Break­ers ready to bite

Sunday News - - BASKETBALL - MARVIN FRANCE

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.

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