Dillon Boucher's passion fires up Breakers
Don't ask Dillon Boucher to wallow in the statistical glory that is accompanying his farewell season with the NZ Breakers.
That's not Boucher's style, by a long shot. Frankly, the veteran power forward finds the individual milestones that seem to be cropping up every few weeks a little embarrassing.
Boucher, a foundation player from 2003, last Friday in Townsville became the "winningest" Breaker ever after racking up his 116th victory from 204 appearances. He surpassed his close friend and former colleague Paul Henare in doing so.
Not surprisingly, Boucher was blissfully unaware of his latest achievement and, ahead of tonight's clash against the Wollongong Hawks at a soldout North Shore Events Centre, provided an insight into a mindset that's as team-first as you get in this business.
"It's a nice milestone, but the big picture is we're winning, and that's what really counts," says Boucher, who remains an essential part of the Breakers' mix, even at 37, and still seriously under-sized for the position he plays. "I want to keep breaking team milestones about wins in row and things like that. Those are the milestones I want to tick off this season - then finally have that big milestone at the end in the three-peat."
It would be a fitting way for arguably the league's greatest over-achiever to bow out in a career that's seen him win three titles (two with the Breakers, and one with Brisbane).
It's well known now that Boucher can't shoot a lick from beyond a metre. Never has done. Yet he's carved a career out of finding other ways to contribute.
He's a fabulous passer and reads the game like a book. He's also a brilliant screener, excellent defender and plays with a commitment, passion and ferocity that is nothing short of extraordinary.
He's also the keeper of the torch at the Breakers and it's his voice that resonates the loudest at crucial moments, either in practice or games. He is the spiritual force of this club, and when the business end of this season plays out it will be the retiring Boucher to whom the pursuit of glory is dedicated.
This year he's averaging 2.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists for the Breakers off the bench. Those numbers fall pathetically short of reflecting his value.
The four straight wins the Breakers achieved over their holiday road season block are testament to the standards Boucher has helped instil at the club. As is the top spot on the table occupied for the best part of three seasons now.
"We go into every game believing we're going to win, no matter whether we're down 15, 20 or 21," said Boucher.
"We believe we can come back and win. The belief this group has had for the last three or four years is unbelievable.
"We never say die and we fight to the very end."
In the first of that quartet of away games the Breakers trailed the Adelaide 36ers by 21 at the half. Last Friday in Townsville they were 15 down at the major break and still a dozen back just a minute from the end of the third quarter.
Boucher admits he's feeling a little jaded after the big road haul over the holidays, though a couple of days off after Townsville helped.
"The bodies are tired, the minds are tired but knowing we've got a home game now is great for us."