Breakers prepare for gritty game against Perth
Tom Abercrombie is up for getting his hands dirty this week if that's the way it has to be against the Perth Wildcats.
It looks like it could be all hands to the wheel as the Australian NBL-leading New Zealand Breakers (7-1) face heading to the Perth Wildcats (3-3) minus big American Will Hudson who's in major doubt with an ankle sprain.
The club confirmed today he would travel with the team but it is still up in the air whether he will play or not.
Hudson rolled the ankle at yesterday's training session and was rated in the highly doubtful category for Thursday night's second game of the season between the two sides who contested that memorable grand finals series in April.
The Breakers fly out tomorrow and the team physio made it clear no chances would be taken with Hudson who needed to be right "for the rest of the season".
If Hudson fails to make a dramatic recovery, the Breakers would go in severely under-sized against the most aggressive rebounding team in the league.
As it is, power forwards Mika Vukona and Dillon Boucher are small for their positions, and they'll likely be asked to platoon as Alex Pledger's backup.
That would also mean Abercrombie and his backup Leon Henry needing to log time at power forward and get their long bodies on the boards in what's likely to be a testing night for the Breakers.
But Abercrombie reckons playing small ball could work for the Breakers as they look to tough it out against a side who like to apply pressure with their physical defence.
"It can create some good mismatches," said Abercrombie who has played some power forward in the past while Vukona dealt with a knee injury. "As long as you don't get too exposed at the other end it can work to your advantage. We're quite a small team anyway and Perth like to play a lot of small ball.
"It's nothing new for me or Leon, and we can share a few minutes there if need be and can certainly mix it up if we go that way."
Abercrombie also emphasised that the Wildcats' current plight - they have now lost three straight including their home opener last Friday night - was a non-factor in terms of what they face Thursday (11.30pm tipoff, NZ time)."That doesn't change anything for us," he said.
"If anything it makes them more dangerous. Every time we go over there they're pumped up. It's always a fiery encounter and I'm sure this time will be no different."
The Wildcats, who thrashed the Breakers in Auckland in week one of the new season, are sure to be bristling after being challenged by their coach following the weekend's 65-69 defeat to Adelaide in front of nearly 12,000 fans at the new Perth Arena.
"To me they're playing scared and that's the thing I'm gutted about,'' said Rob Beveridge after his team lost for the second time in a week to the 36ers. ''Our players have to man up, it's as simple as that. We have the team that can win the championship, but we're just not getting it consistently enough right now."
The Breakers make the long haul to Perth tomorrow and will equal their club record winning streak (at eight) if they can topple the Cats in front of what's expected to be a sellout crowd.
- © Fairfax NZ News