Pledger becoming target for refs - Lemanis

MARC HINTON
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012
Alex Pledger STD
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ
CHANCE: Pledger needs to improve or be whistled out the game.

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Towering Breakers centre Alex Pledger isn't quite in the endangered species category, but his coach thinks it's worth sounding a warning.

Pledger and the Adelaide 36ers' Luke Schenscher, who both stand 2.16m, are the only "seven-footers" left in the Australian NBL and ahead of tonight's game against the Townsville Crocodiles at Vector, Lemanis has issued a "fair go" plea on his big man's behalf.

The Breakers coach was prompted to do so after reviewing the video of last Saturday's 73-54 victory over the Cairns Taipans where Pledger picked up three early offensive fouls to effectively be chopped off at the knees.

What worries Lemanis is that true big men like Pledger - in his first season as a starter - risk being whistled out of games unless they're allowed to play the same way as everyone else.

Already there's a trend for "small-ball" developing in the NBA, led by champions Miami Heat who have had considerable success playing without a true centre. Others have quickly followed suit.

Lemanis would like to think there would always be a place for a dominant, multi-skilled true big man.

"One of the things we've seen in this league before is big guys who try to play big sometimes get into foul trouble by guards taking advantage of it . . . the league has spoken a lot about flopping and taking that out of the game," he said.

"For big guys to continue to play in this league and be effective they need to be refereed like everyone else. They can't suddenly be penalised just for being more powerful or taller than somebody else.

"Certainly you see in the NBA, Dwight Howard ends up shooting 20 foul shots.

"If you have an advantage, you have an advantage because you're good and the game is refereed the same for everybody."

The Breakers should take care of business against the struggling Crocs who have lost 10 straight stretching back to the semifinal opener they won at Vector in March.

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