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
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours

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 the only team from outside of Australia to compete in the National Basketball League. In 2011, the Breakers won their first NBL championship, becoming the first New Zealand team in any sport to win an Australian-based sporting championship. They successfully defended their championship title in 2012 and 2013.

Home Games[edit]

In past seasons the Breakers had been based at Trusts Stadium in Waitakere and have played matches in the Pacific Centre in Manukau, while they have also taken NBL games to Christchurch Westpac Arena, Wellington Queens Wharf Events Centre and Hamilton Mystery Creek in their inaugural season. 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.

Team History[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 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, to end equal ninth (officially tenth).


Phill Jones left the Breakers despite a year still being left on his contract to play in Italy. The Breakers signed Shawn Redhage after the American's stellar play in SEABL. 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, signing with the Perth Wildcats, becoming one of the best players in the NBL, and representing 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.


Mike Chappell, the saviour of the Breakers' first two seasons in the NBL, was jettisoned in favour of Rich Melzer. The move was at first frowned upon by those in the basketball fraternity, with Melzer's pedigree that of an NCAA Division III school (compared to Chappell, who won a national title at Michigan State).

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, after Melzer returned to action, he returned a changed player after an indifferent start, which ultimately led to an NBA contract(see next paragraph). Melzer teamed up with centre Ben Pepper and with steady contributions from import Brian Green and Kiwi Aaron Olson, the Breakers split their final twelve games of the season, including inflicting the only home defeat for the Sydney Kings in the regular season.


On 14 July 2006 it was announced that Melzer had signed a two-year contract with NBA team the San Antonio Spurs. 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 on 17 August it was announced that the Breakers had signed Ricardo "Carlos" Powell, Melzer's replacement.

On 28 August 2006 the Breakers also 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-match losing streak killed off the Breakers chances of qualifying for the playoffs. The play of American import Carlos Powell was entertaining to watch. The former USC standout led the league in scoring, including a 50-point game against the Melbourne Tigers, but in a losing effort. It would become 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 gargantuan 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 2006-07 season, original Breaker Aaron Olson announced his immediate retirement, and despite the Breakers trying hard to retain him, Powell opted to test NBA waters in his native America.


In the following off-season the Breakers signed Australian veteran Tony Ronaldson, and current Tall Blacks Phill Jones and Paora Winitana. The biggest signing however 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 the 2007-08 season, 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, a friend of Penney. 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.


Prior to the 2008-09 season, the collapse of the Brisbane Bullets saw the Breakers swoop and sign influential players CJ 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 the 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 - the Breakers last match in 2008 - the Breakers stuttered through January 2009 without their talismanic leader, losing eight of their next nine games as his ankle fully recovered.

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.


The Breakers added Burger King as their primary sponsor after going without one for the previous two seasons. The Breakers 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 the Melbourne Tigers' lynchpin Chris Anstey, the Breakers began the 2009-10 NBL season in ominous fashion, sweeping to a 95-75 win over the Cairns Taipans with Penney and Bruton running amok. However after just three games, it was revealed that star guard Kirk 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: First Championship[edit]

With Tony Ronaldson retiring, Oscar Forman surplus to requirements, and Rick Rickert later taking a job in Germany as a free agent, 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, Abercrombie, Vukona and Dillon Boucher (the assistant coach) in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Penney was later signed to a non-guaranteed contract with NBA franchise the San Antonio Spurs, but was later cut during the preseason. Penney drew interest from former club Maccabi Tel Aviv, but it is understood that Penney's Breakers' contract only has an NBA out-clause, which he exercised to go to San Antonio.

The Breakers opened the new 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 - four of which were without Penney - before losing 114-74 to the Perth Wildcats in Perth.

The Breakers 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 the regulation and 73-73 at the end of 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 scored a comfortable 71-53 win to claim their maiden championship title.

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

Prodigal son Kirk Penney left the Breakers to join Spanish ACB team Baloncesto Fuenlabrada. The Breakers signed fringe 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.

At the beginning of the season, 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, the Breakers clinched the Minor Championship for the second year in a row.

The Breakers finished the regular season with a 21-7 record to secure consecutive minor premierships.

