New Zealand Breakers

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New Zealand Breakers
2014–15 New Zealand Breakers season
New Zealand Breakers logo
League NBL
Founded 2003
Arena North Shore Events Centre (The Breakerdome)
Vector Arena
Arena Capacity 4,400 (NSEC)
9,300 (Vector Arena)
Location Auckland, New Zealand
Team colours Black, Light Blue and White
CEO New Zealand Richard Clarke
General manager New Zealand Richard Clarke
Head coach Australia Dean Vickerman
Team captain New Zealand Mika Vukona
Ownership New Zealand Liz & Paul Blackwell
Championships 3 (2011, 2012, 2013)
Website NZ Breakers
Uniforms
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Home jersey
Kit shorts skybluesides.png
Team colours
Home
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Away jersey
Kit shorts skybluesides.png
Team colours
Away

The New Zealand Breakers are a New Zealand men's professional basketball team competing in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL). The Breakers joined the NBL for the 2003–04 season (along with the now-defunct Hunter Pirates) as one of two expansion clubs. The club is based in the city of Auckland, New Zealand and split their home games between the 4,400 capacity North Shore Events Centre (NSEC), known as "The Breakerdome" within the NBL, and the 9,300 seat Vector Arena where they play select games against higher drawing teams as well as all finals games due to the higher capacity. They are currently owned by Liz & Paul Blackwell, owners of a local Pak'n Save supermarket.[1]

They are one of two teams (the other being the now-defunct Singapore Slingers) from outside of Australia to have competed in the National Basketball League. In 2011, the Breakers won their first NBL championship and successfully defended it in 2012 and 2013.

History[edit]

2003–04 season[edit]

After a 111-110 victory over the Adelaide 36ers in the first ever regular season match, the Breakers went on to lose ten of their next eleven games to languish near the bottom of the NBL ladder. The inaugural coach, Jeff Green, was subsequently fired and succeeded by Frank Arsego, who was initially an assistant coach.

The addition of former MSU star Mike Chappell breathed new life into the Breakers season. After languishing with a 2-10 record, the Breakers experienced a mid-season resurgence, capped off by a five-match winning streak towards the end of the season which gave them a realistic shot of qualifying for the playoffs. Needing to win both of their final games in the final week of the regular season to claim a playoff berth, the Breakers lost both and finished equal ninth (officially tenth).

2004–05 season[edit]

After Phill Jones left the Breakers to play in Italy despite a year still being left on his contract, the club signed Shawn Redhage following the American's stellar play in the South East Australian Basketball League. Redhage started his NBL career well with an eye-opening 27-point performance in his debut match, but was later cut after a series of poor performances. Redhage later made the Breakers regret their decision as he signed with the Perth Wildcats, became a two-time NBL champion and club legend, and represented Australia at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The Breakers finished in last place in the eleven-team league, with a woeful 9-23 record. All was not well internally, with an alleged text message from Dillon Boucher to former coach and friend Green complaining about Arsego's style of coaching and his lack of game time. The Breakers severed ties with Arsego after the dismal season, and after much speculation about New Zealand Tall Blacks head coach Tab Baldwin taking over as head coach, Andrej Lemanis, a Townsville Crocodiles assistant coach, was appointed in a somewhat surprising decision, at least to New Zealand basketball followers.

2005–06 season[edit]

With Mike Chappell's dismissal from the squad, the Breakers signed Rich Melzer, an NCAA Division III pedigree who had recently played in the NBA Summer League with the Orlando Magic and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Lemanis' first season in charge was not particularly memorable, with the Breakers finishing the regular season in ninth spot out of 11 teams, with a 9-23 record. During the season, the Breakers endured a club-record eleven straight losses as they slipped to a 3-17 record. However, Melzer and centre Ben Pepper turned the season around as steady contributions from import Brian Green and Kiwi Aaron Olson helped the Breakers split their final twelve games of the season, including inflicting the only home defeat for the Sydney Kings in the regular season.

2006–07 season[edit]

On 16 August 2006, the Breakers signed former West Sydney Razorbacks point guard Adam Darragh, who became the Breakers back-up point guard behind captain Paul Henare. The following day, the Breakers signed Carlos Powell to replace the departing Rich Melzer. Later that month, the Breakers unveiled a new look for their uniform, the primary colour of their jerseys changing to black, to represent New Zealand as they are the only New Zealand team in the competition.

