No changes as NZ Breakers finally find form
Things are humming for the Breakers now, so they have no intention of changing anything as they plan towards a momentous rematch against the Sydney Kings next Saturday night.
Coach Dean Vickerman has confirmed that fill-in big man Casey Frank will remain with the team for at least the next month, with any decision over crocked Tall Black Alex Pledger likely to be delayed for that period.
''We got the MRI back from the surgeon and he's said Alex needs two and a half to three weeks rest before he hits the court again.
''We see Casey playing at least the next four to five games, and then we'll see if Alex can get himself back. It's got a little bit of time to play out right now.''
And it doesn't look like the knee injury suffered by starting shooting guard Daryl Corletto in Thursday night's statement 105-87 victory over the Kings at Vector is anything too serious.
Vickerman said Corletto ''strained'' his medial ligament, limiting the veteran Aussie to just a few minutes after halftime, but he expected him to play next Saturday night in Sydney. Corletto confirmed as much when he tweeted yesterday: ''Knee is all good.''
The Breakers produced arguably their best performance of the season when they shot 57 per cent from the floor, out-rebounded the Kings by 10 (a 33-rebound turnaround from their previous match up) and had six players in a double figures as they improved their record to 8-11.
The 9-9 Kings, who had a four-game win streak snapped, hold the fourth and final playoff spot and the Breakers are well aware that a third straight victory over Shane Heal's side for the season will put them within a game's reach.
The Breakers' challenge is to maintain their momentum after posting just their second series of back-to-back wins for the season. Given they've scored 211 points in those twin victories, it looks a tantalising prospect.
''We knew this was make or break, and approached it like a playoff game,'' said forward Tom Abercrombie whose duel with the Kings' Sam Young was a highlight of the night.
''We wanted to bring that intensity, take things up another level and carry on the good momentum we were able to generate last week.
''We've been guilty this year of taking our foot off the gas a little bit after a win. It was really pleasing to have a fantastic week of practise and then carry that over into the game.
''The challenge is to do that again. It's a series against Sydney right now and we've got to get this next one.''
There's a lot of talk around the Breakers now that the addition of Frank, the naturalised American who's become a Tall Black regular, has actually strengthened the club's late charge for a playoff spot.
Pledger is an accomplished player and his height - all 2.13m of it - makes him a tough proposition at both ends of the court.
But Frank has brought qualities that his team-mates are comparing with those of now retired club stalwart Dillon Boucher, and another busy effort on Thursday (11 points on five-of-seven shooting, five boards and three assists) confirmed his value.
''He adds a lot of those little things perhaps we miss with Dillon gone,'' Abercrombie added.
''His knowledge of the game is great, he sees the floor really well and is a great passer for a big guy. He also sets guys up really well, and is a fantastic screener. For the shooters it's invaluable having someone like that you know is going to get you open.
''Plus, he knows his game very well, has been around a while, knows exactly what he can bring, and we know him as well as we've played with him a long time through the Tall Blacks.''