Giant Breakers centre Alex Pledger believes his side aren't far away from tipping the scales on their rough season, saying a "tight match" victory could be the trigger the defending champions need.
The Breakers have opened their season 2-6, a record that sees the three-time Australian NBL champions languishing at second-to-bottom on the league ladder.
Continuing foul issues have been a problem, as have the side's inability to close out games when holding last quarter momentum.
Last Friday's heartbreaking 95-94 defeat to the Adelaide 36ers in Auckland was a perfect example of both - though Pledger, who scored a 'double-double' in the match with 11 points and 11 rebounds, is confident the side aren't far away.
With three games lost by three points or less so far this season, he makes a good point.
"We're only eight games into the season and there's a long way to go," Pledger told Fairfax Media.
"We feel like we are really close to getting over that hump. One of these close games that we haven't been finding ways to win - if we can get over the line in one of those games, that will give us a lot of confidence and get us on a roll."
"We've been within one or two points of the majority of teams we have played with four or five minutes to go – and we haven't executed down the stretch.
"We haven't come up with loose balls, and things like that. If we can improve in those areas, get better shots down the stretch and play better defence, we could have been 6-2 instead of 2-6."
Pledger damaged costal cartilage in his chest and back after a heavy fall in the final quarter of the Breakers defeat last Friday, and has had breathing difficulties since.
The 26-year-old has been monitored by Breakers medical staff since, but is confident he'll be fronting up against the Townsville Crocodiles at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday.
"I've never really had an injury like this before," he said. "If it's your ankle or something like that, you can kind of more feel on whether you can go on it.
"But this one is different. It's feeling better than it was yesterday, and better than it was the day before so it's improving. Hopefully by Friday, we're all good to go."
Pledger has been satisfied with his seasons' efforts this year - but said he puts the team before his only personal achievements.
"I've been a good presence in the paint at both ends and I'm rebounding the ball pretty well," he said.
"But at the end of the day, it's a team game and I think I can definitely do more to get us a few wins."
- Fairfax Media
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