MVP-favourite Jackson earns weekly award
The indomitable force that is Cedric Jackson keeps rolling through the Australian NBL, the Breakers star today landing his fourth player of the week award.
Jackson, a lay-down misere to be named league MVP at season's end, snaffled the round 17 award on the back of another dazzling all-round display in Friday's top-of-the-table victory over the Perth Wildcats.
The 26-year-old American, with his sights set on a permanent gig in the NBA, was the class act in an outstanding performance from the New Zealand club as they thrashed the Cats 98-81 in front of over 9000 fans at Vector.
Jackson finished a dominant individual display with 22 points on seven-of-13 shooting from the field, and four of seven from beyond the arc. He also had eight assists, five rebounds and five steals in another of those stats-stuffing performances we have come to expect from him.
The victory put the 18-3 Breakers two ahead of their nearest pursuers in the loss column and in the box seat to secure a third straight minor premiership.
Jackson leads the ANBL in assists (7.5) and steals (2.9), is sixth in scoring (15.7) and is the leading rebounding guard with 5.6 a game.
The point guard was also the ANBL's player of the week for rounds six, nine and 11, and is considered a certainty to secure the league MVP at season's end, after being narrowly pipped last year by Perth's Kevin Lisch.
Meanwhile, the Kiwi club settled back into a less intense period of their season today as they return to a diet of mostly one-game-a-week hoops.
The Breakers, who have a club record wining streak of 10 going on, had eight games in the period between December 28 and January 26, six of which were on the road.
Now it's back to a more leisurely rhythm, with eight days between Friday's victory over the Cats and Saturday night's visit to the Sydney Kings.
"The challenge now is in staying hungry and staying motivated through practice sessions and then bringing that edge to the games that we've been able to bring through this period," said coach Andrej Lemanis today.
"It gives us opportunities to do some different things, freshen some people up and get on top of some injuries, like Alex [Pledger's] ankle which we've sort of managed through. Now we can get some time to get that right.
"From a team perspective as well it gives us a chance to get some things right, like special situation plays, and if you want to change some things it gives you time to work on that stuff."
Pledger sat out the back half of today's training session as he continues to be bothered by the ankle sprain he suffered early against Wollongong on January 17.
The big centre is confident he'll be all right to play on Saturday but is continuing to receive treatment on an ankle that's restricted his movement the last few weeks.
Lemanis was confident a rare full week of practice would not dull the edge of his red-hot team.
"You get in a rhythm of playing, and the challenge for us now is to keep in that rhythm and keep bringing that mental excitement to play games."