The Breakers struggled in the 2006–07 season finishing with an 11-22 record, despite being 8-9 at the halfway point. A ten-game losing streak halted the Breakers chances of qualifying for the playoffs. The play of American import Carlos Powell was entertaining to watch as the former USC standout led the league in scoring, including a 50-point game against the Melbourne Tigers, but in a losing effort. It became a theme of the Breakers' second-half to the season, with Powell's spectacular individual performances often in vain. Powell even won Player of the Week in a week where the Breakers went 0-3, after recording 43 and 50-point efforts. It was thought that the lack of success of the Breakers cost Powell the MVP award in the league. After the season, original Breaker Aaron Olson announced his immediate retirement, and despite the Breakers trying hard to retain him, Powell also departed the club.

2007–08 season[edit]

During the 2007 off-season, the Breakers signed Australian veteran Tony Ronaldson, and Tall Blacks Phill Jones and Paora Winitana. However, the biggest signing for the Breakers was New Zealand's marquee player Kirk Penney after a distinguished overseas career. Penney was only the second New Zealander to play in the NBA (behind Sean Marks) and had also played for European powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv.

In 2007–08, with the overhauled roster, the Breakers set out on intent on making the playoffs for the first time in their history, thanks in part to the form of import Rick Rickert. Despite season-ending injuries to Rickert and fellow import Wayne Turner, their replacements Derrick Alston and Orien Greene helped the Breakers to seal their maiden NBL playoff berth. In their first playoff match, they defeated the Cairns Taipans in Cairns 100-78 to set up another elimination final against the defending champion Brisbane Bullets. However, this proved a bridge too far for the Breakers, defeated in Brisbane to bring the curtain down on their season.

2008–09 season[edit]

Prior to the 2008–09 season, the collapse of the Brisbane Bullets saw the Breakers swoop and sign influential players C. J. Bruton and former Breaker Dillon Boucher, whilst losing Kiwis Paora Winitana and Mika Vukona.

The Breakers started the 2008–09 season with a roar, sitting atop the NBL ladder with a 15-4 record heading into 2009. Bruton joined forces with Penney in what turned out to be an All-NBL first team backcourt, and had support from Oscar Forman, Tony Ronaldson and Phill Jones. However, after Bruton suffered a high ankle sprain in a victory over the Perth Wildcats in late December 2008, the Breakers stuttered through January 2009 without their talismanic leader, losing eight of their next nine games.

After a successful last week of the regular season, the Breakers finished with an 18-12 record (surpassing the 2007–08 record of 16-14), setting the team up with their first ever home playoff in the NBL. The Breakers went on to win their elimination playoff, routing the Adelaide 36ers 131-101 to set up a best-of-three semi-final series with the defending champion Melbourne Tigers. Sadly, the Breakers dreams of winning the championship were stopped at the semi-final stage, beaten 2-0 in the best-of-three series by the Tigers.

2009–10 season[edit]

The Breakers added Burger King as their primary sponsor for 2009–10 after going without one for the previous two seasons. The club added former NBA player Awvee Storey to their ranks in their only major roster addition of note. Phill Jones was the major casualty, departing from the Breakers for the second time.

Tipped by some as championship favourites due to the demise of the South Dragons and the off-season surgery to Melbourne Tigers' legend Chris Anstey, the Breakers began the 2009–10 NBL season in ominous fashion, sweeping to a 95-75 win over the Cairns Taipans due to dominating performances by Penney and Bruton. However, after just three games, it was revealed that Penney was to be sidelined with a back injury (eventually missing nine games). The wayward Storey was then replaced by Australian veteran John Rillie in a move that did not pay dividends for the club.

The Breakers eventually worked themselves back to a 9-9 record as Penney returned to the fray, before inconsistency returned, with the Breakers blowing potential match-winning leads over a three-week period which saw them lose four consecutive games to slip to a parlous 9-13. The addition of import Kevin Braswell sparked a late-season flurry, with the Breakers winning their last six matches to finish with a 15-13 record. But the late-season winning run proved to be in vain, as the Breakers agonisingly missed the playoffs, despite finish just two wins off minor premier (and eventual champion) Perth Wildcats.

