NZ Breakers re-sign Bruton for two seasons

MARC HINTON AND NICOLA ABERCROMBIE
Last updated 13:23 14/03/2012
CJ Bruton
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
STICKING AROUND: Guard CJ Bruton, 36, has re-signed for two more seasons with the Australian NBL champion NZ Breakers.

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Veteran guard CJ Bruton has signed on for two more years with the New Zealand Breakers.

The 36-year-old Australian NBL legend confirmed today he had inked a new deal with the club that would see him finish his career in Auckland.

"Obviously with the team the way it is, and the people they've got signed up already, I feel like I can still help," Bruton said.

"This year has been a little disappointing as an individual, but from the team perspective finishing first and still contributing in different ways, I have a lot more to give in helping to teach and keep adding to my game till I finish up."

Bruton said once the Breakers presented him with a new deal that he believed was more than generous, the decision to stay on and end his career with the club had been an easy one.

This is Bruton's fourth year as a Breaker and he has been a principal figure in helping transform the North Shore-based club into one of the elite in the competition. They are defending champions and last weekend clinched a second straight regular season title.

"Being able to win another title this year and maybe another two after that gives me a chance to help make the Breakers the team of the future and the team of the decade," he said.

Bruton has won four NBL titles with three clubs during a long and storied NBL career that stretches back to 1994. He has also been to three Olympic Games with the Boomers.

This year he has been slowed by knee troubles as he has averaged just 9.1 points and 2.0 assists a game. Bruton missed five games, with the Breakers going 4-1 during that time.

But he remains a key figure for the Breakers in his new role off the bench, and is widely predicted by team-mates and opponents alike to step up his game at playoff time.

Bruton revealed that it had been his son who had persuaded him that the decision to stay on in New Zealand was the right one.

"When I asked him about it he said 'Dad, I want to stay in New Zealand."

And with that Bruton signed on the dotted line and joined Daryl Corletto and the soon-to-be announced trio of Tom Abercrombie, Alex Pledger and Mika Vukona as foundations stones for the club's immediate future.

"That made it quite easy," said Bruton of the fact that so many of his team-mates were staying around. "I've watched the development of these guys first hand, and the growth they've had in my time here has been outstanding.

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"They're only going to get better. For the young kids coming up, hopefully they can see the way I love the game, the way I still work at the game and have that same passion every day... this is something I still love doing."

The Breakers host the Gold Coast Blaze in their regular season home finale at the NSEC tomorrow night. The game is sold out.

Despite his age, Bruton had played 83 consecutive ANBL games until his injury last year and is a legend of the league, winning four championships with three different teams. He was a key figure in the Breakers championship run last season, scoring 14 points, including four three pointers, in the decider against the Cairns Taipans.

If he is to retire at the end of his new deal he will be 38-years-old, one year younger than Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze was when he retired from the league.

The oldest player to compete in the ANBL was Leroy Loggins, who retired in 2001 at 43-years-old after 21 seasons playing for the Brisbane Bullets.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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