Two titles in the bag and a Three-peat looming large the question needs to be asked just how good is this side and why have they been so successful where other New Zealand Sporting Franchises playing in Australian-based competitions have failed time and time again ?
Like every other New Zealand side playing in these competitions the team has had to over come big hurdles from constant travel, growing pains, poor ‘marquee’ player selections, dwindling finances and where to play to maximise revenue and viewer experience ? Current results indicate that this is fast becoming New Zealand’s most popular team (despite the Auckland-centric nature of the team) in the world’s biggest sport.
Heres where we think the Breakers have got it right:
Private Ownership that actually works
Breakers owners Paul and Liz Blackwell’s infamous ‘no dickheads’ policy has clearly worked wonders. The Breakers are a team of second chances (Corey Webster and Dillon Boucher spring to mind) and these chances have generally paid off. No silly cat obsessions or dipping their toes in areas they know little about (team strategies and selections are left to Coach Lemanis and his deputies and recruitment to CEO Richard Clarke). These 2 work behind the scenes and leave the Basketball to the Basketball experts. This is how private ownership is supposed to work. When is the last time you read about a Breaker getting drunk and falling in the gutter – chances are you haven’t because they have picked the right people.
Blending overseas stars with local talent
Learning from a string of poor initial import selections (Rich Melzer and Rick Rickert spring to mind) the Breakers have found probably the best overseas player to ever grace a court in New Zealand in Cedrick Jackson. Jackson isn’t your garden variety import – he plays both ends of the court, shares the ball and is humble to a fault. Unfortunately these will be Jacksons last few games for the Beakers as the NBA beckons.
The Breakers have also established an Academy that allows the young stars (Tai Webster and Rueben TeRangi prominent) court time alongside grizzled veterans (Daryl Corletto, CJ Bruton & Mika Vikona) ensuring team continuity not seen in an New Zealand sports team for some time. As this depth grows, the dependence on an overseas import to carry the team (most teams downfall in the ANBL this year) lessens. Oh and no easy ride for the Academy players – they get to stack shelves in Pak n Save when they aren’t balling unlike the chosen few of some other codes who become PlayStation experts when they’re not training.
Home court advantage versus venue and revenue size has been sucessfully merged. After a tricky period the Breakers have successfully arrived at a shared venue arrangement whereby the traditional ‘Gym’ feel of the NSEC is blended with the big business, higher capacity value that Vector Arena brings. Eggs have been placed in both baskets successfully to date, however it appears a given that the team will move permanently to Vector shortly in order to cash in on the lucrative central city market and superior venue on offer (and where the security guards actually smile back at you).
No AC/DC or Nickelback as the teams run on or egg and spoon races at halftime at a Breakers game. Each break in play is seen an opportunity for the vastly underrated MC Andrew Dewhurst to introduce a wide variety of short, sharp features from traditional cheerleading, Mascots, local hip-hop talent or a good old fashioned stand up and clap until we score to keep the fans entertained. AND THEY DON’T PLAY MUSIC WHEN THE GAMES ON.
Get on TV and stay there.
If you aren’t on TV you simply aren’t on these days. Australian Hoops fan have to opt for an on-line option via NBLTV to see games if they cant get to the venue, whereas New Zealand fans see all games live on Sky Sport with games called by currently the best commentary team going around in NZ sport in Andrew ‘you have got to be kidding me’ Mulligan and Casey Frank (who adds so much as an ex-Breaker). These 2 have got the mix between self-depreciating humour, detailed analysis and a bit of good old cheerleading just right.
Look after your fans
This team is all about the fans. They even allow kids to come and see them in the Casino that sponsors them by staging after match functions in family friendly areas of Sky City. It’s not unusual to see more school kids than adults there after games – events which are expertly MC’d by Radio Sports one true star D’Arcy Waldergrave.
Naturally no-one leaves the arena after games until the last autograph has been signed (kids are allowed on the court after the game unlike our national game where the pitch invasion has long gone).
So there you have it. Make sure you watch this team in the Grand Finals versus hated rivals the Perth Wildcats as it’s unlikely any other New Zealand team will dominate an Australian based competition like this one for some time.