Good start but all down­hill for Break­ers

The Northern Advocate - - Sport - Christo­pher Reive

If you weren’t ready to wel­come to the new era of NZ Break­ers bas­ket­ball be­fore, you no longer have the choice.

With Mika Vukona lin­ing up for the vis­it­ing Bris­bane Bul­lets in the sea­son opener at Spark Arena on Thurs­day, any un­will­ing to em­brace the new age were jolted into re­al­ity.

The Kiwi side rang in the new age with a hot open­ing quar­ter.

Un­for­tu­nately, bas­ket­ball is a four-quar­ter game.

Lead­ing 21-14 af­ter the open­ing 10 min­utes for coach Kevin Braswell’s reign, the Break­ers teetered on the side of a cliff be­fore plung­ing off it. Outscored 21-17 and 24-17 in the sec­ond and third quar­ters re­spec­tively, things got worse for the hosts as the game went on.

With a re­vamped ros­ter, it was the new additions Shawn Long, Ar­mani Moore, Jar­rad Weeks and Pa­trick Richard who looked the most im­pres­sive, al­though their time on the court was largely limited.

Long drew the start at cen­tre and it’s hard to see him los­ing that spot af­ter post­ing 10 points, seven re­bounds as well as be­ing one of just two Break­ers who saw time on the court at the end of the game with­out a neg­a­tive num­ber in the plus/mi­nus col­umn.

Re­cently named cap­tain Thomas Aber­crom­bie — the only mem­ber of last year’s start­ing five still with the team — was un­de­ni­ably the most dis­ap­point­ing in the sea­son opener. He drained just one of five field goals and shot 50 per cent at the charity stripe in a very for­get­table 31-minute per­for­mance.

While the Break­ers cap­tain went miss­ing, Bul­lets leader Cameron Glid­don was ev­ery­where. The Bris­bane guard scored a game­high 29 points, in­clud­ing 15 from be­yond the three-point arc, shoot­ing an ef­fi­cient 61 per cent from the floor. Small for­ward Alonzo Gee and cen­tre Cameron Bairstow, who both spent time in the NBA over their ca­reers, proved to be good se­condary scor­ing op­tions for the vis­i­tors, adding 13 and 14 points re­spec­tively.

On the bright side for the Break­ers’ fa­mil­iar faces, Corey Web­ster’s re­turn to Spark Arena in a Break­ers uni­form was a wel­come one. The 28-year-old guard con­tin­ued where he left off in the preseason show­case against the Phoenix Suns, car­ry­ing the team with 23 points, only four of which came in the fi­nal quar­ter, shoot­ing 50 per cent.

Com­mit­ting more turnovers and be­ing beaten con­vinc­ingly on the of­fen­sive glass will be a con­cern to Braswell’s men. With plenty of strength and length on the ros­ter, the Break­ers could only col­lect 35 re­bounds to Bris­bane’s 39.

The team will have a few days to re-fo­cus be­fore re­turn­ing to ac­tion, with a meet­ing against the de­fend­ing cham­pion Mel­bourne United side across the Tas­man to­mor­row.

PHOTO / PHOTOSPORT

Long-time Breaker Mika Vukona tor­mented his former team-mates when he re­turned to Auck­land with the Bris­bane Bul­lets.

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