Record breaking Jackson driving for wins
Cedric Jackson may be racking up numbers that make the eyes water, but the New Zealand Breakers star says it’s wins that motivate him, not individual accolades.
Luckily for him, he’s doing both pretty impressively at the moment.
The 1.91m American point guard was superb for the Breakers at the weekend as the back-to-back champions completed the tricky ‘Sunshine Swing’ in North Queensland with consecutive road wins. That took their season win streak to six – an impressive 3-0 across the Tasman – and sent the Kiwi club back to the top of the table.
Jackson averaged 17.0 points, 11.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 3.5 rebounds for the week and was today handed his second Player of the Week award for the season. He already looks a short-priced favourite for the league’s MVP.
Jackson’s heroics saw New Zealand become the first club to sweep road games against the Cairns Taipans and Townsville Crocodiles, on consecutive nights, since February 2007.
Jackson started the round with 14 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and two steals in the 81-72 victory over Townsville on Friday night, then backed up 24 hours later with 20 points, 12 assists, three rebounds and two steals in a 73-54 rout of the Taipans.
He became the first player in the NBL to have double-figure assists on consecutive nights since Derek Rucker for Townsville in April 1998.
Jackson today was asked about whether the high assist numbers had given him the greatest satisfaction over the weekend.
“The satisfaction would be the wins man - the guys are being aggressive, they’re making their shots, and we’re getting the job done,” said the point guard who has had three short-term deals in the NBA, and hopes to return to the Association one day.
“It’s a nice bonus,” he said of another Player of the Week award.
“I’m very appreciative of it, very happy, but I’m just ready to go again and get another win I hope against Townsville this weekend.”
Jackson’s scoring numbers are up this season and he appears to be playing at an even higher level than he did last year, with the NBA remaining a major incentive for the former Cleveland State collegiate standout.
“I just want to stay aggressive,” he said of his mindset for his second year with the Breakers.
“I know I’ve found my rhythm right now so I want to continue to stay aggressive and keep guys honest and keep hitting the open guy.”
Jackson is also looking to add leadership to his long list of qualities this year, especially now he feel so much more comfortable in Andrej Lemanis’ system.
“I want to be more vocal, and set a positive example… particularly on the court so I’m setting standards, not hanging back, staying aggressive, talking on defence and helping guys out.”
In terms of the balance between scoring and creating, which has been the most impressive aspect of the Jackson game this season, he said it was all about adjusting to what he sees from the defence.
“I use what they give me. Sometimes that opens up the floor for my team-mates, and when they try to stop my team-mates then the floor opens up for me a little bit. I just try to use what the opposition allows me.”
The Breakers host the struggling 0-8 Townsville Crocodiles at Vector on Friday night – a game they should win comfortably.
But with the Kiwis having already knocked the Crocs off home and away this season, Jackson confessed it was a dangerous game for his team.
“It is a little bit tough, playing them again,” he said.
“But we have a goal we want to achieve, so we put all that behind us and look to have a great week of practice and get ready for another tough one.
“We know they’re a little bit down, but we’re not taking anything for granted.”
Meanwhile, Breakers stalwarts Dillon Boucher and Mika Vukona notched up a couple of significant milestones of their own over the weekend.
Boucher played his 300th NBL game in Cairns on Saturday night, while Vukona racked up his 250th appearance.
What do you make of LeBron James' decision to return to Cleveland?Related story: (See story)