2010–11 season: First Championship[edit]

With Tony Ronaldson retiring, Oscar Forman moving to Wollongong, and Rick Rickert departing for Germany, the Breakers re-added Mika Vukona to their ranks, whilst adding former Utah State standout Gary Wilkinson to the mix. The Breakers successfully re-signed Kevin Braswell for the season, after Braswell hinted that he wanted to stay.[2]

The Breakers' pre-season was hampered by the involvement of Tall Blacks' Penney, Vukona, Thomas Abercrombie and Dillon Boucher (the assistant coach) in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Penney also missed the early part of the season as he attempted to join the San Antonio Spurs via a training camp contract. Leon Henry was subsequently signed as a short-term replacement for Penney.

The Breakers opened the season with an 83-70 win over the returning Sydney Kings in Sydney's first home game back in the competition after a two-year hiatus due to financial problems. In the first home game of the regular season, the Breakers played the Perth Wildcats and won 96-94 after coming back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit. The Breakers won their first five games of the season before losing 114-74 to the Wildcats in Perth. The Breakers did recuperate as they led the NBL from 17 December onwards after a gripping 89-85 over the Wollongong Hawks in Wollongong, snapping their 15-game home winning streak.

The Breakers finished the regular season with a 22-6 record, qualifying as the top seed in the playoff series. In the finals series, the Breakers lost Game 1 of their semi-final series to the Perth Wildcats 78-101 on 7 April at home, but summoned the strength to win Game 2 in Perth (93-89) on 10 April before closing out the series at home 99-83 on 13 April.

The Breakers met the Cairns Taipans in the best-of-three Grand Final series that was to result in one of the teams winning their maiden NBL championship (it was also the first time that both teams had made the Grand Final). The Breakers coasted to an 85-67 win in Game 1 after leading by as much as 31 in the third-quarter. The teams then fought out a gripping Game 2 in Cairns. Tied 60-60 at the end of regulation and 73-73 at the end of the first overtime, it was Cairns who prevailed 85-81 to send the Grand Final series to a third and deciding game. In front of a sold-out North Shore Events Centre crowd, the Breakers recorded a comfortable 71-53 win to claim their maiden championship title.

2011–12 season: Back-to-back Championships[edit]

After Kirk Penney left the Breakers to join Spanish ACB team Baloncesto Fuenlabrada, the Breakers signed former NBA player Cedric Jackson and picked up Daryl Corletto after the Australian was controversially made to step aside from the Melbourne Tigers to accommodate NBA player Patrick Mills.

During the season opener, retired club legend Paul Henare was honoured by becoming the first Breakers player to have his number (32) retired.[3]

With the Breakers' 91-76 win over the Adelaide 36ers on 10 March 2012, the Breakers clinched the minor premiership for the second year in a row as the Breakers finished the regular season with a 21-7 record.

On 7 April 2012, the Breakers reached consecutive Grand Final appearances after seeing off the Townsville Crocodiles 97-80 in the deciding game of their semi-final series.[4] The Breakers went on to defeat the Perth Wildcats 2-1 in the Grand Final series, winning back-to-back NBL championships.[5]

2012–13 season: Completing the treble[edit]

The 2012–13 season saw the departure of Gary Wilkinson to give Alex Pledger more game time,[6] as he was replaced on the roster by Will Hudson.[7] Corey Webster returned to the Breakers after a 12-month ban for the use of banned substances.[8]

The Breakers pre-season involved three games in New Zealand, where they played the Wollongong Hawks in Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton,[9] as well as three games in the NBL's official preseason tournament.

The team started the regular season on 5 October 2012 at the North Shore Events Centre where they played the 2011–12 runner-ups the Perth Wildcats. After losing this game, they continued to win their first Vector Arena game against the Adelaide 36ers, and their next game at the North Shore Events Centre against the Townsville Crocodiles. Mika Vukona subsequently received Player of the Week honours for Round 3.

During the "sunshine coast swing" against both of the North Queensland teams in Townsville and Cairns, the Breakers, for the first time in their history, completed this challenging leg of the league with victories at both venues. Leading into their first home game of 2013, the Breakers led the league with a 13-3 record.

In February 2013, the Breakers set a club record by winning 11 games straight,[10] a record that by mid-March had been extended to fifteen straight games and coincided with the Breakers winning their third straight minor premiership[11] with two regular-season games left to play.

