No break for Breakers as Adelaide beckons
Some of his teammates may be dragging their feet a little, but in-form Breakers forward Tom Abercrombie says he has never felt better heading into tomorrow's NBL visit to the Adelaide 36ers.
The 14-3 Breakers looked like they were playing on fumes as they ground out a knife-edge 72-71 victory at the North Shore Events Centre on Thursday night over the under-manned Wollongong Hawks.
That victory, their sixth on the bounce over a golden holiday period, had some wondering whether the Breakers would have enough left in the tank to continue their dominance over Marty Clarke's Sixers tomorrow.
The league leaders looked sluggish throughout a game where they shot just 36 per cent from the floor, and allowed Hawks import Adris Deleon to cut loose for a season-best 34 points.
The Kiwi outfit have won all 10 of their games against Adelaide since Clarke took charge, though their latest, a 71-66 road victory on December 28, was somewhat of an escape act from a 21-point halftime deficit.
Clearly four straight road games between December 28 and January 11 have taken a toll, and a busy schedule has continued apace with home-away games over the next two rounds.
Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis acknowledged it's a tough stretch, but one his men simply had to take in their stride. So far, so good on that front.
"One of the realities of the schedule we've had is that four games on the road takes stuff out of you," he said.
"While it's not an excuse, it's a reality."
The good news is that Abercrombie, the team's leading scorer over their past two victories, yesterday declared himself in pristine condition on the back of just under 31 minutes of action - and 15 points, four boards and three assists - against the Hawks.
"The body is feeling good, the best I have all season," said Abercrombie of a campaign slowed by off-season ankle surgery.
"I'm feeling good, I've got a day to rest up now and then get ready and be good to go Sunday.
"We'll have a short training in Adelaide and it will be good to blow a few cobwebs out and get the legs moving again. Hopefully, we'll have enough in the tank Sunday."
Abercrombie's re-emergence as something resembling the player he was prior to that bad ankle injury in the semifinal decider against Townsville in April has been a major feature of the Breakers' new year.
He had nine straight points in a game-clinching turn down the stretch in Townsville, and was solid all over the court again against the Hawks.
"The uninitiated just look at the scoresheet and judge how people play off that," Lemanis said.
"Tommy offers so much more. [His scoring] is one piece he's added, but he's still a great defender, he still blocks shots, he still rebounds and helps you a lot of different ways.
"It's nice he's starting to find confidence in the shot again and wanting the ball in big situations."
Abercrombie, who went three-of-four from three-point land on Thursday, said he was expecting to face a pretty grumpy 36ers side.
"They'll be a little pissed off from last time we played them.
"They won their last game, so they'll be confident, and they're a pretty well-rounded team, with solid big men, a great point guard and some good wing players.
"We have to put fatigue to the side, and go out there like it's just another game. It's going to take a good performance from us to get it done."
- The Dominion Post
Who is the most important player for the Tall Blacks at the World Cup?