The love affair the New Zealand Breakers has with the public was sorely tested last season with the 2011/12/13 Three-peat side completely missing out on the ANBL playoffs in what could only be described as a disastrous season.
However, owners Paul and Liz Blackwell along with Coach Dean Vickerman have moved swiftly to strengthen the Breakers roster for the upcoming season where the lack of a genuine ‘big’ to support Tall Black Alex Pledger which was the main Achilles Heel after Pledger suffered a season-ending injury has been shored up with the addition straight from the powerful Spanish League of big Nigerian Ekana Ibekwe.
The early signs look good for Ibekwe where he performed well in this weekend’s pre-season blitz in Brisbane, however it won’t be until the season starts proper whether the Breakers will know if they have recruited Lemonade or the stuff used to make it.
In addition, the Breakers have lured fan favourite and excitement machine Cedric ‘Action’ Jackson back to the North Shore after an injury-plagued season in Slovenia (the Lakers thing didn’t really work out either) and it will be Jackson that Vickerman will be looking for to organise the offence and in particular create space for local talent Corey Webster to light up from three point range. This was an area where the Breakers sorely fell down last season where straight-from-College rookie guard Kerron Johnson did not show the necessary maturity to guide the much vaunted Breakers offence.
Other areas of the squad have also been strengthened where Rhys Carter has been lured from last year’s beaten finalists the Adelaide 36ers to provide much needed back up for Jackson along with the signing of Power Forward Tai Wesley who was a standout performer in the Southland Sharks recent controversial NBL season.
The rest of the squad is fairly settled where Rueben Te Rangi will be looking to put recent off court dramas behind him as he continues his solid progress since joining the Breakers as an apprentice without the usual College Trip to the USA. Hard man Mika Vikona (nearer the end of his career than the beginning) will also be looking to add one more title to his storied Basketball CV.
Coaching is the other area where improvement is needed. The Breakers three titles were primarily based on solid defence, however last season the Coaching team failed to adjust to the newly minted League focus on offence to ensure a crowd drawing spectacle – this usually led the Breakers to get into early foul trouble (Vikona the main offender). The necessary adjustments will need to be made better this season in order to avoid another early season finish.
Our Tip: NBL Finalists and then who knows?