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 defeated the Perth Wildcats 2-1 in the Grand Final series, winning the 2012 Championship.[5]

C.J Bruton (son of the great " Black Pearl" Cal Bruton) finished the season in true Bruton style winning the finals award MVP of the playoffs. Bruton " Mr fourth quarter" delivered a variety of late in the game points to help secure the Breakers their second NBL title and helped them join an elite group claiming their first back to back title in the NBL.

2012-13: Completing the treble[edit]

The 2012–13 season has seen the departure of Gary Wilkinson to give Alex Pledger more game time.[6] He was replaced on the roster by Will Hudson.[7] Corey Webster returned to the Breakers after a 12-month ban for 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][10][11] as well as three games in the NBL/WNBL preseason competition.[12] In addition to the three games against the Hawks, the Breakers played 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 runnersup 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 CrocodilesMika Vukona receiving the Player of the Week award for that round.

During the rare "sunshine coast swing" against both of the North Queensland teams Townsville and Cairns, the Breakers, for the first time in their history, completed this challenging leg of the league with victories at both venues. Another milestone for the Breakers was the infamous New Year's Eve game traditionally played against Cairns in Cairns. The Breakers had never won this trip but 2012/13 was starting to unfold as a real year to remember with the Breakers picking up a clean sweep with four wins from four games over this tough holiday period. Leading into their first home game of 2013, the Breakers lead the league with a 13 win to 3 loss record.

In February 2013, the Breakers set a club record by winning 11 games straight,[13] a record that by mid March 2013 had been extended to fifteen straight games and coincided with the Breakers winning their third straight minor premiership[14] 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.[15][16]

On the 24 April 2013, Lemanis was announced as the new head coach of the Australian men's national basketball team.[17][18][19]

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.[20]


  • On 27 April 2013, Dean Vickerman was named the head coach of the New Zealand Breakers for 2013–14.[21][22]
  • On 1 May 2013, Leon Henry was released from the second year of his two-year contract.[23]
  • On 2 June 2013, Paul Henare was appointed as Vickerman's first assistant coach for the 2013–14 season (Judd Flavell being the second).[24]
  • On 12 August 2013, Kerron Johnson was signed as the second import for 2013–14.[26]
  • On 28 October 2013, Darnell Lazare and Jeremiah Trueman were released, and Gary Wilkinson was signed.[27]

Honour Roll[edit]

NBL Championships: 3 (2011, 2012, 2013)
NBL Finals 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: #24 Dillon Boucher, #32 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 70002150000000000002.15 m (7 ft 1 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

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

Updated: 18 August 2014

Depth Chart[edit]

Pos. Starter Bench Bench Reserve
C Alex Pledger Ekene Ibekwe 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


  1. ^ NZ Breakers owner about making a difference
  2. ^ Late Breaker Kevin Braswell wants to stay
  3. ^ Historic night looms for Skycity Breakers
  4. ^ Breakers victory over Crocs with a cost
  5. ^ "Breakers' win sinks in with Bruton". 3 news. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  6. ^ "Basketball: Wilkinson and Breakers part ways". June 29, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Breakers sign Will Hudson". July 14, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Breakers give Webster another chance". August 31, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ "SKYCITY NZ Breakers vs Wollongong Hawks". Timaru Herald. Retrieved 11/09/2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ "SKYCITY NZ Breakers vs Wollongong Hawks". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11/09/2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ "SKYCITY NZ Breakers vs Wollongong Hawks". Retrieved 11/09/2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ "NBL and WNBL come together in Australian first". NBL. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  13. ^ "Breakers' beat Kings in OT, streak still alive". February 10, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Breakers win 15th straight, lock up minor premiership". March 10, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  15. ^ GF2: Breakers three-peat after epic clash with Wildcats
  16. ^ New Zealand win historic third consecutive NBL Championship
  18. ^ Lemanis confirmed as Boomers coach
  19. ^ Andrej Lemanis appointed new Australian Boomers Coach
  20. ^ Cedric Jackson sweeps NZ Breakers' awards
  21. ^ "Jackson dominates Breakers awards night". 27 April 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  22. ^ "New Breakers coach undaunted by top role". 28 April 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  28. ^ NZ Breakers to replace Alex Pledger with Frank
  29. ^ Breakers bring back Casey Frank

External links[edit]