Vukona the Breakers' ultimate all-rounder

01:51, Mar 01 2013
Breakers vs 36ers
Dillon Boucher and Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers compete with Anthony Petrie and Daniel Johnson of Adelaide.
Breakers vs 36ers
Jason Cadee of Adelaide competes with Daryl Corletto of the Breakers.
Breakers vs 36ers
Will Hudson of the Breakers dunks the ball during the round two NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers vs 36ers
Stephen Weigh of Adelaide makes a break during the round two NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Adelaide 36ers.
Breakers vs Wildcats
lex Pledger of the Breakers competes with Matthew Knight of the Wildcats during the round one NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers vs Wildcats
Mika Vukona of the Breakers drives passed Shawn Redhage of the Wildcats.
Breakers vs Wildcats
Tom Abercrombie, CJ Bruton and Dillon Boucher of the Breakers look on during the round one NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Perth Wildcats.
Breakers vs Wildcats
Damian Martin of the Wildcats gets around CJ Bruton of the Breakers.
Breakers
Breakers' Mika Vukona drives against Crocs' Jacob Holmes.
Breakers
Mika Vukona under pressure from Jacob Holmes.
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers rides the shoulders of Jacob Holmes of the Crocs.
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers rides the shoulders of Jacob Holmes of the Crocs.
Breakers
Gary Ervin lays up a shot for the Crocs as Alex Pledger attempts a block.
Tom Abercrombie
Tom Abercrombie goes for the block on Kings' Tom Garlepp.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson with the ball for the Breakers.
Daryl Corletto
Daryl Corletto the ball up for the Breakers.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson collides with Corin Henry of the Sydney Kings.
Mika Vukona
Mika Vukona shoots the match-winning three-pointer against the Sydney Kings.
Breakers vs Crocs
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers looks to drive past Larry Abney of the Crocodiles.
Breakers vs Crocs
Daryl Corletto of the Breakers drives past Jacob Holmes of the Crocodiles.
Breakers vs Crocs
Russell Hinder of the Crocodiles attmpts to drive past Alex Pledger of the Breakers.
CJ Bruton
CJ Bruton barks out some orders to team-mates.
Cedric Jackson
Cedric Jackson on the ball for the Breakers.
Dillon Boucher
Dillon Boucher celebrates during the Breakers win over the Townsville Crocodiles.
Tom Abercombie
Tom Abercombie throws down a slam dunk.
Tai Webster
Tai Webster takes the ball to the hoop.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Tom Abercrombie of New Zealand (L) and Seth Scott of Melbourne compete for the ball.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Will Hudson of the Breakers during the round nine NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Cedric Jackson of the Breakers collects the rebound during the round nine NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Melbourne Tigers.
Breakers vs Melbourne
Cory Webster of the Breakers takes a shot against Melbourne.
Breakers v Taipans
Cedric Jackson goes up for two of his NBL career-high 32 points against the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Mika Vukona chases a loose ball during the Breakers win over the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Tom Abercrombie floats a ball over Brad Hill of the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Alex Pledger pulls down a rebound against the Taipans.
Breakers v Taipans
Dillon Boucher sticks close to Dusty Rychart of the Taipans during the Breakers' 97-76 win.
NZ Breakers
Adelaide's Luke Schencher protects the ball as CJ Bruton, Dillon Boucher and Will Hudson close in.
NZ Breakers
Mika Vukona guards Adelaide's Dan Johnson.
NZ Breakers
Cedric Jackson goes up for a lay-up during the Breakers away win over Townsville.
NZ Breakers
Breakers and 36ers players dive on a loose ball.
NZ Breakers
Will Hudson attempts a block on Crocs player Michael Cedar.
NZ Breakers
Leon Henry celebrates his double three-pointers at the end of the third quarter against the Crocs with teammate Mika Vukona.
NZ Breakers
Mika Vukona protects the ball from Hawks players Tyson Demos and Oscar Forman.
NZ Breakers
Tom Abercrombie completes an alley-oop pass from Cedric Jackson during the heritage game against the Hawks.
NZ Breakers
Dillon Boucher, a member of the original Breakers side, looks for a pass during the heritage game.
NZ Breakers
Will Hudson blocks Hawks guard Adris Deleon.
Breakers v Kings
Tom Abercrombie goes up for a dunk as James Harvey of the Kings looks on.
Breakers v Kings
Daryl Corletto and Dillon Boucher celebrate the Breakers' hot start against the Kings.
Breakers v Kings
Mika Vukona goes for the easy lay-up.
Breakers v Kings
Daryl Corletto nails a three on his way to 14 points in the first four minutes against the Kings.
Breakers v Perth
Corey Webster shoots over Kevin Lisch on his way to a career high 14 points.
Breakers v Perth
CJ Bruton celebrates a three pointer.
Breakers v Perth
Cedric Jackson lays the ball up over Perth's Matt Knight.
Breakers v Perth
Tom Abercrombie loses a shoe as he goes for a dunk over Greg Hire.
Breakers v Perth
Jeremiah Trueman of the Wildcats and Alex Pledger of the Breakers compete for the ball.
Breakers
Mika Vukona celebrates a late basket with CJ Bruton.
Breakers
Dillon Boucher goes for a steal during the Breakers 92-84 win over the Wollongong Hawks.
Breakers
Tom Abercrombie takes a jump shot during the game against the Hawks.
Breakers
Cedric Jackson shoots under pressure from Wollongong Hawks players.
Breakers v Hawks
Cedric Jackson makes a pass around Oscar Forman of the Hawks.
Breakers v Hawks
Tom Abercrombie shoots a jumper during the win over the Hawks.
Breakers v Hawks
CJ Bruton entertains the crowd during a break in play.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers player Corey Webster scores a layup against the 36ers.
Breakers vs 36ers
Tom Abercrombie slam dunks the ball.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers' Mika Vukona drives at 36ers' Stephen Weigh.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers' Corey Webster takes on 36ers' Anthony Petrie.
Breakers vs 36ers
Breakers' Dillon Boucher celebrates the team's 13th straight win.
Breakers vs Cairns
Tom Abercrombie of the Breakers hangs on the hoop after dunking the ball.
Breakers vs Cairns
Mika Vukona goes after the ball against Cairns.
Breakers vs Cairns
Cedric Jackson shares a hug with Dillon Boucher after the thrilling win over Cairns.
Breakers vs Cairns
Mika Vukona of the Breakers lays the ball up.
Breakers 2012-2013 season photos
An injured Mika Vukona is helped off the court during the Breakers' clash with the Tigers.
Breakers 2012-2013 season photos
Dillon Boucher waves to Breakers fans for the last time ahead of the game with the Tigers.
Breakers 2012-2013 season photos
Christopher Goulding of the Tigers tries to block Dillon Boucher during their clash at the North Shore Events Centre.
Breakers v Tigers
Tai (left) and Corey Webster enjoy some time on court together in the final quarter of the win over the Tigers.
Breakers v Tigers
Reuben Te Rangi drives past Lucas Walker of the Tigers.
Breakers v Tigers
Tom Abercrombie soars high for one of his three alley-oops in the opening quarter of the win over Melbourne.
Breakers v Wildcats
Alex Pledger pulls down a rebound in the regular season finale against the Wildcats.
Breakers v Wildcats
Cedric Jackson mulls the loss after the Wildcats defeated the Breakers in Perth.
Breakers v Wildcats
Dillon Boucher tries to deny the pass for Jesse Wagstaff during the Breakers loss to the Wildcats.

