Harvey Norman NZ Breakers vs Sydney Kings
Sorry, this event’s been and gone
|Thu 16 Nov ’06||
Where: North Shore Events Centre, Silverfield & Argus Place Entrances, Auckland
The first overseas franchise in the Philips Championship has had a difficult three seasons adjusting to the realities of competing in such a high-class, ultra-competitive league. Touted by many at launch as an immediate superpower, the Breakers have discovered that the Tall Blacks’ success internationally does not necessarily translate to the NBL game.
New Zealand has won just 30 games since joining the NBL in 2003, and is yet to make a postseason appearance. But the signs are there that this sleeping giant may finally awaken. After a dismal start last season, when they were 0-7 at one stage and blown out on a nightly basis, the Breakers finished strongly and even claimed the scalp of three-time champs Sydney in their home court, denying the Kings a perfect season at home.
Coach Andrej Lemanis has worked tirelessly to imprint his philosophy on the franchise – one based on hard work and a solid commitment to the defensive end of the floor – and although New Zealand finished last in points allowed last season, they picked it up markedly down the stretch and were noticeably tougher to score on the longer the season went.
One of the issues the Breakers have also had is an inability to put the ball in the bucket with any kind of consistency, and when they lost leading scorer Rich Melzer to the NBA, there was always a possibility that problem could be magnified in 2006/07. But fear not, Breaker fans, because the team has been outstanding in free agency, with two incredibly astute pickups who both fill glaring needs on this squad.
Brian WethersGetting 2005 league MVP Brian Wethers was a massive coup for starters. He led the NBL in scoring for the Hunter Pirates and took that team to the playoffs in 04/05, and he gives the Breakers a formidable weapon to unleash on opposing defences. Oscar Forman was lured from Adelaide to give the club more strength from the perimeter, and there’s little doubt he’s one of the league’s most exciting prospects.
Then you add in new import Carlos Powell, who has an impressive pedigree; and the improvement of big guys Ben Pepper and Tim Behrendorff thanks to the work done by assistant coach ‘Long’ John Dorge, and there’s much to be excited about if you are a Breakers fan.
New Zealand still has a giant question mark at the point, but otherwise, this looks like the most impressive lineup they have fielded to date in the Philips Championship. Home court wins shouldn’t be a problem, but they’ve got to win at least a decent share of games on the road. They do that, they make the playoffs, bottom line.