamp, the NBLleading Breakers will be aiming to leave them gasping for air.
Both teams head into the game desperate for a win albeit for slightly different reasons.
Townsville need to arrest a twogame losing streak that threatens to derail their top-two hopes, while the Breakers are looking to get back on the roll that has seen them clinch the minor premiership with four games remaining. It makes for a guaranteed e mo t i o n - c h a r g e d n i g h t , wh i c h Vukona believes makes Crocodiles captain Hinder as dangerous as ever.
‘‘ Hinder is the emotional ticket of the teams,’’ the 28-year-old Fiji product said. ‘‘ He will get the team going when they need it most, he pulls them in around him.’’
Hinder averages 8.5 points, six rebounds and a nudge under two assists per night – stats Vukona said were nothing to be sneezed at.
But after eight years of banging bodies with him in the paint, Vukona said Hinder’s biggest asset was his leadership. ‘‘ The way he communicates on court really gets through. In every situation he has his part to play, he comes up with the right things at the right time,’’ Vukona said. ‘‘ He’s someone they know they can turn to.’’
Vukona continued his thoughts on what the Breakers would need to do to win tonight’s one-versus-three showdown.
‘‘ We have to get on top of Hinder, Mick Cedar and Will ( Blalock), because these are guys who the team feeds off,’’ Vukona said.
But while the Breakers have their sights set on shutting down Hinder, the Crocodiles will be equally focused on red-hot Vukona.
The athletic 198cm, 93kg forward has found a rich vein of form, averaging a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds in his past three outings.
He also had 10 points and eight rebounds when New Zealand beat Townsville in a one-point thriller last week. A championship winner with the South Dragons in 2008, Vukona said it was no coincidence he was starting to hit his peak.
‘‘ I love playing at this time of year,’’ he said.