Mika Vukona is one of those rare breed of sportsmen who needs to get more selfish in the interests of his team.

That's the view of Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis who along with Vukona celebrated a special milestone at Auckland's Vector Arena on Thursday night.

The Breakers marked Vukona's 200th game for the club, and Lemanis' 250th as head coach, by thrashing the Adelaide 36ers 104-79 in front of a sellout crowd of 8500. It was their 13th straight Australian NBL victory, and their 15th on the bounce against the 36ers.

Mika Vukona
ALL-ROUNDER: Mika Vukona has stepped up this season for the Breakers, carrying some of the offensive load as well as anchoring the defence.

Afterwards Lemanis heralded Vukona's emergence as a supreme all-round hoops talent and called for the 30-year-old Tall Blacks skipper to continue to look to become more of a threat at the offensive end of the court.

The 21-3 Breakers are locked in a tight duel with the Perth Wildcats for the regular season title, and No 1 playoff seed, and Lemanis said Vukona shaped as a key ingredient as the Kiwi club looks to secure just the second title three-peat in league history.

Vukona was one of six double-figure scorers for the Breakers but had arguably the most impressive statline with 11 points (5/7 FG, 1/1 3PT), seven assists, five rebounds and a steal in just 23 minutes.

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"He can shoot the threes, but sometimes he's too selfless, always looking to help his team-mates," said Lemanis. "But what he's found this year is one of the ways he helps the team is by scoring.

"He's started to take that on his shoulders and accept that responsibility which is what we've needed him to do.

"That for me is the growth with him. As well as what he does when he's aggressive offensively, he makes good decisions. He had seven assists, so when stuff is taken away from him, he's making the pass.

"When we started he had a single-minded focus on stuff. Whereas as he's grown and evolved now he reads situations on plays and makes the right decisions."

Team-mate Tom Abercrombie described Vukona as the "ultimate team guy" but agreed with his coach's analysis of his offensive emergence this year.

"He's always had that within him, but he's such a team-first guy that he's always looking to do things for his team-mates first. To see him grow even more this year and start to take more of a role offensively is great."

Abercrombie put Vukona on the same level as veterans Dillon Boucher and CJ Bruton in terms of setting the standards at the club.

"He puts his body on the line every night and inspires us all with the passion and energy he brings," added the springy small forward who had an eye-catching 16 points himself.

"That stuff is contagious and you need to have a guy like that in your team to be successful."

Lemanis also reminisced a little on Vukona's development over his 200 games at the club, separated by a couple of seasons across the ditch where he played for Melbourne's South Dragons and the Gold Coast Blaze.

"I remember coming into Waitakere Stadium when I first got here and working him out and seeing the raw, unbelievable energy and athleticism he had then, and the power.

"But that's how he played as well. He played a little bit out of control with that raw energy.

"To see him develop over the years, he's kept the energy and the power, but he's added finesse and poise to his game. He's also grown as an individual, as a family man and a leader of the team.

"Those are the sort of things you reflect on and that's what I get the most reward from, and think maybe I had a small part to do with that."

Vukona and the Breakers host Cairns at the NSEC next Thursday before heading to Melbourne on Sunday. They hold a two-game advantage over nearest pursuers the Perth Wildcats.

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