Good start but all downhill for Breakers
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.
Long-time Breaker Mika Vukona tormented his former team-mates when he returned to Auckland with the Brisbane Bullets.