On 12 April 2013, the Breakers recorded their third NBL championship, sweeping the Perth Wildcats 2-0 in the Grand Final series.[12][13]

On 24 April 2013, Lemanis was announced as the new head coach of the Australian men's national basketball team.[14][15][16]

At the 2013 Breakers awards night, Dillion Boucher's number 24 was retired while Cedric Jackson took out the members', players' and Club MVP votes.[17]

2013–14 season[edit]

With Lemanis' departure, on 27 April 2013, Dean Vickerman was named the head coach of the Breakers,[18][19] as Paul Henare later joined Vickerman's coaching staff as an assistant.[20]

With most of the 2013 championship squad staying on, Darnell Lazare, Jeremiah Trueman and Reuben Te Rangi were picked up,[21] along with Kerron Johnson who was brought in to replace the departed Cedric Jackson.[22] However, on 28 October 2013, Lazare and Trueman were released in order to bring back Gary Wilkinson as the club tried to salvage their poor start to the season.[23] To make matters worse, the Breakers starting big man Alex Pledger struggled with injuries as he was placed on injury-waivers and replaced by Tall Black and former Breaker Casey Frank.[24][25] The Breakers went on to miss the playoffs with a disappointing 11-17 record, as C. J. Bruton retired from basketball following the season.

2014–15 season[edit]

With the return of Cedric Jackson and the signing of Ekene Ibekwe came the turn around the Breakers needed following the 2013–14 season. Following an impressive showing at the NBL Pre-season Blitz, the Breakers went on to fight for top spot all season alongside Perth and Cairns as they eventually finished second with a record of 19-9. With third place falling to the Adelaide 36ers (who won the final 10 ten regular season games and came into the playoffs as the hottest team), the Breakers faced off against them in a best-of-three semi-final series. Despite the 36ers' form, the Breakers easily handled them in Game 1 as they won 111-82 in convincing fashion at Vector Arena.[26] Game 2 then moved to Adelaide where they again had the upper hand the entire game, defeating the 36ers 94-83 as they booked themselves a place in the Grand Final for the fourth time in five years.[27][28]

Honour roll[edit]

NBL Championships: 3 (2011, 2012, 2013)
NBL Playoff Appearances: 5 (2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013)
NBL Grand Final appearances: 3 (2011, 2012, 2013)
NBL Minor Premierships: 3 (2011, 2012, 2013)
NBL Most Valuable Player: Kirk Penney (2009), Cedric Jackson (2013)
NBL Most Valuable Player (Finals Series): Thomas Abercrombie (2011), C. J. Bruton (2012), Cedric Jackson (2013)
All-NBL First Team: Carlos Powell (2007), Kirk Penney (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), C. J. Bruton (2009), Gary Wilkinson (2011), Cedric Jackson (2012, 2013), Thomas Abercrombie (2012)
Leading NBL scorer: Carlos Powell (2007), Kirk Penney (2009)
NBL Best Sixth Man: Phill Jones (2009), Kevin Braswell (2011)
NBL Defensive Player of the Year: Dillon Boucher (2010)
NBL Coach of the Year: Andrej Lemanis (2012, 2013)
Coaches: Jeff Green 2003, Frank Arsego 2003–2005, Andrej Lemanis 2005–2013, Dean Vickerman 2013–present
Retired numbers: #23 C. J. Bruton, #24 Dillon Boucher, #32 Paul Henare
Lifetime members of the club Andrej Lemanis, Jeff Green, Dillon Boucher, Paul Henare

Source: Club History

Current roster[edit]

New Zealand Breakers roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt.
PF 00 New Zealand Alok, Yuat (DP) 70002040000000000002.04 m (6 ft 8 in)
PG 4 United States Jackson, Cedric (I & VC) 70001910000000000001.91 m (6 ft 3 in) 700191000000000000091 kg (201 lb)
PG 5 New Zealand Ili, Shea (DP) 70001830000000000001.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
G/F 7 New Zealand Te Rangi, Reuben 70001970000000000001.97 m (6 ft 6 in) 7002100000000000000100 kg (220 lb)
G 9 New Zealand Webster, Corey 70001880000000000001.88 m (6 ft 2 in) 700186000000000000086 kg (190 lb)
SF 10 New Zealand Abercrombie, Thomas 70001980000000000001.98 m (6 ft 6 in) 700194000000000000094 kg (207 lb)
F 11 New Zealand Bailey, Duane 70001990000000000001.99 m (6 ft 6 in) 700187000000000000087 kg (192 lb)
SG 12 New Zealand Anderson, Brad (DP) 70001900000000000001.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
PF 14 New Zealand Vukona, Mika (C) 70001980000000000001.98 m (6 ft 6 in) 700193000000000000093 kg (205 lb)
PG 15 Australia Carter, Rhys 70001900000000000001.90 m (6 ft 3 in) 700185000000000000085 kg (187 lb)
F/C 16 New Zealand Wynyard, Tai (DP) 70002040000000000002.04 m (6 ft 8 in) 7002116000000000000116 kg (256 lb)
SF 20 New Zealand Ngatai, Jordan (DP) 70002009999999999992.01 m (6 ft 7 in)
F/C 25 Nigeria Ibekwe, Ekene (I) 70002060000000000002.06 m (6 ft 9 in) 7002100000000000000100 kg (220 lb)
C 35 New Zealand Pledger, Alex 70002130000000000002.13 m (7 ft 0 in) 7002119000000000000119 kg (262 lb)
PF 42 Fiji Wesley, Tai 70002000000000000002.00 m (6 ft 7 in) 7002109000000000000109 kg (240 lb)
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)
Team manager
  • New Zealand Chris Millbank

