Breakers ready to bite
IT is not exactly panic stations for the Breakers but the next couple of weeks should tell a lot about just how far this team can go.
The Auckland club return from the new year’s break against Cairns at Spark Arena today looking to snap out of a mid-season slump.
The Breakers have lost five of seven games since the FIBA international window.
The Breakers’ stunning start to the season, where they amassed a nine-game winning streak to storm to the top of the table, has ensured they remain well entrenched in the top four with an 11-6 record.
But that can only prop them up for so long.
With a tough run over the next fortnight against Illawarra (away), Melbourne (home) and Cairns again (away) before a daunting trip to league leaders Perth at the end of the month, how they perform under adversity will define their campaign.
The good thing for coach Paul Henare is that he has no shortage of players on his roster who have been in this situation before.
And while there was a clear sense of urgency at training this week, veteran forward Mika Vukona emphasised the need for cool heads in the search to rediscover their mojo.
‘‘We’ve got to stay positive, everybody goes through Vukona told Stuff.
‘‘These other teams that are on a run now faced a little bit of adversity at the start of the season so they know how to deal with it.
‘‘When you win and the way we were winning, it doesn’t mean we didn’t have any adversity but it’s a different kind.
‘‘It’s learning that this is our process right now.
‘‘You never want to get on a streak like we’re on but at the same time it’s nothing to be worried about. There’s a lot of confidence in this group and it,’’ everybody backs everybody’s ability and talent.’’
Accountability has been the major theme for the Breakers since their most recent defeat to Adelaide nine days ago.
They are an extremely close group but Henare admitted this week that could be working against them when it comes to holding each other to task.
The team held an ‘‘honesty session’’ over the break, which was not so much about pointing the finger but providing an honest assessment to identify where they are going wrong.
Import point guard Edgar Sosa JASON MCCAWLEY/GETTY IMAGES says the response has been evident on the training court.
‘‘We treat each other like brothers but sometimes you have to hold your brother accountable when it comes to doing our jobs,’’ he said.
‘‘We had to have that honesty session to say things that we’re not comfortable with, that we think we can get better at and put it all on the table. We all accepted it as men and we all understand that we have to get better.’’
After back-to-back losses, the sixth-placed Taipans (9-11) kept their finals hopes alive with an 83-80 home win over Brisbane on Friday.
They have a strong record in Auckland, having already won there in the opening game of the season. But they will feel like they owe the Breakers after being on the receiving end of one of the craziest finishes in ANBL history during their last clash in Cairns in round rive.
Sosa drained a game-winning corner three on the buzzer before Cam Gliddon’s three-quarter court shot was waved away for being too late.
By his own admission, the Dominican Republic international was not having a great night but he kept plugging away and his persistence eventually paid off.
It is a mindset the Breakers need more than ever as they look to get back on track for the playoffs. ‘‘It’s not always going to be peaches and cream,’’ Sosa said.
Veteran Mika Vukona is confident the Breakers will get back on track after a tricky end to last year.