Tom Abercrombie aims to bounce back
From hero to zero, these are trying times for the grounded aerial hoops artist known as Tom Abercrombie.
The New Zealand Breakers swingman is somewhat of a tortured soul at the moment as he deals with a myriad of issues heading into the weekend's ‘Sunshine Swing' through Townsville (tonight) and Cairns (tomorrow night).
There's his ankle, of course. Plus a dodgy hammy now. Not to mention a bit of a confidence crisis after going oh-fer in the last round. Now he's also dealing with some self-inflicted amnesia as he looks to erase his most recent outing from the memory bank.
The 2011 NBL Finals MVP ran out of luck late in the deciding semifinal game at Vector last April. Heading in for a seemingly routine breakaway dunk he was felled illegally - and unnecessarily - by Peter Crawford, and has been dealing with the consequences ever since.
Abercrombie had his off-season and pre-season ruined by surgery needed on his left ankle, and through the first five games of the new season he remains a shadow of the high-flyer who had emerged as the most exciting player in the entire league.
Not that the ankle is worrying him too much at the moment. Last Friday, in a last-gasp 79-76 victory over the Sydney Kings, Abercrombie strained his hamstring early, got into foul trouble and ended a frustrating evening with no points and just a single rebound.
How unusual was that? Put it this way, you had to go back 90 games to find the last time he failed to get off the dreaded schneid in an NBL game.
The Tall Black is clearly still some way below his best. For the season he's shooting 35 per cent from the floor and 36 from deep en route to 10.2 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. He's a whole heap better than those numbers.
The frustrating thing for Abercrombie is he looked to have turned the corner back in week four's trip to Melbourne where he logged 20 points, shot six-of-12 overall and three-of-five from deep and added five boards.
One step forward, one backwards.
The positive through a hot ‘n cold start to the season by the Breakers is that they're still 4-1, even while players like Abercrombie, CJ Bruton and new import Will Hudson have been a little slow to find their groove.
"It was our defence again," said Abercrombie of win No 4 on the bounce. "We were disruptive, we created some turnovers and we ground them down. That's winning us games at the moment, but I'm sure that the offence will start ticking soon.
"I'm certainly planning on bouncing back."
Abercrombie says he's staying positive, and the best way to do that is to forget about last week's "blip".
"We'll just pretend Melbourne was the last game and I'll look to improve from there," he said.
What did you make of the Tall Blacks' World Cup campaign?