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September 22, 2006 at 11:37 pm #6783
4 sleeps to go
Harvey Norman NZ Breakers’ captain Paul Henare says it’s time for his team to put into practice all the key learnings from three tough years in the Philips Championship.
The Breakers, with four newcomers in their 10-man roster including two new imports, tackle Australian NBL newcomers the South Dragons, from Melbourne, in their opening match of the season at the North Shore Events Centre next Tuesday night.
Henare has appeared in all 97 games the club has played since its inception, an effort replicated by Aaron Olson, and firmly believes the Breakers are in the best shape of their short history.
“The first year we had the same expectations but were going in blind and didn’t know what to expect,” Henare said. “This year, because we have players experienced in the league, making the play-offs for the first time is a realistic goal.
“The first three years we went through the necessary steps to see where we needed to be and, most importantly, how to get there.
“Now I feel as a club, and as a team, it’s time to put the key learnings into place. We’ve had our teething troubles, we’re wiser now and it’s time to get results”
Henare boils the on-court aim down to one word: defence.
“Scoring points isn’t the issue. It’s whether we can stop the guns stacking up big points…fast,” he said. “We showed at times in our pre-season games that we can knuckle down and restrict teams to a low score and we have to do that consistently in our championship games.”
Another objective is to remain cool under pressure.
“We want to have composure when it comes to close games and not stress out too much. That comes with experience and you can only get that by playing.”
Paul HenareThe Breakers’ pre-season has been disrupted to a certain extent by the need to find a replacement import for Rich Melzer and the involvement of three Tall Blacks – Henare, Olson and Mika Vukona – in the recent World Championships in Japan.
But Henare says the build-up to next Tuesday night’s opener has gone well and the pre-season trip to Australia to play three other Philips Championship teams and take part in the Blitz tournament was vital
“The Aussie experience gave us a good measure of where we’re at and, most importantly, where we need to be,” Henare said.
“We showed ourselves what we’re capable of and played some great basketball in patches. Some of the offence was just awesome, but we knew some hard work had to be spent on defence and we certainly picked up that area of the game in the final two matches in Sydney.”
Henare is looking forward to the return to the North Shore Events Centre, the Breakers’ home in Year One, and says it’s exciting and comforting to be back where it all started.
“It’s also fitting given how we’re feeling. There’s a growing sense of optimism in the team and we’re back on the Shore to create some history – for starters, making the play-offs for the first time ever.
“Another plus in being on the Shore is our fan base. The region is renowned for being great basketball supporters and the team is excited about the potential for superb crowd support.”
In other Breakers news head coach Andrej Lemanis is happy with the firepower at his disposal and is feeling positive and confident heading into the Breakers’ opening match of the Australian NBL season.
IAaron Olson“nto his second season in the position, Lemanis says three pre-season matches and the Blitz tournament in Australia were important for determining how the team is tracking ahead of next Tuesday’s match against the South Dragons.
“There were some good signs,” Lemanis said. “We definitely have some talent and versatility. As always, there are things to work on, but we have th
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