Breakers duo get the callup for All-Star lineup
Mr Triple-Double Cedric Jackson was a lay-down misere; the hobbled Tom Abercrombie not so much.
They are the only Breakers who will be named today for starting duties at this month's reinstated All-Star game in Adelaide.
Point guard extraordinaire Jackson and small forward Abercrombie will start for Andrej Lemanis' South All-Stars, most probably alongside Perth's Kevin Lisch, Melbourne's Seth Scott and Adelaide's Daniel Johnson at Adelaide Arena on December 22.
Breakers head coach Lemanis earned coaching rights on the basis of his team's league-leading 8-2 record at the December 2 cutoff.
Wildcats centre Matt Knight would have been among the South quintet but for the long-term calf injury that has sidelined him.
It is understood Jackson, who secured his second league player of the week award following his triple-double last Friday, was the highest vote-getter among the South All-Stars (comprising players from New Zealand, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide) and had the second most overall.
The starters for the two teams are voted for by fans, with the respective head coaches selecting their five reserves. Backup players will be announced in a week's time.
Jackson, already the consensus MVP, was a lock to run the show for the South on the back of a stellar season that has seen him leading the league in assists (8.0) and steals (2.6), running second in points (16.7) and adding a highly respectable 5.0 rebounds.
But Abercrombie, still bothered by the gammy ankle he injured late last season, was perhaps more fortunate to garner the third-highest vote haul among the South lineup.
He is averaging 10.7 points and 3.7 rebounds but has so far been able to only spasmodically unleash his full arsenal.
Forward Mika Vukona was the other Breaker to poll in the top 10 for the South lineup but will have to rely on being a coach's pick to make the revived showpiece game. Centre Alex Pledger could also be a chance to get the callup from Lemanis.
The Breakers, meanwhile, are planning as though they will see the league's leading individual scorer in Saturday night's visit to the 7-5 Sydney Kings.
Ben Madgen, averaging a stellar 19.4 points a game, is in doubt with a shoulder injury but the Breakers say nothing changes in their planning, regardless of whether he plays or not.
"They've got plenty of good pieces to the puzzle and Madgen is just one of those pieces," said Lemanis. "[Coach] Shane [Heal] has got them functioning well as an offensive unit, he keeps mixing up their defence as well, and he's got them in a good place."
Madgen will have to play through the pain after popping his shoulder out of its socket during Sunday's 88-85 upset of the 36ers in Adelaide, but the way the Kings coped while he was out of the game indicated they are far from a one-man team.
"He's been given the green light by Hammer [Heal]," said Breakers guard Daryl Corletto who hyper-extended his knee at training on Tuesday but will play.
"He reminds me of Kirk Penney a few years ago, when every time he touched the ball he was trying to score, and not really getting anyone else involved."
"We'll prepare as though he's playing and he will be a focal point. He had 30 on us last time and we definitely need to shut him down."
But the Kings showed against Adelaide that in Kevin White they have a capable shooting backup to Madgen, while big men Graeme Dann, Ian Crosswhite and Darnell Lazare were all influential as Sydney showed an ability to go inside.
South All-Stars starters: Cedric Jackson (Breakers), Kevin Lisch (Wildcats), Tom Abercrombie (Breakers), Seth Scott (Tigers), Daniel Johnson (36ers).
North All-Stars starters: Adris DeLeon (Hawks), Ben Madgen (Kings), Darnell Lazare (Kings), Oscar Forman (Hawks), Cameron Tragardh (Taipans).