Breakers eager to put on show for Christchurch
NZ Breakers forward Dillon Boucher said the Australian NBL championship-winning team are busting to showcase their skills to a Canterbury audience after two goodwill visits to the earthquake-stricken province in the past year.
The Breakers will appear on court in Christchurch on September 11 at the Westpac Arena in the opening pre-season game against Wollongong Hawks. Already the 6500-seat stadium is 73 per cent filled, with expectations of a sellout as the game draws closer.
Boucher, in Christchurch last weekend, said the Breakers were keen to "put on a show" for the locals after being restricted to promotional visits and clinics last year when the city was shaken apart by seismic activity.
"The boys have been down here and seen the tough times the people have endured. We'd like to do our little bit by putting on a decent game."
The Breakers had been "awesomely received" on their two previous trips to Christchurch and although the Auckland-based franchise was aware it had support nationwide, to see it first hand was great to experience.
Basketball has been one of the sports seriously affected by the earthquakes in Canterbury with its two main venues, QEII Park Leisure Centre and Cowles Stadium, knocked out. No national league teams from Christchurch have been fielded for the past two seasons.
The Breakers are still putting together the final touches to their playing roster, with doubt about the availability of American imports Gary Wilkinson and Cedric Jackson. "That will play a big part in how we settle down into our season. If those guys come back, we can get straight into but if they don't, it takes a while to fit new guys into the systems.
"But we have recruited pretty well and the club's reputation is now well known."
Boucher said the desire for a third successive championship would spur on his 36-year old body. "As long as I've still got that hunger there and am able to play. I might have slowed down a bit physically but the brain is more alive than ever."
Boucher bagged a rare double this year adding the national basketball league title with Auckland, after the Breakers championship.
However as much as he loves the game, it wasn't enough to extend to coming out of international retirement to help the injury-hit Tall Blacks for their Olympic qualification tournament in Venezuela next month.
"We've got four children now, including two babies so I just wouldn't get any time at home with the wife and family and you need to have a break at some stage."
- © Fairfax NZ News