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Development player
  • (I) Import player
  • Injured Injured

Roster
Updated: 18 August 2014

Depth chart[edit]

Pos. Starter Bench Bench Reserve
C Ekene Ibekwe Alex Pledger Tai Wynyard
PF Mika Vukona Tai Wesley Yuat Alok
SF Thomas Abercrombie Duane Bailey Jordan Ngatai
SG Corey Webster Reuben Te Rangi Brad Anderson
PG Cedric Jackson Rhys Carter Shea Ili

Home venues[edit]

In the club's early years, they were based at Trusts Stadium in Waitakere but also played games at the Pacific Centre in Manukau, Westpac Arena in Christchurch and Queens Wharf Events Centre in Wellington. A bid was also made to host several matches in the South Island, but since the franchise was based in Auckland, this did not eventuate. The Breakers now split their home games between the 4,400 capacity North Shore Events Centre and the 9,300 seat Vector Arena.

References[edit]

  1. ^ NZ Breakers owner about making a difference
  2. ^ Late Breaker Kevin Braswell wants to stay
  3. ^ Double celebration looms for Breakers
  4. ^ Breakers victory over Crocs with a cost
  5. ^ Beynon, Huw (25 April 2012). "Breakers' win sinks in with Bruton". 3news.co.nz. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Basketball: Wilkinson and Breakers part ways". nzherald.co.nz. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  7. ^ McAuliffe, Hugh (14 July 2012). "Breakers sign Will Hudson". Australiabasket.com. Sports I.T. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Breakers give Webster another chance". 3news.co.nz. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Huntsdale, Justin (12 September 2012). "Breaking down barriers on Hawks NZ tour". ABC.net.au. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Hinton, Marc (10 February 2013). "Breakers' beat Kings in OT, streak still alive". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Breakers win 15th straight, lock up minor premiership". newstalkzb.co.nz. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2013. [dead link]
  12. ^ GF2: Breakers three-peat after epic clash with Wildcats
  13. ^ New Zealand win historic third consecutive NBL Championship
  14. ^ LEMANIS LEAVES SKYCITY BREAKERS WITH MIXED EMOTIONS
  15. ^ Lemanis confirmed as Boomers coach
  16. ^ Andrej Lemanis appointed new Australian Boomers Coach
  17. ^ Cedric Jackson sweeps NZ Breakers' awards
  18. ^ "Jackson dominates Breakers awards night". tvnz.co.nz. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  19. ^ Hinton, Marc (28 April 2013). "New Breakers coach undaunted by top role". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  20. ^ BREAKERS FAVOURITE SON RETURNS HOME
  21. ^ VICKERMAN MOVES TO FILL BREAKERS ROSTER
  22. ^ BREAKERS SIGN ‘MR BASKETBALL ALABAMA’ TO COMPLETE ROSTER
  23. ^ SKYCITY BREAKERS MOVE QUICKLY IN ROSTER CHANGE
  24. ^ NZ Breakers to replace Alex Pledger with Frank
  25. ^ Breakers bring back Casey Frank
  26. ^ SF1 Report: Breakers make statement, smash 36ers
  27. ^ SF2 Report: Jackson leads Breakers into another Big Dance
  28. ^ BREAKERS SIMPLY TOO GOOD AS THEY BOOK GRAND FINAL SPOT

External links[edit]