A mammoth task faces the New Zealand Breakers if they are to complete a never-before-completed ‘four-peat’ (or is that a double-double ?) in this years Australian NBL competition.
Gone are two of the biggest influences from previous seasons in star guard Cedrick Jackson who, after a failed tilt to crack the glamorous NBA with the Miami Heat is now plying his trade in the lucrative European circuit. However, in what most pundits are seeing as a bigger loss Coach Andre Lemanis has returned back across the ditch to a full-time gig coaching the Aussie Boomers who with potentially an all NBA starting five are looking to make a big impression at next years Basketball World Cup (that’s the old World Champs
Throw in the departure of veteran Dillon Boucher (now selling Corporate Tables for Breakers home games in between coaching the Rosmini College Basketball team) and you’d think it was all doom and gloom down at Breakers HQ on Atlas Place but this is not necessarily so. The acquisition of former Sydney King Power Forward Darnell Lazare will complement the Breakers ‘marquee’ 2013/14 signing Jacksons replacement former College star Kerron Johnson nicely.
The choice of a younger former College player in Johnson is an interesting one by the Breakers whose renowned scouting web was thrown far and wide to find a replacement for Jackson, however Johnson has lit up the floor a couple of times and looked extremely promising in the pre-season while being somewhat anonymous in a couple of other games meaning only time will tell if the Breakers have hit the jackpot in the recruitment stakes again.
There is also some continuity on the Coaching front with former Assistant Coach Dean Vickerman now fully controlling the x’s and o’s while foundation Breaker and favourite son Paulie Henare (now with a National Title on his coaching resume’) providing the motivation during the timeouts as well as making sure the Sky Broadcasters have their fingers hovering over the beep button on a regular basis. There has also been some significant rule interpretation changes made to what was previously known as an overly physical league with attempts to make it more offensive-friendly, meaning coaching smarts will be an even more important component to success than usual.
Throw in the return of team regular’s hard man Mika Vikona, big Alex Pledger, 3 point specialist CJ Bruton and sharp-shooting Daryl Corletto and things are looking good again for the Breakers as long as the bench can step up when required.
The main opposition will again come in the form of the Perth Wildcats where the bitter rivalry between these 2 clubs looks set to continue. The Adelaide 36ers have recruited well and are looking to return to their former glory days while the Sydney Kings under former great Shane Heal will be looking to build on the improvements made last season. The Melbourne Tigers also looked strong in their recent 2-0 pre-season series win over the Breakers and will be tough at home.